Friday, April 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
As promised, we’re back with reports on sharp action just in time for the NBA Playoffs. We appreciate that so many of you read every word about Wise Guy betting back during March Madness. We’ll stay on top of developments on a daily basis during this initial blitzkrieg of early playoff action. We’ll only slow down when the schedule slows down!
There are FOUR games on the first big day of action. Let’s take them in order of Saturday’s tipoffs…
BROOKLYN AT TORONTO: We’ve largely seen a tug-of-war here between Toronto -2 and Brooklyn +2.5. More action has been coming in on the dog at +2.5. But, whenever a store tests the two, favorite money starts coming in. Note that the pubic generally bets favorites in the NBA Playoffs, just like any other time. Toronto, though, is far from a public team. They’re never on TV. There’s not exactly a pipeline from Canadian money to Vegas. Brooklyn will be the public team in this series if...
Friday, April 18, 2014 at 4:00 PM
I had originally scheduled a baseball article for this spot. But, I’ve been hearing and reading so much basketball misinformation about NBA defenses heading into this weekend’s playoffs that I decided to come back with a special report clearing up the mistakes you may have been exposed to.
Here are a couple of quickies:
*The Western powers DON’T play soft defense. Many play at faster that average paces, which creates the illusion of soft defense. The media tends to celebrate many defenses in the East (where play is slower and there are fewer great scorers) while blasting defense in the West (where play is faster and there are many star scorers). When you adjust for context, you see how strong many of the Western defenses truly are.
*San Antonio DOESN’T play mediocre defense and win with great ball movement on offense. Sure, they have great ball movement. But, their defense is terrific! On a per possession basis, the Spurs rank #4 in the league. Their...
Friday, April 18, 2014 at 1:00 PM
The NBA Playoffs start Saturday…so you know THE KING OF UPSETS is already on the lookout for possible Cinderella stories involving first round underdogs. I may have some upset calls this weekend in all the series openers. I may be releasing some series upsets to my clients in the hours between now and first tip.
You regular readers know I can’t post my official selections here in my web articles. That information is for paying clients. What I will do for you today is outline what it would take for the underdog in each series to spring an upset and advance to the second round. You can keep those factors in mind as you handicap the full series and each individual game.
Let’s go in the order the series openers will be played this weekend.
*TORONTO (+110) vs. Brooklyn: The Raptors are a series underdog even though they have home court advantage as the superior seed. This obviously wouldn’t be much of an upset with such a low price. The key to me is speed....
Friday, April 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM
If the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to win the 2014 NBA Championship trophy, it looks like they’ll have to win consecutive series against the physically demanding Memphis Grizzlies, the loaded Los Angeles Clippers, the veteran defending conference champion San Antonio Spurs, and then probably the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
Nobody in the West has it “easy” because there are eight good teams in the brackets. But, nobody has it tougher than Oklahoma City. They didn’t draw the soft defense of Dallas…or the injured Golden State Warriors, or the less-than-playoff savvy Houston Rockets or Portland Trailblazers. They have to open with a Memphis Grizzlies team that’s built for the playoff grind.
That series starts Saturday Night, the last of four games on the opening day of playoff action. Let’s run the numbers to see how things might play out…
Memphis: 103.3 per 100 possessions (ranked...
Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 6:36 PM
IT’S DAY ONE OF THE NBA PLAYOFFS —
AND WE HAVE SATURDAY’S FOUR MONSTER MATCHUPS …
PLUS OUR BASEBALL NOTEBOOK
LOOKS AT THE O’S VERSUS RED SOX WRAP-A-ROUND
FOUR-GAME SET IN BEANTOWN THIS WEEKEND
By Jim Hurley
Let’s get the show on the road already!
The NBA Playoffs — that two-month grind that separates the men from the boys in the pro hoops world — will tip off North of the Border on Saturday afternoon and where it ends nobody right now knows but you can be sure that there will be thrills galore.
Much is being made of the fact that the NBA Eastern Conference sported just two teams that played better-than-.600 ball in regular-season play (that’s Indiana and Miami, of course) while seven-of-eight NBA Western Conference squads played .600-plus ball and only eighth-seeded Dallas (.598) fell beneath that elite winning percentage.
