Alabama +8 at Auburn O/U 152 Recommendation: Alabama
Big loss for Auburn with rim protector Anfernee McLemore out for the season with an ankle injury. Already ultra-small, McLemore's (4th nationally in block pct.) allowed the Tigers' perimeter defenders to extend their pressure and take chances which is why the rank first in the SEC in forced turnover rate. "Resilience" has been a common theme of Auburn's remarkable season but this is a devastating loss.
"We lost arguably the guy who plays as big as anybody on the roster because he was such a great shot blocker," Pearl said. "So, we continue to have to play small ball, we continue to spread the floor, try to extend a little bit defensively."
Note that McLemore didn't have much of an impact in the first meeting. He played only 15 minutes, grabbed two rebounds, and failed to block a shot. Alabama shot 54% from 2-point range and won 76-71 despite Collin Sexton not playing. The Crimson Tide are square on the "bubble" and close to regular season with four tough games (at Auburn, vs. Arkansas, vs. Florida, at Texas A&M). Despite ranking first in the SEC in defensive efficiency, Alabama is only 8-6 in league play. Taking care of the basketball has been this team's biggest issue (19 turnovers in first meeting) and will likely determine the outcome of this evening's contest. Lot of angles to consider: rivalry, revenge, rally the troops after key injury. But in the end, the loss of such an impactful player should aid in Alabama sticking around in this one.
Colorado +100 at Vancouver O/U 6 Recommendation: Colorado
The Vancouver Canucks trounced a red hot Boston Bruins team by a score of 6-1 in their most recent game on Saturday night but the final score was misleading. Vancouver got out to an early lead but Boston fired away 45 shots on goal compared to just 23 shots for Vancouver but the Canucks were able to bury the majority of their quality scoring chances in the victory. They will be up against a Colorado Avalanche team that looked quite a bit disjointed in their 4-2 loss at home to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. That game featured a return to the lineup for the Avs leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon from a shoulder injury but it didn’t result in a win nor did it result in a sharp performance from the Avalanche. Colorado head coach Jared Bednar called out his team to play with more urgency after the loss to Edmonton as the Avalanche try to make a push for the playoffs: “We've got to dial our game up just like everybody else is this time of year, and we haven't done that yet recently. We should be getting more and more urgency out of our group now because we are starting to fall in the standings. If we want to stay in it, we are going to have to dial it up.” I look for Colorado to increase their level of intensity and urgency in this game tonight and would expect to be much better in all three zones tonight and MacKinnon getting a game under his belt should make him feel a lot more comfortable on the ice in this game. Colorado also recently got Semyon Varlamov back in the crease after he had been out due to injury and he’s played extremely well of late for the Avalanche turning aside 80 of the 83 shots he has faced in two starts since returning. Vancouver even after defeating Boston is still just 2-6 in their last 8 games and they are only 2-5 in their last 7 games following a victory. Colorado is still the better team here and in a ‘step up’ spot for the road team, I’ll back the Avalanche here at a near even money price.
With a two-game lead with four games remaining, it looks likely that Auburn will earn the SEC's top seed for the conference tournament as well as a no. 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But bettors should perhaps look to fade the Tigers the remainder of the regular season. Already playing one of the smallest lineups in college basketball, it was announced forward Anfernee McLemore will miss the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury. McLemore was one of the team's most important defenders as a rim protector (73 blocks) and rebounder (5.3 rpg). Down to eight scholarship players, Bruce Pearl made it clear that keeping everyone healthy for the postseason is paramount. The Tigers own one of the best ATS records in the country at 18-7. A key ingredient in that success has often been nothing more than out-hustling the competition. With McLemore out and a postseason berth a lock, we recommend looking to bet against this squad over the next two weeks.
“It’s a tough loss,” Pearl said. “Anfernee has had a wonderful season. The discipline with which he trained to be able to offensively step out onto the floor and shoot the ball from the perimeter … For his size, he’s the best shot blocker in college basketball.”
We all know a handful of NBA teams have already or will so-to-be in full-on tank mode. And spotting them typically isn't all that difficult (we see you, Phoenix Suns). The Dallas Mavericks are one such team. Last season, once they were officially eliminated from the playoffs, the Mavs tanked hard (2-9 to close the year). Mark Cuban didn't mince words when he said that's the plan again this year. And at 18-40 and 13.5 games out of the playoff race, bettors likely won't have to wait until March.
