IT’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S BIGGEST
(AND BEST) WEEKEND OF THE YEAR
AND WE’RE TRACKING THE CFP’S TOP 6 TEAMS …
THE NFL WEEK 12 UPDATE:
CAN THE RAMS STOP THEIR SPREAD SLIDE IN G-BAY? …
AND BILLS CAP OFF TURKEY DAY ACTION WITH EASY
WIN IN THE BIG EASY
Say this for the College Football World …
It’s always got a few surprises “up its sleeve” each and every weekend and so no reason to expect anything but the unexpected here on this jam-packed holiday gridiron weekend.
Naturally, there are a slew of folks hoping / praying that one-loss (and defending national champion) Alabama stubs its toe in the Iron Bowl on Saturday; plus, there’s lots of Ohio State “haters” now that the Buckeyes leapfrogged their way into the #2 poll position in the updated College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings.
Consider #7 Oklahoma State – hosting “Bedlam” against archrival Oklahoma on Saturday – also is still alive when it comes to playoff talk and, heck, there’s more than a few storylines to whet your whistle this Thanksgiving Weekend … right?
Okay, so let’s get to it as we track the Top 6 teams in the latest CFP rankings …
On Friday, it’s …
#4 CINCINNATI (11-0, 7-0) at EAST CAROLINA (7-4, 5-2) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
So, this is how we see it with the Cincy Bearcats: Win here, beat Houston in the American Athletic Conference title tilt next weekend and … you’re in the playoffs. No crazy scenarios can / will KO the ‘Cats from their appointed rounds no matter what all those smarty-pants guys on ESPN are telling you every Tuesday night. The only negative is Luke Fickell’s crew – believe us – is gonna feel major pressure in these two aforementioned games and so QB Desmond Ridder (responsible for 32 TDs this year) must be on target against an opportunistic East Carolina squad that’s a tasty 6-1 vig-wise the past seven weeks. Is laying two TDs on the road a bit too rich? Hmm.
On Saturday, it’s …
#1 GEORGIA (11-0) at GEORGIA TECH (3-8) – 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Love the fact they call this rivalry “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” but no matter how hard or how much the five-touchdown underdog GT Yellow Jackets “hate” numero uno Georgia here, it figures to be yet another glorified scrimmage for the Bulldogs. Hey, in case you lost count the Dawgs have covered the last three in a row against the Techsters (didn’t play last year when teams only played conference games) and seven of the last nine meetings.
What to watch here: Georgia has seven receivers with 12-or-more catches this year and this underrated group has registered 22 TDs!
#2 OHIO STATE (10-1, 8-0) at #5 MICHIGAN (10-1, 7-1) – 12 p.m. ET, Fox
We know what you’re thinking:
The 8.5-point road favorite price with Ohio State here makes you feel the good folks in Las Vegas are “begging” you to bet Michigan. But best believe that the high-powered ‘Eyes – who have scored 40-plus points in eight different games in 2021 – would be hefty road favs against anyone out there not named Georgia.
You all know that frosh QB C.J. Stroud (he completed 32-of-35 passes for 432 yards and six first-half TDs last week against overmatched and overrated Michigan State) is en fuego these days but Michigan defense comes into this clash having surrendered just 42 total points the last three weeks. If Wolverines’ boss-man Jim Harbaugh can “silence” the critics with a win here, he’ll do it with “D” and a ground game capable of 250-plus yards.
#3 ALABAMA (10-1, 6-1) at AUBURN (6-5, 3-4) – 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
It’s an argument for another day as to whether or not the ‘Bama Crimson Tide can get into the four-team playoff with two losses (we say nay should either Auburn or Georgia beat ‘em!) but let’s consider that these nearly 3-TD road favorites have the only healthy star QB on the field here – and frosh Bryce Young has thrown for an eye-popping 3,584 yards with 38 TDs and 3 INTs while Auburn’s Bo Nix is gonzo with a broken ankle. Are you interested to know that Alabama is just a dead-even and vig-losing 5-and-5 ATS (against the spread) when laying 15-or-more points since late last season?
#6 NOTRE DAME (10-1) at STANFORD (3-8) – 8 p.m. ET, Fox
Here’s the facts, Jack: The ND Fighting Irish have won / covered six in a row ever since getting hammered at home by #4 Cincinnati back on Oct.2nd and this ever-evolving defense has yielded just 6, 3 and 0 points in lopsided wins the past three weeks. Nope, we don’t want to hear anyway about the “quality of competition” because truth is head coach Brian Kelly has this club peaking and QB Jack Coan (18 TDs / 5 INTs) is in a great rhythm these days. P.S., Notre Dame’s covered five of its last seven tilts versus Stanford.
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THE NFL WEEK 12 REPORT
Remember way back when – like in the Summer of 2021 – when folks were all in a frenzy thinking this Los Angeles Rams team was hot-to-trot for a Super Bowl appearance.
Well, things have chilled a bit lately with the Rams heading into Green Bay for Sunday’s “Game of the Day” clash:
Consider the Rams enter Lambeau Field on a four-game ATS losing skid (and two of those spread setbacks occurred against Detroit and Houston … oops!) and now Sean McVey’s crew is a one-point pup (Pick ‘Em in some areas) against a far-from-healthy Packers team … see QB Aaron Rodgers (toe / probable) and RB Aaron Jones (knee / doubtful).
Meanwhile, the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day was a blast – last-second and / or overtime field goals by Chicago and Las Vegas got those clubs road wins and then the 7-point favored Buffalo Bills surgically took apart short-handed New Orleans 31-6 in the prime-time game as QB Josh Allen threw four scoring strikes (and ran it pretty good too). Note the Bills now have covered their last eight in a row against NFC “comp”.
Turkey Day Rivalries, Ohio State/Michigan, Steelers/Bengals
Rivalries and future NFL stars will flood the college football Thanksgiving weekend. Bettors made a quick decision regarding Thursday’s Ole Miss/Mississippi State Egg Bowl battle moving the home dog Bulldogs to a small favorite. Mississippi State (8-4 ATS) sophomore QB Will Rogers (34 TDs, 8 INTs) has exploded on the scene as one of the most dynamic SEC passers. Last year as a freshman, he had just 11 TDs, 7 picks. And the offense is clicking at the right time averaging 40.4 points over the last five games, including a 43-34 win at Auburn as a dog. Ole Miss has a star QB of its own in junior Matt Corral (19 TDs, 3 INTs), a dual-threat with 552 yards rushing. Ole Miss is fifth in the nation in yards (517.5 per game), #21 in points (34.6 pg). Last year’s meeting was a gem, a 31-24 Ole Miss win with Corral throwing for 385 yards and Rogers passing for 440 yards, 3 TDs, no picks.
Ohio State/Michigan goes on Saturday with both teams in the Top 6 with 10-1 records. That last happened in 2016 and the Buckeyes won 30-27…in double overtime. This one will be about matchups as Ohio State has NFL talent all over the offense, while the Michigan ‘D’ is Top 10 in pass yards and total yards allowed. Ohio State freshman QB C.J. Stroud (36 TDs, 5 INTs) leads a dazzling attack, No. 1 in the nation in yards (559.9 pg) and points (47.2 pg). Michigan is a ball-control offense behind Cade McNamara (14 TDs, 2 INTs) and RBs Hassan Haskins (1,063 yards, 4.9 ypc) and Blake Corum (778 yards, 6.0 ypc). They will try and do exactly that to keep the chains moving and the pigskin out of the paws of the explosive Buckeye offense. Ohio State is on a 9-4 spread run versus Michigan with the last 7 meetings all sailing OVER the total.
Bills/Saints (Thursday): The Bills have been the AFC favorite to make the Super Bowl for much of the season. All of a sudden, they’re in second place in their own division behind the surging Patriots. Buffalo has lost three of five, including a 9-6 loss to Jacksonville as a 16-point favorite and getting whipped 41-15 at home Sunday by the Colts. As Vince Lombardi used to yell from the sidelines, “What the hell’s going on out there?” The Bills hold the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC just ahead of a Pittsburgh squad that upset them in Week 1. What the Steelers and the Colts did was to have their safeties shift about after the snap. In coaching circles, it suggests that’s the way to confuse QB Josh Allen. But it’s also a small sample and Allen (21 TDs, 8 INTs) is still having a strong season surrounded by outstanding talent, but watch to see if New Orleans shifts its secondary to try to create confusion. The Saints will be a good test as the coaching staff is one of the best in the NFL along with a defense that is No. 10 in yards allowed, third against the run. New Orleans is in its own free-fall, losing three in a row forced to use backup QB Trevor Siemian (8 TDs, 2 INTs). They come off a 40-29 disaster at Philadelphia, so the loser of this game could be in hot water. The total has come down with Buffalo 19-7 UNDER on Field-Turf, though the Saints are 40-23 OVER the total against teams that average 27+ points.
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Is Revenge Enough? It’s a great football weekend for bettors to examine rivalries and revenge, but is revenge enough? No! Revenge is a double-edged wagering sword. Plenty of teams are furious about getting ripped by a rival the previous season, but if the angry team lacks the talent or has a disadvantage that can be exploited, revenge means nothing. For instance, Michigan State was pounded by Ohio State last season, 52-12. Last week, the Spartans had moved to No. 7 in the standings as they entered a revenge showdown against the Buckeyes. But Ohio State still crushed Michigan State, 56-7, who got outgained 655-224. In that example, the talent gap was simply too large for revenge to even matter.
Army/Navy is coming up. Navy lost 15-0 to Army last season, so they’re in revenge mode in this annual rivalry showdown. But you need run defense against an Army ground attack that is second in the country with 309.3 yards per game, #27 in points. The Navy run defense is not a strong point, #44 against the run surrendering 135.7 yards per contest, #90 in points (31.2 per game). Navy is off a 38-35 loss to East Carolina allowing 158 yards on the ground. Sure, Midshipmen’s revenge will be in the air, but if an opponent can exploit a weak matchup, that turns revenge-talk into nothing but hot air. There’s plenty of hot air in the NFL, but far less of a talent gap. Last week I cashed my NFL Rivalry Release on the underdog Vikings, who won straight up over the Packers, 34-31 (part of my 5-0 Saturday/Sunday Hot Line releases). It was a division rivalry game, plus Green Bay had won at Minnesota the previous year, 43-34. The Vikings may have been a home dog, but they have outstanding balance on offense with QB Kirk Cousins (21 TDs, 2 INTs) and RB Dalvin Cook, seventh in the NFL in total yards. They matched up well with the Packers, making it an excellent betting situational spot for the home underdog. So handle football revenge delicately. Or as one Vegas oddsmaker and regular bettor told me years ago downplaying the revenge angle: “I’m pissed off all the time but it doesn’t help me cover more games!”
North Carolina/NC State (Friday): North Carolina (2-6 ATS run) doesn’t play much defense but they’re loaded on offense behind QB Sam Howell (22 TDs, 8 INTs), though he missed last week’s game with a rib injury. This is their fourth game in five weeks against a Top 25 team. UNC is 11-4 OVER the total against winning teams. Rival NC State (7-3 ATS) has a dynamite signal-caller in sophomore QB Devin Leary (31 TDs, 5 INTs). They’re probably thinking about revenge after losing 48-21 at North Carolina last year allowing 578 yards (326 rushing), though the road team has covered six of the last eight meetings.
#13 Oklahoma/#9 Oklahoma State (Saturday): Bedlam in Stillwater! Oklahoma bounced back from its first defeat with a 28-21 win over Iowa State. Freshman QB Caleb Williams (15 TDs, 4 INTs) has loads of weapons to utilize in this hurry-up attack. The Sooners are 12-3-1 ATS as a road dog. But they won’t find the going easy against this tremendous Oklahoma State (10-1 SU, 9-2 ATS) defense that is No. 2 in the nation in points allowed (14.8 pg), third in yards surrendered. Home field is often less important in rivalry showdowns and note that the visitors are 7-2 ATS when these Big 12 rivals clash.
Steelers/Bengals (Sunday): A pair of AFC North teams with winning records just behind first-place Baltimore. Pittsburgh is in a difficult situational spot, its second straight road game after a wild loss Monday night at the Chargers, 41-37. In addition, the injuries are piling up sapping the offensive line depth along with tight end Eric Ebron (knee injury) and the defensive secondary. Pittsburgh is 34-15-3 ATS as an underdog, 19-7-1 ATS as a road dog, 42-14-1 UNDER the total away from home. The Bengals are home after playing four of five on the road, fresh off an impressive 32-13 win at the Raiders. Of course, they lost their last two home games to the Packers (25-22) and Browns (41-16). And their other two home games were 3-point wins over the Vikings and Jaguars. And the Steelers are 16-4-2 ATS in this stadium.
Rams/Packers: Los Angeles comes off a bye week riding a two-game skid. They hope the extra time has given newcomers WR Odell Beckham Jr. and DE Von Miller time to digest the playbook. QB Matthew Stafford (24 TDs, 8 INTs) has cooled off with 2 TDs, 4 picks the last two games. The Rams are 25-11-1 ATS against the NFC. Green Bay comes off a 34-31 loss at Minnesota with the defense still fifth in points (19.5 pg), seventh in yards, though #28 on third down. The Packers have won all four Lambeau Field games this season by 18, 10, 14, and 17 points. The favorite is 10-1 ATS when these teams clash with Green Bay covering the last 7.
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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT –
PLAYIN’ A LITTLE GAME OF “FACT” OR “FICTION” …
PLUS, OUR NFL NEWS & NOTES SEGMENT
FOCUSES ON DOUBLE-DIGIT FAVS
(ONE OF THE BETTER INVESTMENTS THIS SEASON!)
Have you checked out the NFL Week 8 menu?
Well, of course you have by now, but did you notice that at this minute the Buffalo Bills, the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs are priced as double-digit betting favorites … and you might add the Cincinnati Bengals to that list too before long ‘cause Cincy is right now a 9.5-point fav at the hapless / hopeless New York Jets.
And what exactly are we getting at?
Listen up … so far NFL Double-Digit Betting Favorites are a slick (and very profitable) 8-3 ATS (against the spread) this 2021 season, good for a .727 winning rate.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers – your defending Super Bowl champions – really rule the roost as twin-figure favorites with a sparkling 3-0 ATS log in this category with wins / covers against 13-point pup Atlanta (Week 2), 11-point underdog Miami (Week 5) and 12-point dog Chicago (Week 7) and note Arizona, Buffalo, Denver, Green Bay and Indianapolis each own a single spread win / cover as double-digit favorites.
Once upon a time we were “taught” that NFL Double-Digit Betting Favorites was a bad investment.
From the looks of it thus far in ’21, that’s simply not the case.
Hey, don’t look now but there are actually 37 FBS teams that already have played eight (8) games this 2021 season … and don’t forget that sad-sack UConn has played nine games to date.
In other words, nearly 30 percent of the country’s major-college gridiron programs already have played a full two-thirds of their regular-season schedule – wow, did that go by quickly, eh? – and so we wanted to take a few minutes to examine some “Fact” or “Fiction” pointspread-related items with some of these squads:
NEBRASKA – Big Red’s just 3-5 SU (straight-up) on the year and most folks would call this a disaster season but we say nay, nay, nay.
Take a closer look and you’ll see that under-siege head coach Scott Frost – yes, he’s probably “dead man walking” these days – has guided the Cornhuskers to a better-than-you-thought 5-3 ATS mark that includes underdog covers at Oklahoma and at Michigan State.