So, make sure your fridge is stocked, have fresh batteries in your TV remote...
Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 9:03 AM
THE NBA PLAYOFFS ARE FINALLY SET!!!
WE TAKE A QUICK-HITTER LOOK AT ALL 16 POST-SEASON TEAMS …
PLUS IT’S OUR NFL DRAFT REPORT: HERE’S THE TOP OFFENSIVE TACKLES
By Jim Hurley
Folks, our Jim Sez NBA Playoffs series-by-series previews will fill up the next two columns here — remember the “Second Season” gets underway on Saturday afternoon with four games on both Saturday/Sunday this weekend — but right now we wanted to take a few moments to give y’all an overview of the teams in this year’s post-season with a line or two about each one … enjoy.
EASTERN CONFERENCE —
#1 INDIANA (56-26) — The Pacers’ infighting could cripple this club’s playoff run even before it gets started and we want to know if sulking C Roy Hibbert is gonna “come to play” or is he gonna ride Frank Vogel’s bench for much of Round One?
#2 MIAMI (54-28) — Maybe there is some major truth to the...
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Before the 2014 Major League Baseball season started, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals were on everyone’s short list for National League pennant consideration. Washington was the heavy favorite to win the NL East, particularly when Atlanta was hit with injuries. St. Louis was expected to rule the NL Central again.
Thus far, both teams are winning, if not particularly on fire. It seems very likely that we’re looking at two playoff teams barring a string of significant injuries. That means, this weekend’s four game series matching the two powers could very easily be a playoff preview.
If you’re a baseball fan, you’re going to be watching. Let’s run some numbers and see if we can find some market edges.
St. Louis: 4.14 runs per game, .315 on-base, .377 slugging
Washington: 5.07 runs per game, .341 on-base, .461 slugging
Washington has been explosive with the bats so far, which really jumps off the page this...
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Wednesday Night’s Major League Baseball schedule is highlighted by one of the best pitching matchups possible! Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners takes on Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers in a battle of Cy Young candidates and potential Hall-of-Famers.
There’s a lot more going on here beyond a great pitcher’s matchup though. Seattle is making some early noise as a potential sleeper in the American League West. Texas has gotten so anemic on offense that it’s hard to take them seriously as a playoff contender right now.
*Seattle enters the night over .500 even though they’ve played more road games than home games…and even though their starting rotation hasn’t featured the guys who were supposed to be there! A makeshift rotation has Seattle in the hunt despite a tough early schedule. That suggests a lot of promise moving forward if they can get healthy.
*Texas is slightly off the pace despite playing a home friendly schedule. And, that...
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 3:15 PM
THE NBA REPORT:
IT’S TIME TO PUT AN END
TO THE 2013-14 REGULAR SEASON AND HERE’S
THE WEDNESDAY NITE GAMES WE’RE WATCHING
PLUS IT’S NBA AWARDS TIME TOO …
PLUS THE MLB MID-WEEK UPDATE:
AN EARLY-SEASON DODGERS-GIANTS SERIES WITH GUSTO …
OUR NFL DRAFT COVERAGE ROLLS ON
WITH A LOOK AT THE BEST GUARDS & CENTERS
By Jim Hurley
Finally, we’re about to have all those seeding questions answered — once and for all — as we zoom into the start of the NBA Playoffs this Saturday/Sunday.
The final night of this 2013-14 NBA regular season is jam-packed with 15 games, and in a moment we’ll quickly touch on the ones that have “meaning”, but first let’s get to our annual "Jim Sez" NBA Awards … and see if you agree with our awardees:
MVP — Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City
The Thunder’s 58 wins heading into Wednesday’s finale against Detroit marks the second-most in the...
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers begin a three-game series Tuesday Night that could play a huge role in shaping early dynamics in the American League Central race. Detroit finished the weekend 6-4, sitting in first place despite relatively disappointing offensive numbers out of the gate. Cleveland had the same number of wins, but three more losses. That 6-7 record had them in fourth place in a division (and league) where many teams are within arm’s reach of the .500 mark.