Here we are, not competing for the playoffs and I said, ‘Look, losing is our best option.’ They hated hearing that, but at least I sat down and I explained it to them. I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we’re not going to tank again. This is like a year and a half of tanking and that was too brutal for me.
Being transparent, that’s the key to being a quote-unquote players’ owner. We want the players to understand. As a player, even though you might not agree, at least if you respect the fact that someone took the time to talk to you and you understood their perspective, you’re going to give me your feedback but you’re part of the process.
Last night's NBA All-Star game was actually pretty entertaining and surprisingly competitive. Team LeBron defeated Team Stephen, 148-145, as both teams combined to shoot 48% from the floor. It was a far cry from 2017's event which produced 374 combined points and 57% shooting. But the real story was the beating sportsbooks took on the under. The total opened 366 and closed 333. There was some two-way action once it go into the 340 range but oddsmakers continued to drop their numbers.
BYU at San Diego +3 O/U 133 Recommendation: San Diego
Nothing has come easy for BYU in recent weeks, and a road trip to the Slim Gym isn’t likely to help matters on Saturday. BYU needed overtime to dispense with lowly Pepperdine on Thursday, on the heels of needing OT to knock off almost as lowly San Francisco last weekend in Provo. Now the Cougars must deal with a short turnaround off a pair of OT affairs, while facing a Toreros defense that is physical and extremely tough on the perimeter.
BYU head coach Dave Rose knows what he’s up against today: “They’re one of the most physical teams in the league from what we saw at our place. We’ve gone through and evaluated every team and how we’ve played them. We feel that their size, their athleticism — their guards are really physical — it will be a really tough game, a tough-fought game Saturday. I know our guys will compete. We’ll see how they do.”
It’s surely worth noting that the Jenny Craig Pavilion has not been particularly friendly for the Cougars in recent meetings. BYU has been favored in all six games they’ve played at San Diego since joining the West Coast conference. The Cougs are just 3-3 SU in those six meetings, including a 13 point win over the Cougs last year as 10.5 point underdogs.
The numbers do not lie. San Diego ranks #3 in the country at defending the three point line, allowing opponents to connect on just 29% of their shots from beyond the arc. This is a clear matchup disadvantage for the road favorite, a team that relies heavily on their perimeter shooting. When Elijah Bryant and TJ Haws aren’t raining three’s, the Cougars are struggling to win, let alone win by any sort of margin.
BYU is a sub .500 team on the highway in WCC play this year, including an ugly loss earlier in the month as double digit favorites at Loyola Marymount. They trailed at home to San Diego in the second half of the first meeting before a 31-15 closeout over the final 11 minutes to get the win and cover. The Cougs certainly haven’t been closing out many games on the highway in similar fashion. Take San Diego.
Friday's Sportsmemo Podcast featured a Q&A with the Sportsmemo Handicappers. Host Andrew Lange discussed some of the questions Sportsmemo followers sent in. Topics included: College basketball futures, college basketball power ratings, Bitcoin, offscreen sportsbooks, and more.
This should make for an interesting handicap. The Arizona Diamondbacks are finally going to install a humidor which some think will suppress home runs and this scoring by a significant amount. Below are the over/under, average total, and average runs scored results at Chase Field over the last five seasons.
2017: 42-34-7 O/U, avg. total 9.4, avg. rpg 9.95 2016: 50-28-3 O/U, avg. total 9.0, avg. rpg 11.16 2015: 39-35-5 O/U, avg. total 8.4, avg. rpg 9.11 2014: 36-41-4 O/U, avg. total 8.3, avg. rpg 8.98 2013: 34-46-1 O/U, avg. total 8.5, avg. rpg 8.40
“I am very comfortable saying that, with the humidor running at 50 percent and 70 degrees, there will a reduction in home run production at Chase by 25 to 50 percent,” Nathan concluded. “While it would be nice to come up with a more precise prediction, we should not lose sight of the principal takeaway that the installation of a humidor will reduce the number of home runs substantially.”
"International expansion may provide room for minor incremental growth, and there’s always a number of customers who weren’t legally able to play real-money DFS last year due to age restrictions that can now, but those sources aren’t anywhere near enough to get the two companies back on the growth track."
Looking at Google Trends search volume for "daily fantasy sports," traffic was significantly lower in 2017 than it was in 2016, which Eilers & Krejcik Gaming says indicates a decline in interest among new customers. It believes that the downward trend will continue into 2018.