The ‘Huskers were 22.5- and 3.5-point pups in those back-to-back September tilts and the FACT is Nebraska figures to be dangerous as dogs in year-ending games against Purdue, Ohio State, at Wisconsin and Iowa. Take note that Nebraska is a full TD betting fav this weekend at home against the Purdue Boilermakers and Frost’s guys have covered three-of-four games in Lincoln this year.
UTSA – Don’t be ashamed to admit that you didn’t know these Roadrunners enter their bye this weekend with a perfect 8-and-oh SU mark while banging out a spiffy 7-1 ATS log. Truth be told, UTSA sports a + 165-point differential (that’s 315-to-150) and Jeff Traylor’s gang has covered all four of its away games (at Illinois, Memphis, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech).
The other FBS teams with a similar pointspread record are as follows:
Kentucky (6-1 ATS), Michigan (6-1), Pittsburgh (6-1), Bowling Green (6-2), New Mexico State (6-2) and Virginia (6-2) and – please note — Syracuse’s 7-and-1 spread log happens to be equal to UTSA as the best pointspread record in the land at this very moment.
The FACT is UTSA has covered 20 of its last 30 games overall and the R-Runners are winning games this year by an average of 20.5 points.
Tennessee’s “turned the corner” behind first-year head ball coach Josh Heupel, right?
Ladies and gents, that would be pure FICTION considering the Rocky Toppers – fresh off last weekend’s 52-24 loss at 25-point favorite Alabama – exited that SEC affair at just 3-5 against the odds this 2021 season and so that would make the Volunteers a composite 24-40 ATS since the start of the 2016 season. Yikes!
Sure, this year’s Vols have shown some life and some moxie – we recall the back-to-back high-scoring wins / covers against Mizzou and South Carolina that had us thinking the arrow was pointing up for Big Orange — but it’s hard to ignore the fact Tennessee ranks 119th nationally in overall defense and remains a betting dud.
We’ll keep this one short-and-sweet:
The consensus feeling prior to the start of this here-and-now season was that Georgia / Alabama / Ohio State /Oklahoma / Oregon was far-and-away better than anyone out there and this quintet would crush most of their opponents versus the vig.
Again, that’s turned out to be FICTION as the Dawgs / Tide / Buckeyes/ Sooners /Ducks enter this last weekend in October a combined 21-20-2 against the odds. Not great considering all the summertime hype, right?
Finally, note that there’s a true blockbuster game ahead this weekend – that’s unbeaten #6 Michigan at undefeated #8 Michigan State as these teams are a combined 14-0 SU and 11-3 ATS – and a bevy of fun showdowns (see #1 Gorgia vs. three-loss and two-TD underdog Florida, #10 Ole Miss at #18 Auburn and #20 Penn State at #5 Ohio State) and we’ll have plenty to say about these showdowns later in the week.
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Situational Handicapping, Defense Takes a Holiday, Saints/Seahawks
If I told you a football game was going to go 9 overtimes would you put the mortgage on the OVER? Illinois shocked No. 7 Penn State in a 20-18 upset as a 24-point road dog. And it still failed to go OVER the total of 45. The game was also a great example of situational handicapping and how important coaching in football is. Penn State was coming off its first loss of the season, a 23-20 slugfest at Iowa in a Top 10 showdown. Illinois was off a bye with two weeks to watch game film and identify weaknesses that might be exploited. The Illini coaching staff under Bret Bielema stacked the line on first down to contain the Nittany Lion ground game while using fullbacks and dual tight ends to augment its own ground attack. Illinois passed for just 38 yards while running for 357, 5.3 yards per carry. Penn State ran for just 62 yards, 2.1 ypc.
Another team in a rough situational spot was USC and the betting public was hammering Notre Dame all week. Off a 42-26 home loss to Utah, the dysfunctional Trojans had to travel to Indiana to the raucous house of Knute Rockne and got steamrolled by Notre Dame, 31-16, as a +6 dog. The Irish defensive game plan was to prevent USC from connecting on big plays. USC moved the football (428 total yards) but Notre Dame tightened up in the red zone where big plays are harder to come by with a shorter field, knowing the undisciplined Trojans are prone to self-destructing (2 more turnovers, 9 penalties). It was Notre Dame’s first home contest since Cincinnati ended their 26-game home winning streak, so the team had a chip on its shoulder to start a new streak. And bettors never really had to sweat with a 24-3 lead going into the fourth quarter.
NFL Chalk Eaters: For decades the NFL has coveted parity but Sunday we saw three monster favorites of 12-17 points. Tampa Bay went from -10 to -12 and they had no trouble shellacking the punchless Bears, 38-3. The Rams/Lions featured the two teams that swapped QBs Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. Los Angeles took all the public money going from a 13 to 16-point favorite, winning the game 28-19 but the underdog got the cash. The biggest favorite of all was undefeated Arizona with the oddsmakers trying to embarrass the Texans making them a 17-point dog. After taking a 5-0 lead, Houston got steamrolled in a 31-5 defeat getting outgained 397-160 as the chalk eaters celebrated. It was the third time in four weeks the Texans failed to score a touchdown, now on a 5-1 run UNDER the total.
Won SNF Colts over 49ers
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Defense Takes a Holiday: A string of college football teams forgot that Saturday was Game Day. Army had its ground game rolling with 416 yards (595 total yards), but it wasn’t enough in a 70-56 loss to undefeated Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons had 638 yards, 458 of them in the air from QB Sam Hartman. It was 28-21 at the half, so those who bet OVER 53 points were sitting pretty…Florida State went OVER the total by themselves in a 59-3 rout of UMass…The Syracuse/Virginia Tech total sat at 46 all week, after which their run defenses sat on the bench. Virginia Tech ran for 260 yards at home but still lost 41-36 as the Orangemen rushed for 314 yards, a whopping 7 yards per carry! And Hokie coach Justin Fuente was on the hot seat before the game…The Oregon/UCLA total was bet up from 58 to 60 and it sailed OVER in a 34-31 shootout. Underdog Oregon was my Rivalry Game of the Month, getting the win and the money for my clients. Oddly, UCLA has won three straight road games but has lost three straight at home despite being favorites of -11, -3, and -1.
NFL Wagering Notes: Kansas City got the money but Tennessee got the win…and then some. The Titans keep getting better each week and peaked in a 27-3 rout. QB Patrick Mahomes had no TDs, one interception, and was sacked 4 times. Throw in Tennessee’s 34-31 win over Buffalo last week and they beat last year’s AFC Championship game finalists in six days. And Mahomes has now been intercepted in six consecutive games. The Titans were part of my AFC/NFC Parlay, cashing both ends when the Giants stuffed the Falcons, 25-3. A vote for C.J. Moseley for MVP? The Jets linebacker didn’t even play Sunday but without him the Patriots ran the football at will in a 54-13 thumping. Pats rookie QB Mac Jones keeps getting better each week with 307 yards…The Bengals not only won as a 6-point dog they thumped the Ravens on the road, 41-17. Rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase was unstoppable with 201 yards…Miami opened as the favorite but the Falcons got the money and close as chalk in the biggest NFL line move of the week. The game and the point spread weren’t decided until the final play, an Atlanta field goal in a 30-28 victory. The Denver Broncos are Top 10 in run defense, but the Cleveland Browns ran right through them in a 17-14 win with 182 yards on the ground, 5.5 yards per carry. All the focus on the Cleveland offense has been the health of QB Baker Mayfield and we got that answer as he sat while Case Keenum started. But the Browns were also minus their top two running backs and still steamrolled the Broncos as D’Ernest Johnson had 146 yards. That great ground attack gave the Browns an edge in time of possession almost 37-23, which they are No. 1 in the NFL at. This offensive line deserves a pay raise and should keep Cleveland in the thick of the playoff hunt alongside a defense that is No. 2 in yards allowed, third against the run.
Sharp Money Moves: Don’t ignore money moves, especially on smaller college conferences. Underdog Toledo got a lot of money Saturday and the wise guys were correct in a 34-15 rout of Western Michigan. Western Michigan led 15-13 at the half as a small favorite, but Toledo outscored them 21-0 in the third with the Glass Bowl rocking. BYU was another big play moving from -1.5 to -4. The early wise guy money cashed as the Cougars squeezed out a 21-19 victory at Washington State. A late touchdown by WSU was significant after BYU led 21-13, a dreaded backdoor cover for some. Yes, it pays to line shop early! Public parlay bettors split as Alabama and Cincinnati were thrown into many parlays. Alabama barely covered in a 52-24 win over Tennessee, but Cincinnati never came close in a 27-20 win at Navy as a 4-TD favorite (Navy was one of my releases at +29). Sharp money was all OVER the Georgia Tech/Virginia total moving it from 61.5 to 63.5, an easy win in a 48-40 Virginia victory. Both teams had over 239 yards rushing and 300+ yards passing. The Virginia defense allowed 570 yards, while the G-Tech ‘D’ surrendered 636. Bronco Mendenhall’s Virginia defense was actually better than those stats suggest allowing 195 first-quarter yards, but settling down after that stopping the Yellow Jackets on seven straight third-down tries. Sharp money also pushed the Kent State/Ohio TOTAL from 64 up to 66.5 and fell just short in a 34-27 Kent victory despite both teams having 457 total yards. Ohio had a first-and-goal at the Kent State one-yard line in the final minute but ended up settling for a field goal with 47 seconds to play – a difference of 4 points that would have cashed for many of those TOTALS bettors. THAT’S the definition of a bad beat.
Saints/Seahawks (Monday): Hurley wins on Monday Night Football with Seahawks and the UNDER. ( all Primetime game s record now a documented 15-2)
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NFL WEEK 7 REPORT –
‘CAPPING THE MARQUEE MATCHUPS
ON THIS SUNDAY’S CARD PLUS
SPREAD STUFF ON UNBEATEN ARIZONA …
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE:
WE WEIGH IN ON A COUPLE OF “UNDER-THE-RADAR” TILTS
Big Scores To Continue This Week
*Total Of Week – UNDER Broncos + UNDER In 1st Half.
*Prime Time Plays Now On 15-3 Run
*College Game Of Week…SMU Crushes Tulane
*3-1 Featured NFL Last Week…Win With Chiefs, Ravens…Monday Night Titans…Only Loss Bengals
Let’s clue you all in on some key pointspread numbers:
As the NFL Week 7 unfurls – last night’s 17-14 win/cover by the Cleveland Browns over the 1.5-point underdog Denver Broncos got it all jump-started – we remind you that NFL Betting Favorites this year now are a collective 44-50-0 ATS (against the spread) with one Pick ‘Em game (that’s a still-shabby .468 winning rate) while NFL Home Teams are an even worse 41-54-0 vig-wise (a .431 winning percentage).
Take note that the Baltimore Ravens have failed to cover three-of-four games when in the chalk role; the Kansas City Chiefs are just 2-4 spreadwise as betting favs and both the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers each have failed to cover three-of-four games when placed in the favorite’s role.
In other words, some of the league’s biggest “name teams” have really dropped the ball when it comes to cashing out as chalk sides and – you wonder –if that’s gonna turn around sooner rather than later.
Interestingly enough, the Ravens /Chiefs / Patriots / 49ers are all Betting Favorites on this next-to-last Sunday in October, so we’ll be keenly interested to see if they’re gonna “reward” their money backers.
Meanwhile, we have our antenna up for two marquee matchups on this here-and-now NFL Week 7 card, so let’s dig in …
On Sunday, it’s …
CINCINNATI (4-2) at BALTIMORE (5-1) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
You know the deal: Baltimore’s won its last five in a row SU (straight-up) and is fresh off last weekend’s dominant 34-6 win against the Los Angeles Chargers when the Ravens owned clock 38:07-to-21:53. In a play Jim had right on top in Service. And while Jim did suffer his lone loss on the 3-1 featured NFL Weekend Plays with Cincinnati, he is all over this game.
Now, if the NFL’s 4th-best rushing attack – starring QB Lamar Jackson and his nifty 6.1 yards-per-pop average – can hammer-and-tong the Bengals in the trenches, this could be a lights-out game. But one note on the frisky Bengals: Second-year QB Joe Burrow is completing nearly 71 percent of his throws this season and just this week former Super Bowl 25 MVP Phil Simms called him a “modern-day Joe Montana”.
Current Las Vegas Lines … Ravens – 6.5 and 46.5 points
Pointspread Notes – The Ravens are an electric 8-3-1 ATS when playing divisional games since the start of the 2019 season (yes, this is Baltimore’s first AFC North game and note John Harbaugh’s crew will play five of its final seven regular-season tilts inside the division) while Cincinnati’s a solid 16-11 spreadwise away the past three-plus seasons.
KANSAS CITY (3-3) at TENNESSEE (4-2) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Maybe last week’s second-half showing in the nation’s capital is what gets the two-time defending AFC champion KayCee Chiefs going: Jim certainly thought so as he tabbed the Chiefs as another Service Winner.
Consider that Andy Reid’s crew outscored the Washington Football Team 21-zip after intermission last Sunday and there were headliners all around including QB Patrick Mahomes (see 397 yards passing and two aerial TDs) but the $64,000 question here is can Tennessee’s somewhat battered secondary keep everything “in front” of ‘em here?
Short week for the Titans who come off MNF’s 34-31 upset win against Buffalo and now trying to cover a third consecutive game for the first time since late ’19 (you can look it up!).
Current Las Vegas Lines … Chiefs – 4.5 and 57.5 points
Pointspread Notes – Go back to the start of the 2019 season and you’ll see the Titans are 10-6 spreadwise as point-grabbers while the Chiefs are now 3-13-1 ATS dating back to the middle of 2020.
Okay, so we can’t – and we won’t – wrap up an NFL segment here without something to say about the still-undefeated Arizona Cardinals who are whopping 17.5-point favorites against sad-sack Houston this Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS):
The Redbirds – 6-0 SU — have covered four in a row heading into this bash and they’re 5-1 ATS overall this special season but did ‘ya know that this NFC West club is 15-9 ATS when playing non-divisional foes since the start of 2019 and ‘Zona is 5-and-oh spreadwise this year when holding opponents to 20 points or less. Just sayin’!
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Plenty to say about the College kids even if this weekend’s action lacks a true “blockbuster game” – the USC at #13 Notre Dame tilt and that “third Saturday in October” bash between old SEC rivals Tennessee at #4 Alabama are nice prime-time affairs but nothing knocks your socks off – but let’s weigh in on a couple of “under-the-radar” games …
Nevada (5-1) at Fresno State (5-2) is a doozy in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference as the visiting Wolf Pack (a 3.5-point pup after opening as just a 1.5-point underdog) believes savvy QB Carson Strong (1,990 yards passing with 16 TDs and 3 INTs) can steer the Wolf Pack into the winner’s circle. Strong – in case you have not heard — is being talked up as a “top five” potential NFL draftee next spring.
#8 Oklahoma State (6-0) is at Iowa State (4-2) and why this IS an under-the-radar game remains a mystery ‘cause the O-State Cowboys already have won at 3.5-point fav Boise State and at 3-point choice Texas and – don’t look now – Pokes RB Jaylen Warren (33 carries for 193 yards rushing in last week’s comeback 32-24 win in Austin) is making a belated case for this year’s Heisman Trophy.