Cleveland was a surprise Wildcard last year. They sure don’t want to fall too far behind Detroit right off the bat in 2014. A deficit of 1.5 games in the standings would turn into 4.5 games if they got swept here. Detroit wants to send a message to the Tribe and the rest of the Central that this is their division once again, and nobody should start getting any ideas!
Let’s take a quick look at offensive production so far. Then we’ll run the probable pitchers for the...
Monday, April 14, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Early in every Major League Baseball season, it’s easy to find “surprises” that caught oddsmakers napping. A few unheralded teams get off to hot starts, and the market doesn’t take them seriously enough (Milwaukee is a great example of that so far in 2014). A few super-rich contending franchises fall flat on their faces (which defending World Champion Boston has done so far, helped along by getting swept in a home series by Milwaukee!). But, we’re seeing something interesting here in mid-April. The market has been underestimating a lot of the BEST teams from last year!
The second-biggest profit through the games of Sunday April 13 belongs to the Atlanta Braves. Their 8-4 start isn’t as great as the 10-2 put up by Milwaukee. But, it’s been good enough to earn almost five units of profit because the Braves have been dogs often. Did Vegas forget that Atlanta won the NL East last year! Everyone was all over Washington again to win this division....
Monday, April 14, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Last week I outlined some initial homework for preparing for the 2014 NBA Playoffs. I’m back as promised this week to go into further depth for the postseason that starts this Saturday and runs all the way through mid-June. We’ll be talking a lot about the playoffs on a “read-and-react” basis beginning next week. For now, there’s a lot you should be doing to prepare for the challenge.
If you missed last week’s article, the three keys outlined at that time were:
*Reviewing recent records so you’re in touch with recent form
*Evaluating teams on the defensive end of the floor
*Evaluating health and depth
Today let’s discuss a few more keys:
*PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS: 3-POINT SHOOTERS
This is always front and center when KELSO STURGEON is talking about sports handicapping. PLAYMAKERS are your MONEYMAKERS! If you follow pro basketball, you barely have to think about who the key scorers are on the top contenders. Be...
Monday, April 14, 2014 at 10:05 AM
Wonder if it still holds true in NBA-land:
The “experts” used to say that if you didn’t have either/both the New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers in the post-season, then the NBA Playoffs suffered.
But, then again, won’t these upcoming NBA Playoffs be way better off without either of these crummy clubs?
The Knicks had their fate sealed this past Saturday night when Atlanta surprised 6-point road favorite Miami 98-85 and – so whether or not this was an “important year” for the Hawks, they’re in and the Knicks are out in the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs while the Lakers waved bye-bye to any/all playoff hopes months ago but there’s always the other team in town to carry the banner … the $64,000 question is whether or not the Clippers can (finally) make a deep run into this post-season in Year One of the Doc Rivers Era.
In any event, the NBA Playoffs tip off Saturday with four games and another four Sunday tilts and we...
Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 7:00 PM
A lot of suspense was taken out of the NBA Playoff chase this past weekend. There are still some things to be determined with seeding in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. But, we know who the eight bracket teams will be in the East after Atlanta clinched the eighth and final spot with a win over Miami Saturday Night (and, New York didn’t seem particularly heartbroken to miss the playoffs). And, we know who seven of the eight teams will be in the West thanks to a big win for Dallas Saturday Night over Phoenix.
All that’s left is to determine who the final team will be in the West. It’s either going to be Memphis or Phoenix…and Memphis PLAYS Phoenix Monday Night! Let’s run that matchup through our gauntlet of indicator stats. It’s a shame that one of these teams won’t be in the postseason. Either would be a serious threat to go very deep if they played in the East. (And, geographically, Memphis SHOULD be in the...
Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 7:00 AM
You know you’re going to get baseball intensity whenever the Boston Red Sox take on the New York Yankees. And, that’s true just when the front offices are spending money! On the field, the Boston Red Sox are defending World Champions here in the 2014 season…while the New York Yankees are feverishly spending on players and brainpower to catch them from behind.
This week’s edition of Sunday Night Baseball gives us a chance to check in on how things are proceeding early in this new season. The AL East is once again loaded with talent. Though, the five divisional teams (these two plus Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Toronto) were surprisingly close to .500 entering the weekend. They’re not yet up to peak form. And, you’re REALLY going to see that with the Red Sox as we run through the key stats in Sunday’s matchup.