Indiana -4 at Brooklyn O/U 212.5 Recommendation: Indiana
Very quietly, waaaaaaay underneath the radar, the Indiana Pacers are playing their best basketball of the season heading into the All-Star break. Indiana has won its last two, including an impressive road win at Boston. They’ve won seven of their last ten overall; 13-6 in their last 19 contests; a stretch that includes SU road wins at Utah, San Antonio and Phoenix as well as that win against the Celtics.
There were some initial concerns about the chemistry between players and management after Indiana stood pat at the trading deadline, unable to give the team a boost in their push towards the playoffs. Quotes like this one from Thaddeus Young make it VERY clear that any chemistry concerns are vastly overblown:
"We were just excited they decided to keep this thing together and let us keep getting better. Right after the game (vs. the Knicks on Sunday), (GM Chad Buchanon) texted us and said, 'Great win. But it's not over. We still have one game before the All-Star break,' and we all responded right then and there. It's like I said, this is one of the most unified teams I've ever been a part of."
The Nets have had a hard time from the get-go of late, routinely falling into early deficits. They’ve lost ten of their last eleven, including four consecutive defeats by double digits at home in Brooklyn. The Nets lost by a dozen when they faced Indiana at home earlier in the season. A similar margin tonight would be no surprise for this bettor! Take the Pacers.
The Saint Louis Billikens announced that starting guard Jordan Goodwin will miss the remainder of the season due to a violation of school policy. One of SLU's better recruits in recent history, Goodwin averaged will cover 30 minutes per game and scored 28 points in last Saturday's win over LaSalle. After an 8-10, 1-4 A-10 start, SLU has won and covered six of its last eight. They'll finish the rest of the season with only seven scholarship players.
Good article on the NBA's strength of schedule the remainder of the season. Despite playing in the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors have the easiest remaining slate. The Washington Wizards, who according to ESPN's SOS have played the easiest schedule of any team in the league, will now face one of the toughest.
Chicago at Vegas O/U 6 Recommendation: Vegas -1.5 puck line
Vegas is off a very rare home loss (19-6 YTD) on Sunday to the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-1 but the Golden Knights have been a resilient group all season and have consistently responded well after a poor performance as evidenced by their 14-5 record off of a single loss. The Golden Knights outshot the Flyers despite coming up short on the scoreboard but the team felt they were not creating enough quality scoring chances nor were they making life uncomfortable enough for the opposing goaltender something the team has vowed to try and correct for this home game tonight against the Blackhawks. Chicago is in freefall mode currently a shell of the team they have been for most of the last decade in which they have been a perennial Stanley Cup contender. The Blackhawks have lost six straight games entering this contest tonight and now face the arduous task of playing their third road game in four nights against a much better and highly motivated hockey team. Chicago has been outscored by Minnesota and Arizona in the first two games of this road swing by a combined score of 9-1 and now will be up against not only the tough schedule they have been dealt but also an even better opponent on the ice tonight. It’s worth noting that Chicago already lost in Vegas earlier this season at T-Mobile Arena by a score of 4-2 and they are primed for a similar result.
Baylor at Texas -2.5 O/U 133.5 Recommendation: Under
After an inexplicable three-game stretch where Baylor had a complete lapse of defense, the Bears have regained its identity. The Bears current 3-0 straight up and against the spread run comes on the heels of a 1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS mark where they allowed 90, 81 and 98 points and 52% FG shooting or better in all three. The catalyst for Baylor’s recent ticket cashing threesome has really been a combination of trademark defense and ball sharing on offense. Baylor is now 5-7 in Big XII play after a 2-8 start which brought the team to a crossroads. Nuni Omot said, “We got together and told ourselves that it’s going to be a fight, but we really have to do it for each other”. “We’re starting to do it for each other and we’re starting to share the ball and we’re starting to look for everyone. That’s the biggest part, we’re just playing together.”
Texas sits at 5-7 in league play right now too so with six games left, this one is obviously important to them as well. Unlike Baylor, the Longhorns stout defense has currently abandoned them allowing 54.8%, 53.7% and 51.6% from the field in their last three games. That has resulted in a 1-2 SU/ATS record including Saturday’s 16-point home loss to TCU in which Texas wasted one of their best offensive performances of the conference season.