Football Coaches, Chiefs/Titans, Totals and Run Defense
Football is arguably the most difficult sport to coach. There are so many players that have to be assessed, organized, taught, and motivated, in addition to weekly game planning. When the Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, GM Steve Keim wanted to bring in experienced assistants as Kingsbury had never coached in the NFL. With Kingsbury out Sunday in a Covid protocol, assistant head coach Jeff Rodgers and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph split the head coaching chores, while assistant wide receivers coach Spencer Whipple called the plays. The Cardinals won at Cleveland, 37-14, as an underdog to move to 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS. The Baltimore Ravens have a terrific coach in John Harbaugh, who wins and covers in preseason and when the games count.
The Ravens are on a 5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS run after shutting down the Chargers, 34-6. In college, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has been in the news all week. He returned to Tennessee Saturday, a team he coached for one year before bolting, and came away with a 31-26 victory to vault to No. 12 in the polls. Kiffin deserves credit for recruiting a gem in QB Matt Corral (14 TDs, 1 INT). But don’t overlook Kiffin’s whole body of work, which has been filled with sloppy play and underachieving teams. Kiffin’s not the kind of coach I look at and think, “His game preparation and management is worth 2-3 points this week.” After all, they’ve played two Top 20 teams and went 0-2 ATS, getting crushed by Alabama, 41-21, while squeaking by Arkansas, 52-51, as a 5-point favorite. Even with Corral last season, Ole Miss had a losing record in the regular season losing to Florida (51-35), ‘Bama (63-48). Arkansas (33-21), Auburn (35-28), and LSU (53-48). In the loss to a 5-5 LSU squad, Ole Miss turned it over 6 times and blew a 48-40 lead. In the loss to Arkansas, they coughed it up 7 times. In his lone NFL stint, Kiffin’s Oakland Raiders went 4-12 and his 2012 USC team was a preseason No. 1 but flopped at 7-6. It was the first time since 1963 that a preseason No. 1 finished unranked. Ole Miss has a chance for a strong finish with all this offensive talent, but the schedule is challenging at Auburn, Texas A&M, and LSU. They even have 5-1 Liberty on the schedule, a team that upset Virginia Tech last year, 38-35. The biggest concern is injured QB Corral, who is questionable to play on Saturday. Maybe Kiffin is a better coach than in the past…or maybe another sloppy 6-turnover upset is on the horizon.
Miami Flounders: The rebuilding Houston Texans have the worst point differential in the NFL at minus-80, which was not unexpected. But who is second-worst? The Miami Dolphins (-78). Expectations were high after going 10-6 last year, but 2021 is shaping up as a train wreck. Miami is on a 0-5 SU, 1-4 ATS run after losing in London, 23-20, to the Jaguars. To add salt to the wound, it was Jacksonville’s first win in 21 games. The Dolphins are last in the league in rushing with 71.5 yards per game, #27 in yards per rush (3.7), while the defense is second-worst on third down (52.44%), third-worst in total yards allowed, fourth-worst in passing yards surrendered. QB Tua Tagovailoa is back and there are plenty of easy games on the schedule, so they won’t end up, say, 2-14. Note that head coach Brian Flores has been a strong finisher, 18-8 ATS after the first month of the season.
Speaking of string finishers…it does not get any better than the Titans’ goal line stand to upset the Bills on Monday night for ANOTHER JIM PRIME TIME WINNER.
That outright Dog triumph moved Jim’s DOCUMNTED PRIME TIME RUN to an amazing 14-2 (remember, the clients who play these games are reading this) ATS Mark. And the next “W” is set for Thursday Night Football!
Broncos @ Browns – 8:20 PM (FOX/NFLN)
*Each Team Has Shown Some Promise
*Each Team Coming Off A Loss
^Each Team In Need Of A Win – You’ll Know Which One Gets It!
NFL Totals and Run ‘D’: If you can’t stop the run, opponents don’t need to pass. That’s one flaw with the Chargers, dead last in the NFL in run defense (surrendering 162.5 yards per game) and yards per carry (5.4). If opponents can run successfully that chews up yards and keeps the clock moving, the right mix for bettors who play UNDERs. The Chargers have high totals because of their offensive potential but are actually 5-1 UNDER. The Eagles (4-2 UNDER) are fifth-worst at stopping the run, while the Lions are seventh-worst and have gone 4 straight UNDER the total. Seattle is #23 in yards per carry allowed (4.4), #29 in run defense (140.8 yards per game allowed), 4-1-1 UNDER the total.
Broncos at Browns (Thursday): Two shell-shocked walking zombies, perfect with Halloween approaching. Based on preseason and offseason moves, neither expected to be 3-3 coming into this one. And one will have a losing record 3 hours later. Denver has lost 3 in a row despite being favored in all 6 games. QB Teddy Bridgewater (10 TDs, 4 INTs) has been very good but is battling a foot injury. The Broncos are 27-13-1 UNDER the total versus the AFC. The Browns have even more injuries with RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt out while QB Baker Mayfield (6 TDs, 3 INTs) is dealing with shoulder problems. And then there’s the Cleveland defense that has been torched the last two games surrendering 47 and 37 points. NFL favorites like the Browns are 19-46 ATS after a game where they had a minus-3 turnover margin or worse.
Wisconsin at #25 Purdue (Saturday): This is the first time in 14 years Purdue has cracked the Top 25. After going 4-8 and 2-4 the last two years, fans are going to be sky-high. Purdue’s defense leads the way as the ground game is averaging just 2.8 ypc while rotating QBs Aidan O’Connell (6 TDs, 5 INTs) and Jack Plummer (7 TDs, no INTs). Wisconsin is on a 19-10 spread run on the road but doesn’t scare anyone offensively with two QBs combining for 3 TDs, 9 picks. The Badgers are 11-3 ATS against the Boilermakers, including covering 7 straight at Purdue.
Chiefs at Titans: This looks like an AFC playoff preview. Kansas City has lost 3 of 5 despite being favored in every game. QB Patrick Mahomes (18 TDs, 8 INTs) leads a star-studded offense that is second in total yards (433.5). It’s the defense that’s been awful, #27 in yards and points (29.3 pg) allowed, #29 on third down. KC is on a 4-13 spread run, 4-12 ATS as a favorite. Tennessee is rounding into form off wins at Jacksonville (37-19) and at home against the Bills (34-31). The game plan is obvious: hand the ball off to power back Derrick Henry (783 yards) 25+ times. These teams haven’t met since 2019 when Tennessee won the regular-season meeting, 35-32, then the Chiefs won the AFC Championship, 35-24. NFL teams with a winning record like the Titans are 113-184 ATS off an upset win as a home dog.
Jim Hurley is also a strong finisher, cashing consistently for decades with sides, totals, parlays, and coveted high end releases. He can help build your bankroll right through the Super Bowl. Get on board Jim Hurley’s Network by calling 1-800-323-4453 or direct 1-516-669-7819, or online at VegasSportsMaster.pro.
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THE NFL REPORT –
A SALUTE TO THOSE “EARLY GAME”
BETTING FAVORITES THAT SWEPT THE BOARD …
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES
CAN’T IGNORE THE CINCINNATI KIDS ANYMORE!
Sometimes you just need to give everything a little bit of proper perspective:
Consider that the just-completed NFL Week 6 included the following …
A 28-point loss by the co-AFC West leading Los Angeles Chargers, a fourth consecutive home loss this year for Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots and – get this – three different overtime games (one of which was the Pats’ 35-29 setback versus Dallas, of course) and did we forget that the fact the Jacksonville Jaguars won their first game since their 2020 season opener?
In other words, some crazy stuff happened in NFL Week 6 but none any crazier than the fact than NFL Betting Favorites banged out a perfect 7-and-oh ATS (against the spread) mark in those 1 p.m. Eastern time tilts last Sunday – hats off to Indianapolis, Green Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Rams for that rare chalk sweep – and do realize that NFL Week 6 Road Betting Favorites on Sunday cashed out at a spiffy 6-1 ATS record and, yes, that included Miami’s last-second 23-20 loss in London against those aforementioned J’ville Jaguars.
Meanwhile, if you inhaled all the NFL Week 6 stuff then you know this too …
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers still “owns” those rival Chicago Bears (P.S., the Packers now have covered eight of their last nine head-to-head games against Da Bears following the 24-14 win/cover!) plus GB’s now covered five in a row since that Week 1 embarrassment against New Orleans;
Dallas remains the one-and-only NFL squad to start off this current campaign at 6-0 ATS and may we point out the fact that the Cowboys’ best overall single-season spread record in recent memory was that 13-4 ATS log back in a 2016 season that year ingloriously ended with a home playoff loss to – you got it – Rodgers and the Packers;
And Arizona is the last of the unbeaten survivors following last Sunday’s never-in-doubt 37-14 win/cover at 3-point fav Cleveland. Lots of fun stats comin’ out of that runaway win but our favorite is that the Cardinals’ megastar QB Kyler Murray fired four scoring strikes and zero interceptions and thus his up-to-date figures there say he’s thrown 14 TDs and 4 INTs through the first six games this 2021 season. Va-va-va voom!
Next up, the Redbirds are listed as bloated 17-point home favorites versus woe-be-gone Houston.
Also, a reminder that there are six NFL teams with a bye this week – Miami is not one of ‘em despite coming off its overseas game – as Buffalo, Dallas, Jacksonville, the Los Angeles Chargers, Minnesota and Pittsburgh get to rest and just thought we’d let you know that last year NFL teams went a collective 14-18 versus the vig in their first post-bye games … not good and not nearly what one might think, right?
To put a capper on the here-and-now NFL, Tennessee’s hang-on-for-dear-life 34-31 win against 6-point road fav Buffalo on Monday Night Football was action packed (see seven different lead changes) but wasn’t Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel “playing with fire” by not calling his timeouts on defense late on that Bills’ drive – it was very Belichick-ian of him, we thought.
Kelso Sturgeon completed another banner week that included 7-0 SWEEP of the NFL…3-0 Best Bets, 2-0 Chairman’s Club and his 100 Unit Game of the Week (Chiefs [-6.5] over Washington 31-13) plus last Thursday, Eagles over Buccaneers.
Hammerin. Hank Goldberg’s HAMMER PLAYS now 12-4 on Season…Best College Play Saturday, Best NFL Play Sunday plus select weekday games, including Monday Night plays like last night’s Titans upset of the Bills.
And speaking of Monday Night, Jim Hurley also cashed in on the Titans last night, and that ran his amazing PRIME TIME Games record to 14-2…check out the Wednesday Night Coastal-Carolina @ Appalachian State offer for the overall record.
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We know the powers-that-be that run the sport of College Football have turned a blind eye to the “Group of 5” teams over the years – see the 2018 edition of the UCF Knights that registered a 12-0 SU (straight-up) mark before getting shut out of the four-team playoff – but this may finally be the year in which the “little guys” have their say.
As y’all know, the Cincinnati Bearcats (6-0 SU / 5-1 ATS) have climbed to #2 in the polls following last weekend’s 56-21 demolition of three-TD pup UCF (speak of the devil) and future schedule be damned but there’s a pretty good case that these Cincinnati kids will be 13-0 SU prior to the playoff / bowl announcements while there may not be a single Power 5 team that’s unbeaten.
That’s saying #1 Georgia loses somewhere along the line (maybe even in the SEC Championship Game) and ditto for the likes of current fellow unbeatens Coastal Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, UTSA and Wake Forest – all of these guys are ranked beneath Cincinnati right now.
No doubt there will be plenty of squawking coming from, let’s say, the Pac-12 where #10 Oregon (5-1 SU) and either a one-loss Big 10 team or a one-loss Oklahoma / Oklahoma State crew could get nudged out of that fourth playoff spot. And wouldn’t that be a kick if a Power 5 conference called for “playoff expansion” because a mid-major team grabbed up a spot. Ha, ha.
Here’s a pointspread update for all you folks that have been asking:
Last week College Football Betting Favorites went a dead-even but vig-losing 25-25 ATS (with one Pick ‘Em game between Ole Miss vs. Tennessee) and so heading into this week’s action the season-long tally looks like this:
Betting Favorites are a sub-par 225-237-10 against the odds.
If you’re looking at this week’s college card then you might have noticed a couple of oddities:
Clemson is listed as a 3.5-point pup at Pittsburgh – the Tigers have been dogs just three times in their last 62 games – plus unbeaten Oklahoma State is a full TD underdog at Iowa State and – get this – the Okie State Cowboys are a scintillating 10-2 ATS as point-grabbers since the start of the 2018 campaign.
Bye Weeks, Bills/Titans, NFL Major Money Move$
The NFL bye weeks just began. Ideally, a team would like a bye either at the halfway point of the season or later especially with the new 17-game schedule. This gives potential playoff teams or divisional leaders a chance to heal and catch a breather, a nice plus in November or December. However, having the byes this earlier is more of a burden. The last place Jets and Falcons just had their bye week and think how they feel knowing they have to play 12 straight weeks with no break. The Falcons have a losing spread mark (2-3 ATS) and have already played three home games, so seven of their remaining 12 at on the road.
The defense is fifth-worst in points allowed (29.6 per game) giving up 32 to the Eagles, 34 to Washington, and 48 to Tampa Bay. That bad ‘D’ will probably get worn down and having the bye this early won’t help. A pair of college teams off of bye weeks are Michigan and Wake Forest, meaning both are still undefeated. Michigan was 2-4 last season including ugly losses to Indiana (38-21) and Wisconsin (49-11). They have Indiana coming up and have already exacted revenge on the Badgers, 38-17.
What’s happened is that their strength coming into the season, the offensive line, has been a huge rock that has led the way. This is why returning experience in college athletics can be so important. Four starters on the O-line returned for a Wolverines line that led the Big Ten with the fewest tackles for loss allowed in 2020, along with three of their top wide receivers. This season the ground game is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, a staple for both Harbaugh brothers.
On defense, first-year coordinator Mike Macdonald (from the Baltimore Ravens) brought in a new scheme featuring more zone coverage and the results have been outstanding allowing 15.5 ppg. They get big tests with games on deck against Northwestern, Penn State, and rivals Michigan State/Ohio State. After going 4-5 last year, Wake Forest has had an eye-opening campaign.
Sophomore QB Sam Hartman (14 TDs, 3 INTs) has been the glue that keeps this offense humming scoring 35 or more points in every game. But there are some areas of concern. The defense just allowed 514 yards to Syracuse (including 354 yards rushing) in a 40-37 thriller. The Demon Deacons also don’t run the football very well (4.0 ypc), something that could hurt as the weather gets cooler and windier. And the schedule gets tougher with games against North Carolina, NC State, and Clemson on deck. North Carolina hung 59 on Wake last season, Clemson won 37-13, plus Wisconsin clobbered them in a bowl, 42-28.
Bills at Titans (Monday): A potential NFL playoff preview between two teams likely to win their divisions. Buffalo (13-3 spread run) is a beast outscoring opponents by a league-leading 108 points. QB Josh Allen (12 TDs, 2 INTs) has only been sacked five times while the defense has pitched two shutouts. Buffalo comes off a 38-20 thrashing of Kansas City as a dog and is 14-5-1 OVER the total after a victory. Tennessee is rounding into form, winning three of four (3-1 ATS). A weak spot is the offensive line with QB Ryan Tannehill getting sacked 20 times already…and the Bills defense is fifth in sacks (2.8 per game). The underdog has covered six straight when these teams clash including a 42-16 Tennessee rout a year ago in Nashville.