Games are all about matchups and styles and this head-to-head is different from all others in the Big XII. These teams are mirror images in their desire for half-court tempo and tough defense but it’s the amount of size and length across the respective front lines that makes this matchup unique. That’s where the battle will be fought tonight and if it’s a draw, perimeter shooting will be the difference. Fundamentally, Baylor’s zone which has asserted itself again figures to be a difference maker. UT does not have a consistently reliable three-point attack and with Baylor contesting all shots, Texas faces a tough task. Have to also note Baylor’s turnover percentage which ranks worst in the Big XII. In past years that would be ripe for the picking against Shaka Smart’s aggressive defense but this version isn’t a turnover forcing team (9th in Big XII). The current line of -2.5 doesn’t leave much room for error (although my power ratings did make this game Texas only -0.5) so the look here will be toward the total. In their initial meeting Back on January 6 in Waco, Baylor won 69-60 with the closing line and total almost identical (home team -2.5, O/U 133) to what we see right now. Something in that vicinity is expected again tonight.
Glad we aren't the only ones who see the leagues' request for an "integrity fee" as bananas.
A one percent fee on handle equates to about a 20 percent tax on revenue:
Sportsbooks hold about five percent (in a solid year) of the total amount wagered. So for every $100 wagered, sportsbooks can expect to realize $5. A one percent integrity fee would cost sportsbooks $1 on every $100 wagered. That $1 represents 20 percent of the $5 sportsbooks can expect in revenue.
That tax alone would arguably be enough to make sports betting economically unviable. But in addition to that tax, sportsbooks would also have to pay:
Whatever tax rate the state applies (Nevada is 6.75 percent on revenue, most other states are floating rates between nine and 20 percent).
The existing federal excise tax (.25 percent of handle, or roughly 5 percent of revenue).
LA Clippers at Detroit -3 O/U 219 Recommendation: Detroit
The Pistons have won five straight since snapping their eight game losing streak, the last four of which have come with Blake Griffin on the court for Detroit. The numbers with Griffin and fellow low post stud Andre Drummond on the court together have been remarkable; jelling immediately as a duo.
In 84 court minutes together through four games, Detroit has averaged 112.6 points per 100 possessions on offense while allowing only 88.2 PP/100 on defense. That results in a remarkable net of +24.4 PP/100 with that duo on the floor. Throw in a 54.9% in percentage of available rebounds Detroit has snagged with the Griffin/Drummond duo on the floor and all of a sudden Stan Van Gundy’s squad has the look of a legitimate contender.
These quotes from the Pistons locker room really stand out. Drummond: “It can only get better from here. With (Griffin’s) addition it’s just been a lot of fun. He’s able to handle the ball; he’s a great playmaker. He’s doing a great job of adjusting right now.”
Van Gundy, following last Saturday’s win against the Heat: “'I've got to get it figured out offensively. I'm not helping him or us a lot. You could actually see today in the early fourth quarter, we were actually a lot smoother when he was out because we were just playing. I've got this great player now, and so we're just sort of playing to him all the time, and the defense is all loaded up.''
Detroit made another deal prior to the trading deadline that should help as well; picking up veteran point guard Jameer Nelson. It’s surely worth noting that Nelson took the Orlando Magic to the Finals under Stan Van Gundy earlier in his career, a coach and a backup point guard that have chemistry together. Given the Pistons struggles at the point since Reggie Jackson got hurt, this relatively minor deal has the potential to have a major impact for Detroit’s struggling second unit.
The Clippers won a pair of games at home following the Griffin deal, knocking off the lowly Bulls and Mavs. Doc Rivers is trying to put a good spin on this tough road trip, heading into the All-Star Break: “I actually think it's good we're going on the road. We'll find out a lot about ourselves. It gives us a chance to kind of grow together, bond together. And we have three days to prepare for it. So I think that's all good for us." Sounds like coach-speak to this bettor! Take the Pistons.
Earlier this week, Las Vegas' CG Technology posted 2018 MLB Season Over/Under Win totals. Below is a handy chart of their numbers, last year's wins, and the difference. Biggest projected "gainers" include: San Francisco (+17.5), New York Mets (+10.5) Philadelphia (+8.5) and Toronto (+5.5). Biggest "decliners" include: Miami (-12.5), Los Angeles Dodgers (-8.5), Cleveland (-8.5), Arizona (-6.5) and Washington (-5.5).