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Big 12 Betting Notes: Oklahoma Sooners QB Spencer Rattler opened as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy earlier this year. You can burn those future tickets as freshman QB Caleb Williams got his first start Saturday and was outstanding in a 52-31 win over TCU. The offense rolled up 521 yards and moved into the Top 20 in total yards and points (37.2 pg). It’s the third straight game that Oklahoma went OVER the total by double-digits, now 6-2 OVER…Home underdog Texas got the money but unbeaten Oklahoma State got the win and cover, 32-24, after trailing 24-13. Bettors were right on the total, which went from 65 to 61. Ok-State is 4-2 UNDER the total with a strong defense and committed to running the football even when they trailed Texas 17-3…Baylor got all the money, opening as a home underdog but closing as the favorite. The Bears really dominated No. 19 BYU rolling up 303 yards on the ground (6.4 ypc) along with 534 total yards. It was not only homecoming for Baylor, but offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes had been the OC at BYU the previous three years.
Everybody Loves Cincinnati! It’s no secret: Both the Vegas wise guys and the betting public keep backing the Cincinnati Bearcats. The line jumped from 16 to 21 and the unbeaten Bearcats still covered in a 56-21 rout of Central Florida. They led 35-7 at the half and finished with 336 yards rushing. It must have been extra sweet for coach Luke Fickell. Fickell was hired in 2016 and had to sit through losses to Central Florida of 51-23 (2017) and 38-13 (2018), the latter when Cincy had an 11-2 season. Cincinnati has covered every game (5-0 ATS) this season, so oddsmakers may have to anticipate inflating the line.
NFL Major Money Move$: The Chargers 47-42 win over the Browns helped to unleash a slew of money for the OVER on the Chargers/Ravens showdown Sunday, pushing it from 48 to 51. The argument for it would be a bad matchup for the Chargers’ defense, last in the league versus the run while the Ravens are one of the best. The argument against would be the Baltimore defense is outstanding, Top 10 in points allowed, against the run, and on third down. That defense led the way in a 34-6 beatdown of the Chargers and OVER bettors. Los Angeles had just 208 total yards and went 3-of-12 on third down.
The Chargers are now 5-1 UNDER the total. The total on the Cardinals/Browns total plummetted from 53 to 48 fueled by windy conditions in Cleveland Sunday. It was a sound wagering angle…until the game started as Arizona led 23-14 at the half. Amazing Arizona is 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS despite playing four road games. Cleveland’s heralded defense has been a bust of late, giving up 47 to the Chargers and now the Cardinals ripping them for 37 points while going 8-of-15 on third down. That’s been a weak spot all season for the Browns, in the bottom 10 defensively on third down.
And Arizona is in the Top 3 after holding Cleveland to 3-of-10 on third down. With Jon Gruden stepping down in Vegas, sportsbooks moved the number on the Broncos a bit. They didn’t have to as the Raiders rolled, 34-24. Denver QB Teddy Bridgewater had his worst game of the season with three interceptions. The sportsbooks were rooting for the Patriots to cover as money poured in on the Dallas Cowboys all week. New England came oh-so-close to winning in a thriller and helping the books. Instead, an overtime TD pass by Dak Prescott had the betting public doing cartwheels while bookmakers were taking aspirin and phoning the accounting department. Such is life in the world of eleven-to-ten!
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100-Unit SEC Game Of Year Set To Win Today
Going For 4 th Straight 100-Unit NFL Winner Sunday
Dodgers +135 Favorites To Repeat As World Series Champions
NBA Begins Season Tuesday Night With Two TV Games
The Week’s College Money Moves…NFL Handicapping Hints
FROM THE LAS VEGAS DESK OF FOOTBALL HANDICAPPER KELSO STURGEON…
A Successful Veteran Of 44 Years In Sports Betting World And Still Winning
October 16, 2021
Time never stops, not even for a minute, and because of that little is permanent except the daily sunrise.
As tine marches on, things can change quickly from one day to the next—a fact proved each week in
college and NFL football. Last weekend the Alabama were the number-one ranked college team in the
country and the favorite to win another national championship. Today it is ranked in the #5 spot and is
the second choice to win the title. It is the same story in the NFL where last week the Kansas City Chiefs
were favored to win the Super Bowl and are now the third choice behind the Buffalo Bills and the Tampa
Why the change? They lost, and that is all it takes for fans, bookmakers, and bettors to alter their
opinions. The may be right; they may be wrong. Time will answer that question. This situation also puts
bettors in a real danger zone—that of overreacting. For instance, does Alabama’s 41-38 loss at Texas
A&M really change its hopes to win the national championship? Does the loss also put the Crimson
Tide—a 19-point favorite in College Station last week–in a major bounce-back mode this week at
Mississippi State, where they are a 17.5-point favorite—down, by the way—from an opening of -21?
Did the Aggies surprising win over Alabama put them in a bounce-down mode because they were
physically and emotionally drained in the victory? A&M is a 9-point favorite at Missouri, down from an
open of -10.
Remember earlier this season the case of Bowling Green at Minnesota. BG rolled into Minneapolis 1-2,
with losses at Tennessee, 38-6, and at home to South Alabama, 22-19, and with a 27-10 home win over
1-AA Murray State. Then came the shocker when the Falcons knocked off the Golden Gophers, 14-10, as
31-point underdogs. Bowling Green has since lost to Kent State, 27-20, and to the Akron Zips, 35-20.
The bottom line—things just happen on the football field and in the overall scheme of things mean
nothing. Time will eventually reveal the truth. Do not immediately press the panic button.
THE SATURDAY-SUNDAY BETTING MENU
Highrollers Go For Winning 100-Unit SEC Game Of The Year
Best Bets Football Club Set To Go 3-0 With Knockout “Dogs
40-Unit Side/Total Parlay Cashes For Chairman’s Club
Saturday SEC Schedule
One Of These Teams Will Be 100-Unit Winner
21 Texas A&M Aggies (4-2) at Missouri Tigers (3-3)
5 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1) at Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-2)
11 Kentucky Wildcats (6-0) at #1 Georgia Bulldogs (6-0)
20 Florida Gators (4-2) at LSU Tigers (3-3)
13 Mississippi Rebels (4-1) at Tennessee Volunteers (4-2)
Auburn Tigers (4-2) at #17 Arkansas Razorbacks (4-2)
All games and services available on the Internet at www.Vegassportsmasters.pro or toll free
at my office…1-800-755-2255 or at 1-702-420-5074.
Highrollers Going For 4 th Straight 100-Unit NFL Winners
The Previous Three
10/10…100 Units…Arizona Cardinals (-5.5) 17, San Francisco 49ers 10 (Won)
10/3…100 Units…Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) 42, Philadelphia Eagles 30 (Won)
9/26…100 Units…Arizona Cardinals (-7.5) 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 19 (Won)
Best Bets Club Won With Eagles Thursday, 2-1 Last Sunday…3-0 Today
Chairman’s Club Set To Win 25-Unit And 15-Unit Underdog Today
All games and services available on the Internet at www.Vegassportsmasters.pro or toll free
at my office…1-800-755-2255 or at 1-702-420-5074.
BIG MONEY MOVES TODAY’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES
PLUS BITS AND PIECES
Bettors were in action early in the colleges this week, with the SEC contest between unbeaten
Georgia and Kentucky getting the most action. While the tickets on Georgia outnumber those on
Kentucky by a 4-1 margin, smart money on Kentucky has driven the number down from the Bulldogs
down from -24.5 to 22.5. The second heaviest bet college game is the Alabama-Mississippi State which
has seen the number drop from the Crimson Tide -21 to -17.5.
Also getting big early wiseguy money were Florida, Eastern Michigan, Arizona, Michigan State,
Iowa, with heavy wagers on the under in Michigan State-Indiana and Troy-Texas State.
Bookmakers across the board say this week’s biggest “go-against” teams are Missouri, Kansas,
Clemson, and New Mexico.
The NBA begins its regular season Tuesday night with two games—both on TNT—and I intend to
open my season with the winners of both games. The Brooklyn Nets are at the Milwaukee Bucks and will
take the floor as 1-point favorites, with a total of 240. In the second game, the Los Angeles Lakers open
at home against the Golden State Warriors and will be favored by 5 points, with a total of 230.5. There is
much supporting evidence I am one of the top 2-3 NBA handicappers in the land and will be offering
Three rules of handicapping college and NFL football…
- Never forget the home field bias is much stronger that you think.
- If you can make a strong case for both teams in a game, skip it.
- Never go where you do not know.
The undefeated Georgia Bulldogs are the new favorites to win college football’s national
championship, listed at +130, a number that means for every winning $10 bet your would receive $13.
Alabama is now the second choice at +200, followed by Ohio State (+900), Oklahoma (+1500) and Iowa
(+2000) and Cincinnati (+2000).
Important NFL Handicapping Hints For Sunday
–Miami Dolphins (1-4) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) in London. Miami is 3-point favorite.
Jacksonville has lost 20 straight. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is expected to return as the starter after
missing three games with broken ribs.
–Green Bay Packers (4-1) at Chicago Bears. Packers are 6-point favorites, up from 4.5 at the
open, has won and covered last four against Chicago. The Bears have covered in three of their last four
home games, including both contests this year as an underdog.
–Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at Washington Football Team (2-3). Chiefs are 6-point favorite and it
is of note they are but 3-13 against the spread (ATS) in their last 16 games.
–Minnesota Vikings (2-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-2). Panthers opened as 1-point favorite in this
game but the number has moved to make Vikings the -1.5 choice. Minnesota is just 2-10 ATS in its last
12 starts and has seen its games go “over” the total by a 13-6 margin in last 19 contests. Carolina
opened 3-0 but has lost its last two. It is of note in those two losses QB Sam Darnold has been sacked
eight times and thrown five interceptions.
–Los Angeles Chargers (4-1) at Baltimore Ravens (4-1). The Ravens opened as a 3-point choice but
currently are -2.5. Los Angeles has covered in their last three as an underdog and stand 8-1 ATS in their last nine
–Arizona Cardinals (5-0) at Cleveland Browns (3-2). The Browns are 3-point favorites. Arizona
has the NFL’s fourth highest scoring offense at 31.4 points while giving up 19.0. The Browns have lost
four straight against the Cardinals. Injuries may be a factor has Cleveland had 17 players on its injury
–Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at New England Patriots (2-3). Dallas opened as a 1-point favorite and
has been bet out to -3.5. The Cowboys have scored 36 or more points in their last three games with QB
Zac Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott leading the way. Prescott has passed for 965 yards, 10
touchdowns and two interceptions in the last four games. Dallas has the second best rushing attack in
the NFL (172.8 yards per game) with Elliott leading the way with 452 yards and five touchdowns.
–Seattle Seahawks (2-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3). This game opened with the visitors a 2.5-
point favorite but once it as definite Seattle QB Russell Wilson would be out indefinitely after surgery on
his middle right finger. Starting at quarterback for the Seahawks will be Geno Smith who has backed up
Wilson the last three years. It will be his first start in four years. He took over last week when Wilson was
injured and completed 10-of-17 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.
3-1 In Football Thus Far This Week
10/14…25 Units…Philadelphia Eagles (+7) 22, Tampa Bay Bucs 28 (Won)
10/14…15 Units…South Alabama Jaguars (-3) 41, Georgia Southern Eagles 14 (Won)
10/14…15 Units…Navy Midshipmen (+10.5) 17, Memphis Tigers 35 (Lost)
10/12…15 Units…Louis Ragin’ Cajuns (+5) 41, Appalachian State Mountaineers 13 (Won)
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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND BLITZ –
WHICH UNDEFEATED TEAMS HAVE REASON
TO FRET THIS MID-OCTOBER WEEKEND? …
NFL NEWS & NOTES:
TAMPA BAY’S 28-22 NON-COVER WIN AT PHILLY
JUMP-STARTS THE WEEK 6 ACTION
Hey, let’s just jog your recent memory:
Last weekend the likes of then-No. 1 Alabama, then-No. 4 Penn State and then-No. 10 BYU all went down to defeat.
Okay, so Penn State was “expected” to lose at 2.5-point Iowa but the other guys were – to put it mildly – quite stunned by their results.
Now, the $64,000 question as we turn our gridiron attention to this Saturday’s jam-packed College Football card is what unbeaten teams truly need to be worried about being on “upset alert” here.
Ahh, we’ll be glad to tell you the truth and nothing but the truth in just a moment but consider that there are a grand total of 13 teams that are still undefeated SU (straight-up) as we head towards this mid-October weekend — and they are …
Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, SMU, UTSA and Wake Forest all remain perfecto SU but which ones could be busted in this here-and-now weekend?
Here’s some overall thoughts:
The Las Vegas price tag for the Big Ten bash between Michigan State (6-0) at short-handed Indiana has risen from Sparty minus a field goal to minus 4.5 points but may we remind y’all that Michigan State’s attempting to win/cover back-to-back road games (see last weekend’s 31-13 triumph at 4-point pup Rutgers) and that’s never an easy chore.
In fact, the last time that the Spartans won and covered back-to-back road games was in 2013. Quickie fact on the IU Hoosiers who continue to play without QB Michael Penix, Jr. (who did toss 7 INTs in parts of five games this season): Indiana’s off a bye week and comes in having lost three in a row to Mr. Vig.
Oklahoma (6-0) may take home this week’s “paranoia award” as fifth-year head coach Lincoln Riley is stewing over the fact that a couple of OU students “spotted” kid QB Caleb Williams taking the majority of snaps this week in preparation for Saturday’s high-noon Eastern time clash versus double-digit dog TCU.
Williams – who came off the pine last week to engineer the great 55-48 come-from-behind win/cover against archrival Texas by throwing for 211 yards and two TDs and rushing for 88 yards and another score – is indeed the “future” for the Sooners at the position as one-time Heisman Trophy frontrunner Spencer Rattler’s been put on ice (save for his successful two-point conversion pass against the ‘Horns) and one thing for sure is the betting public approves the switch at QBs as Oklahoma jumped from an 11.5-point fav to a 13.5-point favorite in the course of the past 48 hours.
Meanwhile, did you know the underdog Horned Frogs have covered seven of their last 11 conference games dating back to the start of last season?
That’s right, we’ll be paying extra-special attention to Michigan State at Indiana, TCU at Oklahoma here.
And one other item on the menu board here when it comes to this weekend’s College Football activity:
Lots of talk about schedules these days. For example, #2 Iowa (6-0 SU / 5-1 ATS) already has disposed of then-top 10 teams such as Iowa State and Penn State – hats off to the ‘Eyes there – but did you realize that Iowa does not play Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State? For sure, Kirk Ferentz’s team will be betting favorites in its remaining six regular-season affairs while it’s worth noting Michigan (also 6-0 SU / 5-1) still has games remaining at Michigan State, at Penn State and home to Ohio State. Hey, if the maize-and-blue gets thru that sked then Jim Harbaugh’s crew could be #1 everywhere.
One team that could be a tad overrated based on beating up some bad teams is Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons (6-0 SU / 2-3-1 ATS) own ACC wins against Florida State, Virginia, Louisville and Syracuse but truth be told there’s a chance none of those four foes (or three of em, at least) won’t even make it to the holiday bowl season.
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The NFL Week 6 menu revved up with Thursday Night’s Tampa Bay 28-22 non-cover win at 7-point dog Philadelphia (two more TD chucks by Tom Brady) but as long as we’re talkin’ unbeaten teams, well, the NFL’s only got one of ‘em while heading into Sunday’s sked:
The Arizona Cardinals are 5-0 SU and they’re a tasty 4-1 ATS (against the spread) but get a load of this:
The Redbirds – who are currently listed as a 3-point underdog in Cleveland – rank a lowly 28th league-wide in rushing defense (allowing 139 ground yards per game) and that’s dicey when going up against the Browns’ one-two punch of RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, both of whom should play despite the injury list status.
Note Arizona QB Kyler Murray (shoulder) and do-it-all WR DeAndre Hopkins (possibly Covid) are not exactly at full-strength for the Cards.
Maybe those 1972 Miami Dolphins will be popping the champagne corks come late Sunday afternoon … stay tuned.
Here’s a couple of spread-related ditties of interest heading into NFL Week 6 …
The Dallas Cowboys are the only team with a perfect pointspread mark at 5-0 thus far and just remember that last year’s ‘Boys started off that season with an eight-game ATS losing streak.
There aren’t any NFL squads that are winless versus the vig but both the Las Vegas Raiders – perhaps you’ve heard about them this week! –and the San Francisco 49ers enter Sunday’s action with NFL-worst three-game spread losing streaks. Might want to know that the Niners now are a collective 33-38-1 against the odds under fifth-year head coach Kyle Shanahan. Sure, injuries sapped last year’s squad that still finished 7-9 ATS but overall we’re not detecting “genius” from these numbers.
College Football Under-the-Radar Offensive Dynamos
There are some college football offensive juggernauts from small conferences that have been putting up some impressive stats. Western Kentucky is fifth in the nation in total yards while averaging 40.4 points per game behind senior QB Bailey Zappe (21 TDs, 3 INTs). So why are they on a four-game losing streak? The defense is terrible (42.8 ppg allowed) failing to keep pace with an offense that runs an Air Raid style leading the country with 457.8 passing yards per contest. All five over their games have flown OVER the total, coming off a 52-46 loss to Texas-San Antonio as a favorite. It’s tough to back a team as chalk with this bad a defense, but totals players haven’t had to sweat much with every game a shootout. That was the third time this season undefeated (6-0 SU, 4-1 ATS) Texas-San Antonio has been a dog, also topping Illinois (37-30) and Memphis (31-28), both on the road. Fresno State (39 ppg) is seventh in the nation in total yards behind QB Jake Haener (18 TDs, 6 INTs). They lost 31-24 to Oregon as a +19 dog and upset UCLA, 40-37, as a double-digit dog. \
The Bulldogs are in bounce-back mode after a 27-24 loss to Hawaii as Haener was picked off at the goal line with 9 seconds left. It was his fourth interception of the game, including three times inside Hawaii’s 10-yard line. Marshall is just 3-3 on the season but averaging over 515 yards despite its quarterbacks throwing more picks (10) than TDs (9). Marshall has been a double-digit favorite three times and failed to cover all three, including two straight-up defeats to East Carolina (42-38) and Middle Tennessee State (34-28). And they’re double-digit chalk again this Saturday at North Texas. Undefeated SMU (4-2 ATS) is averaging over 510 total yards and 40.7 points behind QB Tanner Mordecai (26 TDs, 7 INTs), leading all FBS QBs in touchdowns. Mordecai is a former Oklahoma backup quarterback recruited by Lincoln Riley for his run-and-gun Sooner attack. Arkansas State is in the Top 10 in passing yards per game (356.7) with QBs James Blackman and Layne Hatcher combining for 17 TDs, 7 INTs. However, they’ve lost five in a row (1-4 ATS) because the defense is the worst in the country surrendering 51.8 points per game. They just lost to Coastal Carolina giving up 685 yards, including a 99-yard TD pass. Arkansas State is on a bye this weekend giving the coaches extra time to look at defensive breakdowns. And they have a LOT of film on that!
Bucs/Eagles (Thursday): Tampa Bay runs twice as much as its throws using the run to set up the pass for QB Tom Brady (15 TDs, 2 INTs). The defense is No. 1 against the run for the third straight season allowing 45.8 yards, though the pass defense is last surrendering 314.4 yards in the air per contest. The Bucs are 22-6 OVER the total against the NFC, 21-7 OVER versus losing teams. That run defense will be tested against mobile Philadelphia QB Jalen Hurts (7 TDs, 3 INTs), who leads the Eagles in rushing (256 yards, 6.0 ypc). Philly is No. 3 defensively against the pass, but has allowed 41 and 42 points to the two best QBs they’ve faced in losses to Dallas and Kansas City. After failing to cover two out of three games, the Eagles are 42-23 ATS when playing at home.
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NFL Totals: How Low Can You Go? The New York Giants/Rams total has moved down. That’s because the Giants’ offense is a MASH unit with QB Daniel Jones (concussion), RB Saquon Barkley (ankle injury), and WR Kenny Golladay (knee) all ailing. Jones is not only the leading passer but their leading rusher. It’s not yet known if Jones will be cleared to play, so backup QB Mike Glennon (1 TD, 2 INTs) is running the practice offense. NFL home teams like the Giants with a losing record are 31-9 UNDER the total off a loss by 21+ points to a division rival. Meanwhile, the Rams are 24-9-1 versus the NFC, 21-7 UNDER as chalk…The Vikings/Panthers total has also moved down. The Vikings offense has tallied just 26 points the last two games, while Carolina has lost two straight after that 3-0 start. Two of those wins were against the Jets and Texans and QB Sam Darnold has 3 TDs, 5 interceptions the last two games. Carolina is 58-37 UNDER the total at home in the first half of the season…The Bengals/Lions total has dipped. Cincinnati’s offense and defense have both been very good riding a 4-0 run UNDER the total, 10-3 ATS after a loss. The Lions have gone three straight games UNDER with a poor offense, #24 in points (19.2 pg), #30 on third down (32.14%) behind new QB Jared Goff (7 TDs, 3 INTs). Detroit’s defense has been weak, as well, #24 in points allowed (27.6 pg), though ranked second on third down (30.61%). The Lions are 41-23 OVER the total after four or more straight defeats.
#11 Kentucky/#1 Georgia: Who had this circled on their calendar in August as a Top 15 showdown? Kentucky (21-11 run UNDER the total) was 5-6 last year, though they lost to Georgia just 14-3. Now they’re unbeaten but getting no respect as a huge underdog. That’s because the Wildcats squeezed by Missouri (35-28), South Carolina (16-10), and Chattanooga (28-23). They looked great last week, which worked out well as I backed them as a 2-point favorite in a 42-21 rout of stumbling LSU. Kentucky is 19-6-1 ATS against winning teams, 21-9 UNDER the total in SEC tilts. Georgia’s backup QB Stetson Bennett (8 TDs, 2 INTs) has started the past two games for injured J.T. Daniels (5 TDs, 2 INTs). Both are very good, while the Bulldog defense is a sensational, tops in the nation in yards allowed (201.2 pg) and scoring (5.5 ppg) giving up only three touchdowns. Georgia is 8-21 ATS at home when facing a team with a winning percentage of 75% or better.
#12 Oklahoma State/#25 Texas: There are three Big 12 teams in the Top 25 and two clash here. And they couldn’t be more different. Oklahoma State is winning with defense, #20 in the country allowing 19.2 points per contest. It’s a run-oriented offense with QB Spencer Sanders (5 TDs, 4 INTS) and RB Jaylen Warren (512 yards, 4.5 ypc). Oklahoma State is 15-5 ATS versus winning teams, 19-7 ATS as an underdog, 23-8 UNDER the total as a road dog. Texas has a terrific offense led by QB Casey Thompson (14 TDs, 3 INTs) and RB Bijan Robinson (789 yards, 6.3 ypc), but defense and depth are major concerns. They got run over by Arkansas (40-21 loss as a 6-point favorite) in Week 2 and come off a 55-48 defeat to Oklahoma giving up over 302 yards rushing AND passing! I had that game OVER, covering by 37 points. They’re down three starters in guard Denzel Okafor, DE Jacoby Jones, and second-leading WR Jordan Whitting. When these rivals clash the road team is 11-3 ATS and the UNDER is 7-0-1 at Texas.
NFL Cardinals at Browns (Sunday): A pair of dynamite QBs lead two of the Top 6 offenses in the NFL. Arizona QB Kyler Murray (10 TDs, 4 INTs) leads the only undefeated team. They are the only team to beat the Rams and it wasn’t even a close, a 37-20 whipping at Los Angeles as an underdog. The Cardinals are 10-3-2 ATS as a road dog, along with a 10-1 run UNDER the total away from home. They’re a dog again to a Cleveland squad that has great balance on offense (187.6 yards rushing per game) behind QB Baker Mayfield (4 TDs, 2 INTs) and RBs Nick Chubb (523 yards, 5.8 ypc) and Kareem Hunt (295 yards, 5.4 ypc). It’s the uneven defense that is the concern, giving up 33 to the Chiefs and last week’s 47-42 loss to the Chargers. Cleveland has six covered straight non-conference games, plus is 34-13 UNDER the total as a home favorite of 3 points or less.
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HERE’S THE MIDWEEK UPDATE:
GETTING BEYOND THE UGLY
POINTSPREAD NUMBERS WITH THE KC CHIEFS …
COLLEGE FOOTBALL GOODIES –
WE’RE HALFWAY THRU THIS ’21 SEASONAND (STILL) NOBODY’S TALKIN’ ABOUT
THE REAL “BARGAINS” OUT THERE
Here’s a burning question that we pose to the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs … and to those of you folks that like wagering on them:
Is this so-called “post-Super Bowl hangover” gonna last all year long?
Geez, the Chiefs exited last Sunday Night’s never-really-in-doubt 38-20 home loss to the 2.5-point underdog Buffalo Bills with a sad-sack 1-4 ATS (against the spread) record so far in this 2021 NFL campaign and the up-to-the-minute Las Vegas prices has ‘em laying nearly a full TD in this Sunday’s road bash at the Washington Football Team.
Okay, so maybe this pointspread mess with the Chiefs isn’t merely “hangover” stuff – after all, Andy Reid’s team finished off the 2020 season on an infamous 1-9-1 ATS skid and so add ‘em up and KayCee enters Week 6 play an ugly 2-13-1 versus Mr. Vig (folks, that’s a putrid .133 winning rate against the numbers) since the middle of last year and handicappers ‘round the land are left to wonder if this slide is gonna keep on keepin’ on … or will the Chiefs get their act together (and that means you too QB Patrick Mahomes who threw for a pedestrian 272 yards against the Bills)?
Keep in mind the Chiefs are 2-11-1 against the odds as betting favorites since mid-2020 and they are just 2-9-1 ATS when playing non-AFC West opponents. Check out the sked and you’ll see KC’s next four games are all against non-divisional foes (see at WFT, at Tennessee, New York Giants and Green Bay).
To put a wrap on the negative numbers: The Chiefs are 1-8 spreadwise as hosts during this 16-game span and they’re 1-5-1 ATS away and, yes, that includes last year’s embarrassing 31-9 loss in Super Bowl 55 against host Tampa Bay.
Okay, so Mahomes – who sports a QB Rating of 106.1 with 16 TDs passing and 6 INTs – is hardly the problem when you review this last season-plus but, then again, what did everyone expect with a completely retooled offensive line and a defensive front that has hardly been “super” so far in 2021.
Folks, just to prove we’re not “picking” on these Chiefs, note the following:
The embattled New York Giants and New York Jets are a combined 3-7 against the odds this year and did you realize these New York-area teams are each 19-50 SU (straight-up) since the start of the 2017 campaign … egads.
And you can count the aforementioned KC Chiefs, the just-mentioned J-E-T-S, San Francisco and Washington as the four teams league-wide with just one spread win apiece.
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Hey, let’s switch over to those college kids who are offering up another great group of games this mid-October weekend – how does it sound to be #1, Georgia Bulldogs! – but let’s keep our attention here focused on three clubs that have proven to be real “bargains” at the midway point:
IOWA – Wait a moment, how can the nation’s #2-ranked team be a “bargain”? Well, consider Kirk Ferentz’s squad enters this Saturday’s game at 11.5-point road underdog Purdue sporting a delicious 5-1 ATS mark that includes the early-season outright upset win at 4-point favorite Iowa State (that does seem like a long time ago, right?) and last weekend’s riveting 23-20 come-from-behind home win against 2.5-point pup Penn State.
Sure, Iowa received a major boost when Nittany Lions’ QB Sean Clifford went down with a first-half injury and never did return to the field but the Hawkeyes were “underpriced” as 3.5- and 3-point betting favorites in blowout wins against Indiana and Maryland (by 28 and 37 points, respectively) and still may be lacking super-power respect from oddsmakers. P.S., Iowa QB Spencer Petras has thrown only two picks this year; conversely, the ‘Eye defense already has snagged 16 interceptions.
LIBERTY – We know you’ll cut us a break, but wouldn’t it be great if folks wagered the “old-fashioned” way and called their man: “Gimme Liberty … “ is truly classic material. Agree?
Okay, but let’s get serious here with the here-and-now Flames who have rock-n-rolled their way to a 5-1 ATS mark thus far but we’re warning you that Hugh Freeze’s crew is a bloated 32-point road fav this weekend at lowly UL-Monroe. In any event, Liberty’s 3-and-oh spreadwise as betting favorites of 20-or-more points but we’re giving you a heads-up that this Independent squad could be “live” in an early November game at Ole Miss. Got it?
SYRACUSE – Did you know that Liberty’s one-and-only pointspread loss this year came against this Orange bunch? In short, the ‘Cuse has been piling up the “W’s” vig-wise while going 5-1 ATS overall (and just 3-3 straight-up) and Dino Baber’s club has indeed been “bargains” with dog covers against the likes of Ohio, Liberty, Florida State and Wake Forest.
Maybe the fact that Syracuse – a two-TD underdog for Friday’s home ACC tilt against Clemson – sports a better-than-you-think ground game that ranks 23rd nationally (we’re watching you, RB Sean Tucker and your 791 yards rushing with a 5.9 yards-per-tote average) has been an underrated advantage that this upstate New York team boasts in most games. Therefore, a good dog more often than not.
“The Sooners needed all of their 662 yards (323 passing, 339 rushing) having to come back from a 28-7 first-quarter deficit. The Sooners are 4-2 OVER the total (a no-sweat winner I had with the Sooners/Longhorns OVER)…”
Ram Tough: Preseason means nothing. The Rams lost all three preseason games, then stormed out of the gate at 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS. They whipped defending champion Tampa Bay, 34-24, and come off a 26-17 win at Seattle (another prime time Thursday night cover for myself and my clients along with a Sunday Night Game of the Month on the Bills, 38-20).
College Football Close Shaves, MLB Playoff Betting
As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat chalk!” Texas A&M knocked off No. 1 Alabama in a thriller, 41-38. It happened to be Aggie coach Jimbo Fisher’s birthday and while he was eating birthday cake bettors were eating chalk pushing ‘Bama from a 16-point favorite to -18 and -19. Bettors padded parlay tickets with ‘Bama on the MoneyLine at -1000 figuring it was a sure thing, but you can’t get rich with big favorites. Texas A&M at +700 ended up cashing as the college football Top 10 got turned upside down. A lot was made about A&M not being ranked, but before the season started the Aggies were in the Top 10 after going 9-1 last year. Money moved Nebraska from +3.5 to +2.5 around the key number of 3 and it made all the difference in the wagering world as Michigan pulled out a 32-29 win and cover…depending on what number you got. Line-shopping was important in the Penn State/Iowa showdown, too, with the Hawkeyes anywhere from -2 to -3. Iowa outscored Penn State 10-0 in the fourth quarter for a 23-20 win, cover, or push! With Alabama’s 19-game winning streak now gone, Iowa has won 12 in a row. Underdog Arkansas covered in a wild 52-21 loss to Ole Miss, but the defense is suddenly a major concern. After losing 37-0 to Georgia surrendering 273 yards rushing, Ole Miss gouged them for 324 rushing yards (6.6 ypc). The Razorbacks lost despite 326 yards passing, 350 yards rushing on offense. How much better offensive balance can you have and still lose? The Ole Miss defense ‘D’ didn’t show up until the final play, pressuring Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson on a 2-point conversion pass that failed. It took a while for Oklahoma’s point-a-minute offense to get going but it’s clicking in October after beating Kansas State 37-31 and Saturday’s 55-48 thriller with Texas. The Sooners needed all of their 662 yards (323 passing, 339 rushing) having to come back from a 28-7 first-quarter deficit. The Sooners are 4-2 OVER the total (a no-sweat winner I had with the Sooners/Longhorns OVER). If you want to bet their remaining games OVER you may want to do it early in the week to get the best number. Especially with games coming up against Kansas (43.8 ppg allowed), Texas Tech (34.3 ppg allowed), and TCU (28 ppg given up).
Ram Tough: Preseason means nothing. The Rams lost all three preseason games, then stormed out of the gate at 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS. They whipped defending champion Tampa Bay, 34-24, and come off a 26-17 win at Seattle (another prime time Thursday night cover for myself and my clients along with a Sunday Night Game of the Month on the Bills, 38-20). The Los Angeles defense turned a corner holding Seattle to 3.7 yards per carry forcing 2 turnovers. And the offense rolled up 476 yards, clearly comfortable with new QB Matt Stafford (12 TDs, 3 INTs). They’re also 4-1 OVER the total with an offense that is Top 6 in the league in yards, passing yards, and points (28.2 pg). With games against the Giants, Lions, and Texans coming up, Los Angeles is likely to be 7-1 at the halfway mark thumping its chest as the team to beat in the NFC.
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Big NFL Line Move Losers: Interesting that the two big-money moves in the NFL were on the home underdog Jaguars and the road favorite Patriots. Jacksonville made significant strides the previous week losing 24-21 to Cincinnati as a +7.5 dog. They had extra days to prepare and went from +7 to +4 at home to the Titans but got blasted anyway, 37-19. I pointed out last week that 2-2 Tennessee would be fine after ironing out a few early weak areas. The offensive line allowed 3 more sacks to the Jaguars, but the ground game was outstanding again with 184 yards, 130 by Derrick Henry, his fourth straight 100+ game. Underdog bettors were counting on Urban Meyer’s ground attack to control the ball and the clock…and they did, rushing for 198 yards, 6.4 ypc. But they lost the turnover battle 2-0 and lack the offensive weapons with a rookie QB to overcome a 24-13 halftime deficit. The Patriots moved from -6.5 to -9 but were fortunate to even win, 25-22, with a fourth-quarter comeback. What bettors didn’t expect was the Patriots to be so sloppy in the first half, fumbling away a TD at the goal line, losing the TO battle 2-1, and allowing Houston QB David Mills to throw for 290 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs. One other factor is that Bill Belichick is now 23-6 against rookie QBs. Belichick got the ‘W’, but the team never came close to covering…Minnesota was a big home favorite bet up to -10 but squeaked by winless Detroit, 19-17, on a 54-yard field goal as time expired. The Lions still looked inept with 2 turnovers, 288 total yards, 3-of-11 on third down. Anyone out there bet the Vikings on the money-line at minus-450? If you did, that’s winning $22.50 the hard way.
NFC Betting Notes: In the Eagles/Saints matchup, who has the better QB: Jalen Hurts or Sam Darnold? Philadelphia went from a +4 dog to +2.5 and got the money in a 21-18 victory. Neither team did much offensively, but in the all-important QB battle Hurts ran for 2 TDs while Darnold threw 3 interceptions…Tampa Bay was an 11-point favorite over Miami and rolled, 45-17. Some might not have noticed that it was 24-17 in the fourth quarter. QB Tom Brady threw for 400+ yards with five TDs (no picks) in the same game for the first time in his 22-year career. It’s worth repeating: In the 2001 NFL draft, QBs Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger, and Spergon Wynn were all drafted ahead of Brady. Those six threw 179 interceptions in their NFL careers, while Brady alone has thrown fewer (173) picks.
Baseball Playoff Wagering: The baseball playoff game that got a lot of highlights was Boston’s Game 2 comeback at Tampa Bay, a 14-6 home run slugfest. But for sharp-eyed bettors, what stood out was the number of low-scoring games. The Dodgers shut down the Cardinals, 3-1, then the Giants blanked those same Dodgers 4-0 in Game 1. The Brewers topped the Braves, 2-1, and the Rays and Giants threw shutouts in their Game 1s. This isn’t surprising, either, as managers go with their best arms in October with so much at stake. During the regular season, if a game is out of reach managers go with their worst bullpen arms to save the better relievers for the next game. That’s less so during the playoffs, all of which makes for more low-scoring games. The UNDERs started 6-3. Another factor that will come into play as the month goes along is the cooler weather, particularly for night games in northern parks such as Milwaukee, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. Colder weather makes it tougher on batters. So don’t be surprised if you keep seeing low-scoring tilts.
Colts at Ravens (Monday): Indianapolis ends a three-game road trek after winning at Miami, 27-17. This is a tough matchup for the Colts up front. Indy is down two offensive linemen, the O-line has struggled all year, and QB Carson Wentz (5 TDs, 1 INT) has been dinged up getting sacked 10 times in four games. The Colts are ranked #23 on third down, in the middle of the pack in total yards. The Ravens have played only one home game, topping Kansas City, 36-35, as an underdog. QB Lamar Jackson (4 TDs, 3 INTs) leads the third-best rushing attack while the defense has allowed 24 points the last two games. The Ravens are 20-36 ATS after a two-game trip. The Colts have covered 10 of the last 12 meetings with the Ravens, while the UNDER is 12-1.
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THE COLLEGE ROUND-BALL REPORT –
HERE’S THE MINI-TOURNIES THAT TIP OFF THURSDAY AFTERNOON / EVENING …
PLUS, THE TEAMS (WE SAY) THAT MUST WIN AT LEAST TWO CONFERENCE TOURNEY
GAMES TO LAND AN AT-LARGE BID IN THE NCAAs
You know the deal:
No matter what teams make the cut for the final at-large bids to next week’s NCAA Tournament there’s gonna be a slew of hoop squads that believe they got hosed.
Well, here’s a little memo to a couple of teams that we will list just below … win at least two games in your conference tournaments and (we say) you’ll have nothing to worry about come Selection Sunday:
CINCINNATI (20-10, 13-5 AAC) – Hey, these Bearcats have been on-and-off the proverbial bubble for the past few weeks but a couple of wins here in the American Athletic Conference Tournament (see our quick-hitter preview below in today’s Jim Sez) will land ‘em a “Big Dance” berth for sure. In laymen’s terms, if the ‘Cats get to the AAC Championship Game – win or lose there – they’re in. The 51 NET ain’t great but two wins against Wichita State, a win against league rival Houston and a 78-66 win against Tennessee helps the resume. FYI, One win in this mini-tourney and Cincy’s squarely on the bubble. Bettors beware as Cincy’s failed to cover seven of its last eight games.
SOUTH CAROLINA (18-13, 10-8 SEC) – Gotta say we haven’t seen the Gamecocks listed on many “mock” NCAA Tournament fields but do believe a pair of SEC Tourney wins gets ‘em in (maybe in one of the “First Four” games). The 67 NET works against Frank Martin’s squad as does the fact the Gamecocks are just 5-5 SU in their last 10 games but wins against the Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt survivor and another in the quarterfinals against LSU should do the trick. P.S., South Carolina is 11-6 ATS (against the spread) since Jan.11th.
Now hear this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep beating the books with more College Basketball and NBA winners all week/weekend long, so let’s cash in big here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Keep in mind when there’s day-time hoops, we’ll have our selections up for you bright and early!
Here’s more of this week’s College Basketball mini-tournies with the leagues that tip off play beginning Thursday …
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT – Thurs-thru-Sun
at Fort Worth, TX
The 22nd-ranked Houston Cougars have a sort of “home state” advantage here playing in the great state of Texas and Kelvin Sampson’s squad will try to do it with “D” here – they own the country’s 12th-best scoring defense (allowing 62.1 ppg). The general lack of pop from Tulsa and Wichita State likely means they’ll fall short of this title chase but UConn and Memphis plus points probably will be utilized here.
The Favorite: Houston
The Dark Horse: UConn
Pointspread Note: Houston’s an ugly 3-6 versus the vig since Feb.5th and the Coogs have failed to cover four consecutive away games
BIG WEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT – Thurs-thru-Sat
At Anaheim, CA
No fans allowed in the Honda Center because of the coronavirus mess …and only one tam from this conference will get an NCAA bid but even fav Cal-Irvine could be a #15 seed next week. Watch for G Evan Leonard of the UCI Anteaters … he must shoot it better than 40.5 from the field or else these guys could stumble spreadwise.
The Favorite: UC-Irvine
The Dark Horse: Hawaii
Pointspread Note: The league’s biggest money-burner is Cal-Fullerton (just 10-19 against the odds this year) while Cal-Davis (17-13 ATS) and Cal-Poly SLO (16-12) are the best bets and neither gets you all that excited
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT – Thurs-thru-Sat
At Las Vegas, NV
Be sure that New Mexico State should make minced meat of this mini-tourney field as the Aggies have bludgeoned next-best team Cal-Baptist by a grand total of 48 points in their two head-to-head meetings. New Mexico State’s the country’s fifth-ranked defense while yielding only 59.7 points a game.
The Favorite: New Mexico State
The Dark Horse: UT-Rio Grande Valley
Pointspread Note: Cal-Baptist’s 16-10 spread mark is the best in this WAC and note heavy-duty fav New Mexico State is just 13-16 vig-wise but riding a four-game spread winning streak these days
NOTE: We’ve got NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage all this week right here at Jim Sez so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the hoop winners at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com
Got it, thanks!Got it.I’m in.
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THIS JUST IN:
MINI-TOURNEY WEEK IS A BLAST!
HERE’S THE EIGHT CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS
THAT TIP OFF WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON / EVENING
Let’s keep the ole basketball bouncing – there’s conference tournaments all ‘round the land this week and here’s quick-hitter looks / previews of the Eight (8) so-called mini-tournies that will be tipping off Wednesday, March 11th:
And a reminder:
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep beating the books with College Basketball and NBA winners all week long, so let’s cash in big here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Keep in mind when there’s day-time hoops, we’ll have our selections up for you bright and early! Jim’s been banging out lots of winners lately and he promises this will be one of the great month-of-March runs he’s ever had!
Now, here’s more of this week’s College Basketball mini-tournies beginning with Wednesday afternoon /night action …
BIG SKY TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sat
At Boise, ID
There’s some hoop know-it-alls that believe top seed Eastern Washington – riding a seven-game SU (straight-up) winning streak right now – could be as high as an #11 seed in next week’s NCAA Tourney. One-two punch of G Jacob Davison (18.4 points per game) and F Mason Peatling (17.2 ppg) both can get heated up in a hurry.
The Favorite: Eastern Washington
The Dark Horse: Portland State
Pointspread Note: Biggest money-maker in the Big Sky? It’s Northern Colorado (19-9 ATS) while fav Eastern Washington’s covered four of its last five games
ATLANTIC-10 TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sun
At Brooklyn, NY
There’s only one real story here – the Dayton Flyers (29-2, 18-0 Atlantic-10 play) enter mini-tourney week ranked #3 in the land and very much capable of securing one of the NCAA Tournament numero uno seeds and plenty of eyeballs will be watching Player of the Year candidate F Obi Toppin (20 ppg / 7.5 rpg). Okay, so the prices will be hefty but our knee-jerk reaction is don’t make any anti-Dayton plays. Plus, Richmond and Rhode Island could be “overpriced” as so-called bubble teams.
The Favorite: Dayton
The Dark Horse: VCU
Pointspread Note: Dayton’s 19-12 against the odds but take note the Flyers are just 5-6 spreadwise since late January
PAC-12 TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sat
at Las Vegas, NV
Hey, depending on who you talk to the Pac-12 could have anywhere between five-to-seven teams in the NCAA Tourney … UCLA (NET 76) and Arizona State (NET 52) would be in if we were selecting a 68-team field but Thursday night losses could kayo ‘em both. Oregon’s the top choice to snag the mini-tourney crown but G Payton Pritchard (20.5 ppg / 5.5 apg) must get some help and Colorado (four losses in a row SU) and Stanford really need to hit the reset button.
The Favorite: Oregon
The Dark Horse: Arizona State
Pointspread Note: There’s three Pac-12 teams sharing the top spot among “best bets”: Oregon, USC and Stanford each is 19-12 against the Las Vegas price tags
BIG 10 TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sun
At Indianapolis, IN
There’s a feeling that Michigan State is just rounding into form these days as Sparty has won its last five games in a row but sometimes it feels like too much is placed on the shoulders of PG Cassius Winston (18.6 ppg and 5.9 assists per outing) and so we won’t be shocked if Tom Izzo’s squad falls short of the championship game: Red-hot Wisconsin (eight wins in a row SU) and Maryland (somewhere inside the AP top 10 just about all year long) both have the right puzzle pieces to make a run at the Big 10 crown.
The Favorite: Michigan State
The Dark Horse: Michigan
Pointspread Note: Maryland’s just 2-5-1 spreadwise in its last eight games; Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s 7-2-2 ATS since late January
BIG EAST TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sat
At New York City, NY
Folks may disagree but we believe this Big East is the best conference in the country with #1 seed Creighton, #2 Villanova and #3 Seton Hall all quite capable of cutting down the nets at this year’s Final Four … really. The ‘Nova Wildcats probably are the best of this trio in crunch-time situations but we could see one of those vintage scoring sprees by Hall G Myles Powell who has already been crowned Big East Player of the Year. P.S., we won’t be shocked if red-hot Providence (won six in a row SU) is a solid investment in this mini-tourney.
The Favorite: Villanova
The Dark Horse: Butler
Pointspread Note: Creighton’s 19-and-10 spread mark is the best among Big East teams but did you know that Seton Hall’s 4-8-1 ATS in its last baker’s dozen games?
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sat
At Kansas City, Mo
Here’s how we see the conference that’s pretty much held onto the top spot in the land the past two months (with either Kansas or Baylor): The Jayhawks could afford a semifinal or final round loss and still get a #1 seed in the NCAA’s but Baylor can only get back onto the #1 seed line with a mini-tourney win and some outside help. The proverbial bottom line is we expect a slew of white knucklers here and so – we’re warning you now – we’ll likely be interested when West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech are grabbing points this week.
The Favorite: Kansas
The Dark Horse: Texas Tech
Pointspread Note: Top seeds Kansas (19-12 ATS) and Baylor (18-12 ATS) have been the biggest buck-makers in this league while West Virginia’s 3-8-1 vig-wise in its last dozen tilts
SEC TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sun
At Nashville, TN
Here’s an interesting nugget: The Kentucky Wildcats have copped 31 SEC Tournaments (the last occurred in 2018 / note Auburn won last year) and all the other SEC teams have combined for 28 mini-tourney titles. Yowie! Now, John Calipari’s crew rambles into Music City red-hot versus the vig (see our Jim Sez Pointspread Note below) and G Immanuel Quickley (a 43 pct three-point shooter) could be guns-blazin’ though he will face some hearty defensive units.
The Favorite: Kentucky
The Dark Horse: Florida
Pointspread Note: Since Feb. 4th, Kentucky’s covered eight of its last 10 games including recent outright upset wins at Florida, at Texas A&M and at LSU
CONFERENCE USA TOURNAMENT – Wed-thru-Sat
At Frisco, TX
Good chance that the winner here gets no better than a #15 seed in next week’s NCAA Tourney – but any shot to gobble up points with Marshall, UAB and/or UTEP will be recommended. Top seed North Texas allows just 63.3 ppg and could put the late-game squeeze on any /all opposing 3-point shooters.
The Favorite: North Texas
The Dark Horse: UAB
Pointspread Note: Top seed North Texas is a “mean” 19-9 versus the vig but that includes three-of-four spread setbacks since mid-February
NOTE: We’ve got NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage all this week right here at Jim Sez and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the hoop winners at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com
THE COLLEGE B-BALL CONFERENCE TOURNIES
ARE FULL SPEED AHEAD – TODAY WE PREVIEW
THE MID-AMERICAN, ACC & METRO ATLANTIC
PLUS, WE FORECAST THE WHOLE NCAA TOURNAMENT
FIELD LESS THAN ONE WEEK BEFORE IT’S ANNOUNCED
Tell us the honest-to-goodness truth:
Aren’t you in the mood for some real-live March Madness?
Great, because between right now (Monday, March 9th) and this coming Sunday (that’s March 15th) – a/k/a Selection Sunday – there are a whopping total of 171 on-the-board College Basketball Conference Tournament games on tap and they include everything from the ACC to the Big 12 to the Western Athletic Conference … and everything else in between.
Hey, there’s gonna be a whole of movin’ and shakin’ when it comes to next week’s NCAA Tournament bids based on these aforementioned 171 games and we’ve already had a dose of that this past weekend when 4th-seed Bradley copped the Missouri Valley Conference (and covered two-of-three mini tourney games along the way) and hats off to Utah State for shocking the hoops world with a Mountain West Conference Championship Game upset win against 5-point fav San Diego last Saturday, thus likely KO’ing SDSU from an all-important No.1 seed in next week’s NCAA’s.
In laymen’s terms, it’s a case of massive mayhem on the hard courts of America and there’s plenty on tap all this week as we work our way towards Selection Sunday where even a couple of projected #1 seeds are far from a veritable slam dunk – right Baylor and Dayton?
So, without further ado we’ll continue to examine /analyze this week’s mini-tournies as we check out all the leagues – both big and small – that are on-the-Las Vegas-board items.
But first this key reminder that Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep beating the books with more College Basketball and NBA winners, so let’s cash in big all this week right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Keep in mind when there’s day-time hoops, we’ll have our selections bright and early! Hey, we’ve been hot-hot-hot lately, so make sure you’re all aboard for a bust-out March!
In College Basketball action beginning today and tomorrow, it’s …
MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT – Mon. (four home games), Thurs-thru-Sat
at Cleveland, OH
The Mid-American Conference folks can stop dreaming: This – as usual – is gonna be a one-bid league and something tells us it will be a wild scramble come the semis and finals with Akron, Bowling Green and Ball State in the major hunt for the crown. Watch for Northern Illinois G Eugene German whose 20.5 ppg average leads the league.
The Favorite: Akron
The Dark Horse: Northern Illinois
Pointspread Note: Akron may be the top seed here in the MAC but the Zips have failed to cover five of their last six outings heading into Thursday’s tilt
ACC TOURNAMENT – Tues-thru-Sat
At Greensboro, NC
Talk about taking the long way home! Here’s Virginia (a #2 seed here) listed as our Jim Sez “favorite” to win this ACC Tournament and a month ago the Cavaliers were thinking they’d have to play in the first round of mini-tourney action (that’s being a double-digit seed). Dick Bennett’s club is riding a real wave but defensive-minded Florida State and always-tough Duke could be cuttin’ down the nets this weekend if they are able to hit their fair share of threes. It could be time to worry about Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and / or Notre Dame board-banger John Mooney (league-best 12.8 rebs per game). Gut feeling is the dogs will beat out the chalk sides in the final won / loss column.
The Favorite: Virginia
The Dark Horse: Notre Dame
Pointspread Note: Here’s an oddity: The league’s top spread side – Georgia Tech (19-11 against the spread) won’t even partake in this mini-tourney as it serves an NCAA sentence but note defending national champ Virginia rides a dandy 5-1-1 ATS mark into this mini-tourney
METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT – Tues-thru-Sun
at Atlantic City, NJ
Siena charges into this tourney riding a nine-game SU (straight-up) winning streak with three starters averaging between 13.6 and 15.3 ppg but maybe you think Saint Peter’s is gonna win after nabbing 7-of-8 SU wins down the stretch.
The Favorite: Siena
The Dark Horse: Monmouth
Pointspread Note: Hate to accentuate the negative but Iona is 9-16 ATS and rival Manhattan is 12-17 versus the vig
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT
Let’s go ahead and expand our weekly NCAA Tournament look even more now … we’re getting you our entire 68-team projected field and take note we have the “First Four” games to be played in Dayton (March 17 & 18) too:
(1) Dayton vs (16) N.C. Central / Colgate
(2) Kentucky vs (15) Robert Morris
(3) Seton Hall vs (14) Winthrop
(4) Michigan State vs (13) Hofstra
(5) Penn State vs (12) Rhode Island
(6) LSU vs (11) Liberty
(7) Utah State vs (10) Texas
(8) UCLA vs (9) West Virginia
(1) Kansas vs (16) New Mexico State
(2) Duke vs (15) Yale
(3) Creighton vs (14) Vermont
(4) Virginia vs (13) Wright State
(5) Butler vs (12) Belmont
(6) Illinois vs (11) Cincinnati / N.C. State
(7) Providence vs. (10) Rutgers
(8) Arizona vs (9) Miss State
(1) San Diego State vs (16) Prairie View / Siena
(2) Baylor vs. (15) Little Rock
(3) Florida State vs (14) North Texas
(4) Villanova vs (13) Akron
(5) Auburn vs (12) East Tennessee State
(6) Houston vs (11) Northern Iowa
(7) Oklahoma vs (10) Saint Mary’s
(8) Arizona State vs (9) Wisconsin
(1) Gonzaga vs (16) North Dakota State
(2) San Diego State vs (15) Eastern Washington
(3) Maryland vs (14) UC-Irvine
(4) Oregon vs (13) Stephen F. Austin
(5) BYU vs (12) Tulsa / Richmond
(6) Florida vs (11) Bradley
(7) Ohio State vs (10) USC
(8) Iowa vs (9) Texas Tech
Last Four In – Cincinnati, Tulsa, N.C. State, Richmond
NOTE: We’ve got NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage later this week right here at Jim Sez — so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the winners at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT PRIMER
WE’RE JUST ONE WEEK OUT FROM
SELECTION SUNDAY AND SO
THERE’S A LOT TO COVER HERE
IN TODAY’S JIM SEZ!
As the late, great Tom Petty used to sing, “Waiting is the hardest part”. He sure got that right!
No doubt most of you faithful Jim Sez readers – and Jim Hurley clients – have been champing at the proverbial bit to get to Selection Sunday and it’s now just a week away … it’s tick, tick, tick towards March 15th.
There’s a batch of College Basketball teams out there still unsure if they are gonna be part of the 68-team field.
Our up-to-the-minute “bubble teams” includes (at least) the following squads …
Cincinnati, Indiana, Marquette, N.C. State, Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Richmond, South Carolina, Tulsa and Xavier.
Gotta believe that each of these teams needs to win at least one upcoming mini-tourney game to stay in the hunt for those final “Big Dance” at-large bids and, some, of course, may have to do even more.
And while the sport’s heavy-hitters – see Kansas and San Diego State and Dayton, among many others – know they’ll be landing on the #1, #2 or (at worst) #3 seed lines in NCAA Tournament play, they really can only venture an educated guess as to where they’ll be headed for first- and second-round action.
Here’s some thoughts based on geography and, oh yes, putting “fannies” in the seats as we list first-week/weekend sites and some of the high-profile / elite teams that figure to be playing there:
On Thursday, March 19th …
SITE LIKELY TEAMS PLAYING THERE
Albany Seton Hall, Villanova
Tampa Florida State, Kentucky
St. Louis Louisville, Northern Iowa
Spokane Gonzaga, Oregon
On Friday, March 20th …
SITE LIKELY TEAMS PLAYING THERE
Greensboro Duke, Virginia
Cleveland Dayton, Michigan State, Ohio State
Omaha Kansas, Baylor
Sacramento San Diego State, UCLA
Remember that these teams will be priced a bit higher than they would have been on a true neutral court … it’s a fact, so we’ll keep that in mind when ‘capping their early-round tourney games.
And know hear this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep beating the Las Vegas and offshore books with more College Basketball and NBA winners this month of March. So, let’s cash in big all this weekend right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Just keep rollin’ in the profits with Jim Hurley – America’s #1 Handicapper – as this week alone we’ve cashed in big with: Valparaiso (+ 5.5) over Loyola-Chicago 74-73 in overtime in Friday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament game; the Los Angeles Clippers (Pick ’Em) over the Houston Rockets 120-105 on Thursday night in NBA play; Villanova (+ 3.5) over Seton Hall 79-77 on Wednesday night; the Minnesota Timberwolves (+ 11) in outright upset fashion over Zion Williamson and New Orleans 139-134 in NBA play this past Tuesday; and we started off the week with a bang as we went “over” 153 points in Duke’s 88-69 win against N.C. State. Cha-ching!
In other Selection Sunday-related News & Notes …
There’s lots of folks talking about seeding but keep in mind – for the most part – there’s a sliding scale of sorts when the NCAA Tournament folks are deciding who to put on the #6-thru-#9 seed lines. The NCAA Tournament would rather not seek head-to-head conference matchups in the Saturday / Sunday games the first weekend so there’s the chance that, let’s say, Iowa would get a #7 seed and play a #10 seed in Stanford instead of putting Iowa on the #8 seed line and having ‘em play a #9 seed in Rutgers. Got it? …
Also, the tourney folks would like to “spread out” same-conference teams: In a perfect world, for example, let’s say there are seven SEC teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The committee folks would like two SEC teams each in the East, two in the South, two in the Midwest and one SEC team out West. One handicapping note: Don’t just assume that, say, a couple of SEC teams don’t cover on the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament that the SEC teams will be “bad bets” on the first Friday of the “Big Dance”. Don’t judge a conference’s strength / weakness after one day of NCAA Tourney play …
Finally, anyone that’s been with us over the years here at Jim Sez knows there are certain specific “handicapping guides” we tend to go with in the first-round games:
Go against any power conference team – that’s ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — that had to win four games in four days to win its mini-tournament; they rarely have their legs for this first NCAA Tourney game. Even three mini-tourney wins in three straight days makes ‘em “iffy” in Round I of the big tournament.
Next, take any power conference team plus points that’s coming off an early-round mini-tourney loss; they have a “something-to-prove” attitude with a real focus;
And, lastly, check out the recent pointspread results: If we can grab a team — power conference or not – that rolls into the NCAA Tournament on a five-, six- or seven-game pointspread winning streak (or 6-of-7 spread covers, etc.) then we’ll give ‘em strong consideration.
NOTE: We’ve got NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage all this weekend right here with these jam-packed Jim Sez columns — so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the winners at 1-800-323-4453 or online at www.jimhurley.com
Jim Hurley Professional Handicapper
THE COLLEGE HOOPS REPORT
THREE WAYS TO HANDICAP / “ATTACK” THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS …
PLUS, OUR SATURDAY “SIX-PACK” OF KEY B-BALL GAMES ‘ROUND THE LAND FEATURING CAROLINA VS. DUKE PART II
Oh, it’s “Madness” alright when you’re handicapping all these College Basketball Conference Tournament (see mini-tournies) but we’re gonna set aside a few moments here to explain some of our Jim Sez wagering strategies when it comes to these games / tournaments … come along for the ride for Three (3) Rules of Play, if you will!
No. 1 … Look at these conference tournaments as an opportunity for certain teams to hit the “reset button”: Much like the college football bowl games, these mini-tournies serve as a “new season” where teams can right themselves and maybe play with a real chip on their shoulders. Don’t necessarily assume all the #1 and #2 seeds in these conference tournaments are gonna dominate play, as there’s some good teams out there with a something-to-prove attitude. Off the top of our head, we’re thinking UConn in the American Athletic, Notre Dame in the ACC and Arizona in the Pac-12. Hey, don’t be shocked if these three teams are major money-makers in mini-tourney action. There’s a “freebie” for you all!
No. 2 … Go ahead and “ride” a team that wins you an opening-round mini-tourney game: Folks, gotta admit that this has been a pretty successful formula in recent years as Jim Hurley’s grabbed a Round I side (normally an underdog or a near pick ‘em game) and then played ‘em as long as they stayed alive in these conference tournaments. Momentum is a funny thing and sometimes an above-average-to-good team catches fire at this time of the season and just cashes play-after-play. We can’t “give away the store” here and suggest any actual plays but teams with good talent and a great coach have a way of storming into mini-tourney title games while cashing two, three or even four games along the way. Ride the hot hand.
No. 3 … Go against betting favorites that feel real pressure to win a game or two in these mini tournies: You know the old adage as Las Vegas prices tend to rise the more a team “needs to win” and we’ve made a bundle of greenbacks over the years going against “bubble teams” that hear the noise that they need to win “a couple of games” to get into the NCAA Tournament. It’s often simply just too much pressure to cash in these so-called must-win games. Just because a team faces a “must win” game doesn’t mean they must cover.
Now, hear this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers / Bloggers will keep beating the Las Vegas and offshore books with more College Basketball and NBA winners each and every day and so let’s cash in big all this week right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
On Saturday, it’s …
#1 KANSAS (27-3, 16-1) at TEXAS TECH (18-12, 9-8) – 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you’re keeping track, the Kansas Jayhawks have won or shared the Big 12 regular-season crown in 15 of the last 16 seasons and Bill Self’s crew will nail down the outright title here with a road win in Lubbock (or a Baylor loss at West Virginia). Kansas center Udoka Azubuike scored 31 points against TCU on Wednesday night but a sore ankle could limit his minutes here (he played 35 minutes in the 75-66 non-cover vs. TCU).
Spread Note – Kansas is 18-11 ATS (against the spread) and that includes six-of-seven covers since early February.
#4 BAYLOR (26-3, 15-2) at WEST VIRGINIA (20-10, 8-9) – 1 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Most prognosticators still believe the Baylor Bears can snag a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tourney – but a loss here or coming up shy of the championship game in next week’s Big 12 Tournament likely will doom those hopes and so this is a biggie for Scott Drew’s team: Keep in mind Baylor sports the sixth-best defense in Division 1 (allowing just 59.6 ppg) while West Virginia hunkers down with the country’s 17th-best defense (yielding 62.4 ppg).
Spread Note – Baylor’s also 18-11 versus the vig this 2019-2020 hoops season but did you know the Bears are a rock-solid 11-6 spreadwise when playing against fellow Big 12 teams?
#6 KENTUCKY (24-6, 14-3) at FLORIDA (18-11, 10-6) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
We’ve seen where there are some folks that believe this Kentucky squad is operating “below the radar” but not sure that can ever happen for one of the sport’s true bluebloods. The ‘Cats do come off an 81-73 home loss against 8.5-point pup Tennessee this past Tuesday night and so UK coach John Calipari will be in a “rare mood” here after watching his guys blow a 17-point lead. Yikes!
Spread Note – Kentucky has covered seven of its last nine games but the ‘Cats are a modest 16-14 vig-wise this season
NORTH CAROLINA (13-17, 6-13) at #12 DUKE (24-6, 14-5) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so when is the last time the Tar Heels vs. Blue Devils matchup featured two teams outside the top 10? Good question but here there’s no question that Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke team needs a better start than last time these rivals clashed as the Dookies were forced to overcome a 13-point deficit with four-plus minutes remaining to snag a 98-96 overtime non-cover win at Chapel Hill.
Spread Note – Go figure as Duke / North Carolina are a combined 28-32 against the Las Vegas prices this season (note Duke’s just 15-15 ATS)
STANFORD (20-10, 9-8) at #13 OREGON (23-7, 12-5) – 11 p.m. ET, Fox 1
There’s still a shot for the Oregon Ducks to pull the one-two okey-doke: Win (or share) the Pac-12 regular-season crown and then cop next week’s Pac-12 Tournament and that would likely get the Duckies a #2 seed … but first things first and that means G Payton Pritchard (20.2 ppg and 81 triples / 40.4 pct shooter from “3”) must dominate against a Stanford that comes off Thursday night’s 68-65 loss at 1.5-point fav Oregon State (the Cardinal shot just 3-of-15 from deep in that doozy).
Spread Note – Oregon’s a so-so 13-11 spreadwise when in the betting favorite’s role and that includes a 70-60 loss at two-point pup Stanford back on Feb. 1st.
UCLA (19-11, 12-5) at USC (21-9, 10-7) – 3:15 p.m. ET, CBS
So, what’s gotten into these UCLA Bruins? They’ve bagged seven consecutive SU wins and now Mick Cronin’s crew is in revenge mode against in-city rival USC (see Trojans 74-63 back on Jan. 12th as senior Nick Rakocevic was a stat-sheet stuffer with 17 points and 14 rebounds). Now, UCLA looks to get the season split here and we’ll be keeping a close eye on Tyger Campbell who drained a late-game tie-breaker jump shot to help beat Arizona last Saturday.
Spread Note – USC is a better-than-you-think 19-11 against the odds this year while UCLA’s 4-0-1 against the numbers since mid-February
NOTE: We’ve got NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage all this weekend right here with these jam-packed Jim Sez columns — so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the winners at 1-800-323-4453 or online at www.jimhurley.com”
Jim Hurley Professional Handicapper
NBA THURSDAY NITE PREVIEWS –
IT’S CLIPS-ROCKETS, RAPTORS-WARRIORS
ON THE TNT CENTER STAGE …
THE COLLEGE B-BALL UPDATE:
MORE MINI-TOURNEY QUICK HITTERS AHEAD
Truth is you only have to go back nine months or so to witness the Toronto Raptors beating the Golden State Warriors in six games in the 2019 NBA Finals … geez, doesn’t that now feel like it happened years ago?
It’s safe to say that this here-and-now G-State Warriors’ squad doesn’t at all resemble the team that captured three championships and played in five consecutive NBA Finals between 2015-19 – no more Kevin Durant (hello, Brooklyn), no rehabbing Stephen Curry and no still-injured Klay Thompson.
The stress and strain of playing all those extra post-season games the past five-plus seasons really wore out the Warriors – but don’t believe for a minute that the “window has closed” for Steve Kerr’s club: The Dubs could be a major menace in the 2020-21 campaign, really.
Still, this first Thursday night in March is reserved for the here-and-now happening teams as the TNT folks bring us an uber-captivating game in the opener – that’s the Los Angeles Clippers at the Houston Rockets — and that’s followed by an NBA Finals “rematch” (we know that’s stretching it!) between the defending champion Toronto Raptors at the new-and-not-so-improved GS Warriors.
Hey, there’s Side & Totals to be won here, so remember this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will keep beating the Las Vegas and offshore books with more College Basketball and NBA winners. So, let’s cash in big all this week right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Just keep rollin’ in the profits with Jim Hurley – America’s #1 Handicapper!
NBA ON TNT
Here’s what is on the NBA docket on this first Thursday in the merry month of March:
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (42-19) at HOUSTON (39-21) – 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Major NBA Western Conference hoedown here in Space City and remember the last time the Clippers travelled to “H-Town” they lost 102-93 way back on Nov. 13th. Now, Doc Rivers’ crew zooms into town sporting a five-game SU (straight-up) winning streak and looking to ride Kawhi Leonard / Lou Williams to the winner’s circle. P.S., Houston is fresh off back-to-back barnburners – the 111-110 overtime win in Boston last Saturday night (a Jim Hurley winner!) and then the 125-123 loss at New York on Monday. Neither James Harden nor Russell Westbrook could hit the clutch shots late in that latter affair at Madison Square Garden … will they make ‘em here?
Spread Notes – The LA Clippers have covered four of their last five games but note they’ve failed to cover all three of their head-to-head matchups with Houston this season. The Rockets, meanwhile, are 31-29 versus the vig this hoops season and that includes a solid 9-6 ATS run in home games since Dec. 28th.
TORONTO (43-18) at GOLDEN STATE (14-48) – 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Say this for the Toronto Raptors: They haven’t missed a beat this year while playing without above-mentioned Clipper Kawhi Leonard – heck, Nick Nurse’s squad sports six guys averaging 16 points-or-more per game with All-Star Pascal Siakam (23.7 ppg) leading the way but can the North-of-the-Border crew cover a hefty road price tag here? Note the last time Toronto was a big away fav it failed to cover the 9.5-point price in Cleveland … see Raptors 115, Cavaliers 109 back on Jan. 30th.
The Warriors – sitting in the NBA’s Western Conference basement this year – do come off Tuesday’s rather stunning 116-100 win in Denver where the Nuggets were 16.5-point betting favorites. Yow-ie!
Spread Notes – Toronto is a respectable 33-27-1 ATS this hoops season and note the Raptors are 10-6-1 spreadwise away since mid-December. On the flip side, Golden State’s 28-33-1 versus the vig – better than you thought, right? – but the Warriors have failed to cover six of their last nine games.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MORE MINI-TOURNEY GOODIES
Here’s more from this week’s College Basketball mini-tournies – there’s Southern Conference Tournament action that starts up Friday and Colonial Conference, the Summit League and Sun Belt Conference action that tips off Saturday …
SOUTHERN CONFERENCE – Fri-thru-Mon
At Asheville, NC
Most “bracketologists” have Southern Conference top seed East Tennessee State penciled in as a #10 or #11 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament – even if the Buccaneers don’t win this mini-tourney. Still, we’d advise ETSU not to take any chances and we’d be shocked if the Bucs fell short of at least getting into the championship game with the one-two punch of guards Tray Boyd III (13.6 ppg) and Bo Hodges (13.2 ppg) leading the way.
The Favorite: East Tennessee State
The Dark Horse: Chattanooga
Pointspread Note: The league’s best spread side is Chattanooga (19-10 ATS) and the worst is Samford (8-20)
COLONIAL CONFERENCE – Sat-thru-Tues
At Washington, DC
No doubt about it: Playing this Colonial Tournament in the D.C. / Virginia areas is a major advantage to the local schools …and a big disadvantage here to Long Island-based Hofstra, the league’s regular-season champ at 14-4 SU. So, notice we’ve installed William & Mary (13-5 SU in Colonial play) as “The Favorite” here.
The Favorite: William & Mary
The Dark Horse: Delaware
Pointspread Note: Hofstra’s scintillating 22-and-8 spread record is far-and-away the best in the Colonial Conference and note the Pride heads into this mini-tourney having covered nine of its last 10 games.
SUMMIT LEAGUE – Sat-thru-Tues
At Sioux Falls, SD
Could have flipped a coin as to whom the “favorite” is here as our choice – North Dakota State – sports a slew of quality three-point shooters that could make the difference in a potential title tilt against South Dakota State … NDSU’s G Vinnie Shahid has drilled 74 trifectas this year.
The Favorite: North Dakota State
The Dark Horse: Nebraska-Omaha
Pointspread Note: South Dakota State is a league-best 20-9 ATS this season and that features an 11-4 spread log since the start of January
SUN BELT CONFERENCE – Sat / Mon / Wed / Sat (Mar. 14) / Sun (Mar. 15)
There’s only gonna be one bid from this league when it comes to NCAA Tourney time and – we submit – that either #1 seed Little Rock or #2 seed South Alabama will be cutting down the nets in the end. A player-to-watch here? Set your orbs on Little Rock G Markquis Nowell who averages a team-high 17.2 ppg and shoots 40 percent from “3”.
The Favorite: Little Rock
The Dark Horse: Georgia Southern
Pointspread Note: Little Rock is 20-10 spreadwise and Arkansas State is 18-10 ATS … not bad investments at all this hoops season.
NOTE: We’ve got NBA and NCAA Basketball coverage all this week right here at Jim Sez – so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the winners at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com.
Jim Hurley Professional Sports Handicapper- NCAA TOURNAMENT
TOP 12 SEEDS IN EACH REGION
PLUS, WE CHUCK IN OUR
“LAST FOUR IN, FIRST FOUR OUT” …
MORE CONFERENCE MINI-TOURNEY PREVIEWS ON TAP …
THE NBA REPORT:
THE WORST SPREAD SIDES SINCE FEB. 1
The College Basketball Season’s heading into “crunch time” and – seemingly – nobody’s safe out there on the hardwood as Baylor, Florida State, Duke, Maryland and Creighton (yes, all top 10 teams while heading into play this past weekend) were picked off by a handful of big-game hunters and the above-mentioned Baylor Bears had to go deep into an overtime session to hold off (but not cover) 7-point underdog Texas Tech in Monday night’s wild 71-68 tilt.
Now, we’ll dig into the month of March and attempt to separate the “men from boys” but this is 2020 and, well, anything goes!
As we draw closer and closer to the aforementioned NCAA Tournament — see Selection Sunday Show on March 15th — we get you our up-to-the-minute “win-it-all” odds for this year’s tourney. See what you think (all prices below all based on $100 per play):
TEAM ODDS TO WIN 2020 NCAA TOURNAMENT
Kansas + 600
Gonzaga + 750
Dayton + 1000
Kentucky + 1000
Baylor + 1100
San Diego State + 1200
Duke + 1400
Louisville + 1600
Michigan State + 1600
Seton Hall + 1600
Florida State + 1800
Maryland + 1800
Oregon + 3300
Michigan + 3500
Penn State + 4000
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT
Let’s go ahead and – for a second straight week — expand our NCAA Tournament look even more now that we’re starting to dig into the month of March. Now, we’re getting you our top 12 seeds in each of the NCAA Tournament’s four geographical regions (and they are all subject to change, of course). Note we have the “First Four” games in a couple of cases with #11 seeds included in the East and Midwest Regions:
EAST – Kansas, Maryland, Seton Hall, Penn State, West Virginia, Butler, Florida, Marquette, Northern Iowa, UCLA, Utah State/Stanford and East Tennessee State
MIDWEST – Baylor, Duke, Dayton, Villanova, Iowa, Houston, Texas Tech, Arizona, LSU, Illinois, Rutgers/Richmond and Hofstra
SOUTH – San Diego State, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, Auburn, BYU, Michigan, USC, Virginia, Wichita State, Providence and Liberty
WEST – Gonzaga, Florida State, Michigan State, Creighton, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona State, Miss State, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, Stephen F. Austin and Akron
Last Four In – Utah State, Stanford, Rutgers and Richmond
First Four Out – Oklahoma, Arkansas, Notre Dame and Texas
Editor’s Note: Let’s be clear, here: We’ve handed both San Diego State and Gonzaga top seeds in their respective regions but a loss by either / both teams kayos ‘em from the top spot in which case things would become “fluid” with Duke having a No. 1 seed shot if it can win the ACC Tournament; ditto for Maryland if it can win the Big 10 mini-tourney and, to a lesser degree, to Kentucky should the ‘Cats win the SEC Tournament and at least two of the above-mentioned top seeds get beaten in the conference tournaments (especially if they were to get beaten prior to the conference championship game).
Finally, we could see the likes of Villanova – we’ve listed ‘em as the #4 seed in the Midwest for now – and Oregon (our #5 seed in the West) climb their way up the seed lines with conference tournament titles in the Big East and Pac-12, respectively. Both could go as high as #2 seeds with rampaging runs through their mini-tournies and with some other outside assistance. Got it?
Here’s more from this week’s College Basketball mini-tournies – there’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament action that swings into gear on Thursday night and West Coast Conference action that starts Friday night …
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE – Thurs-thru-Sat
At St. Louis, MO
Northern Iowa could wind up being a single-digit seed in the upcoming “Big Dance”— we have ‘em as a #9 seed right now and that could improve – as a resounding showing this week in “The Arch” could make folks sit up and really take notice. Guard AJ Green (team-best 19.7 ppg) could make himself one of March’s big hardwood heroes for NIU. P.S., Loyola-Chicago could make a mini-tourney run here if that nationally-ranked defense comes calling.
The Favorite: Northern Iowa
The Dark Horse: Indiana State
Pointspread Note: Heavyweight Northern Iowa sports the league’s best spread mark at 18-9 ATS (against the spread) but don’t sleep on Valpo (19-10 ATS) or even Missouri State (19-12 ATS)
WEST COAST CONFERENCE – Thurs-thru-Sat, Mon & Tues
At Las Vegas, NV
Could this finally be “the year” for the Gonzaga Bulldogs? There’s no question veteran head coach Mark Few has all the parts including six different double-digit scorers led by F Filip Petrusev (17.8 ppg) but the real key for the Zags in this mini-tourney is matching up with BYU’s three-point shooters and / or taking over the paint against an always-physical Saint Mary’s squad.
The Favorite: Gonzaga
The Dark Horse: San Francisco
Pointspread Note: BYU is an electric 11-5 against the odds since the start of the new year
THE NBA REPORT
Let’s examine just who have been the NBA’s Worst Spread Sides since Feb. 1 …
The Indiana Pacers are 5-7-1 ATS (against the spread) since Feb. 1st
The Miami Heat is 6-8 vig-wise since the first of February
The Minnesota Timberwolves have failed to cover nine of their last dozen games since 2-1-20
The Phoenix Suns are 3-10 against the odds the past month-plus
The San Antonio Spurs are 4-8 ATS since Feb. 1
The Utah Jazz is 4-7-1 versus the vig
NOTE: Game previews from the NBA and NCAA later this week, so don’t miss out plus remember to keep cashin’ at 1-800-323-4453. The Jim Hurley Network is really heatin’ up lately with Northwestern’s overtime winner at 2-point favorite Nebraska this past Sunday along with Saturday winners Oakland (+ 3) over Illinois-Chicago and UCLA (+ 2) over Arizona. Don’t let the end-of-year games pass you by – win now and every single night!
Jim Hurley Professional Sports Handicapper- NCAA TOURNAMENT