Let’s start with the offenses. Here’s a look at last year’s production for both of tonight’s teams....
Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The race for the #7 and #8 spots in the Western Conference of the NBA is going right down to the wire. Only two teams out of Phoenix, Dallas, and Memphis will be playing in the postseason. One will be the heartbroken warrior who battled for weeks only to fall short.
Magnifying the drama:
Phoenix visits Dallas Saturday Night
Phoenix hosts Memphis Monday Night
Dallas visits Memphis Wednesday Night
All control their own destiny because winning out gets them into the playoffs. But, Dallas arguably has the easiest path because those are the only two games they have left! The Mavericks can really focus on taking care of business. And, they won’t be dealing with a back-to-back either time. In fact, they’ll have Sunday-Monday-Tuesday off between hosting Phoenix and visiting Memphis.
Here’s what’s on tap for the others:
Phoenix: at Dallas Saturday, vs. Memphis Monday, at Sacramento Wednesday
Memphis: at LA Lakers Sunday, at Phoenix Monday, vs....
Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM
THE JIM SEZ UPDATE:
WHAT TO WATCH ON THIS FINAL WEEKEND OF NBA REGULAR SEASON ACTION …
OUR BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES FEATURES RED SOX-YANKEES CHIT-CHAT …
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT:TIME TO CHECK OUT THE BEST RBs
By Jim Hurley
Want some really great news?
A week from now we’ll be busy previewing the NBA Playoffs—that’s eight opening-round series that’ll offer up plenty of spine-tingling stuff …
Will we have any #1 or #2 seeds exiled (guess we still can’t get this year’s NCAA Tournament out of our heads, okay?) or are we headed to a chalk-laden first round of playoff action?
Do stay tuned!
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of great games on this weekend’s docket—yes, the NBA regular season comes to a close Wednesday night—and so if you’re already missing hoops after that great NCAA Tourney then kick back and check out some of these Saturday/Sunday TV tilts:
On Saturday, it’s...
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 7:00 PM
As we work our way through the final days of the NBA regular season, it’s very clear to me that the upcoming playoffs may be chock full of surprises. That’s not something you always think in the NBA, particularly when there’s a dominant team like the Miami Heat in the Eastern half of the brackets. But, fresh off an NCAA Tournament won by a surging #7 seed, we may be in for a Cinderella story or two in pro hoops!
*First, the Eastern favorites are more vulnerable than we’ve seen in recent seasons. Sure, Miami is still the deserved favorite. But, they’re showing chinks in the armor from age and the wear-and-tear of wearing the championship belt for so long. If Dwyane Wade can’t play to his normal levels (he’s been sitting out for awhile trying to get ready), and this defense fails to chase down open shooters on the perimeter, Miami could be taken out of the picture.
Indiana has turned from Eastern co-favorites into a huge question mark! Sports...
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM
I promised I’d talk baseball with you here in the late-week edition of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. Perusing the standings this morning made it very clear what I should be talking about. PARITY!
If you look across the standings, particularly in the American League, you see very little that differentiates the best from the rest. In fact, Boston is in last place in the East after getting swept by Milwaukee. But, a 4-6 record is only a game out of first place because three teams are tied at 5-5! Now…the East is playing a lot of games against each other right out of the gate. There will be plenty of time to establish superiority against the other divisions. Losing a home series to Milwaukee is a red flag that the division may be falling back to the pack.
In the post-steroid era, we may end up seeing a lot more parity than you’re used to in Major League Baseball. For many years (more than the powers-that-be would like to admit), it was...
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM
How to bet on football more like a sharp and less like a sucker
By Brett Smiley (special contributor to VegasSportsMasters.com)
From September 21, 2012
You’ve got some action but do you really have a clue? Maybe. More likely you’re part of the uninformed, reactive public that bets for entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with that (except your ticket). But if you’re interested in making a profit, you can recalibrate your sports betting approach, follow telling trends, ignore popular sentiment and put your bankroll where the sharps do.
The house always wins, but it doesn’t beat everyone.
To bring you some knowledge as the NFL season heats up (assuming you have some basic understanding of sports betting), we spoke with Jay Rood, who sets the lines for all MGM properties, and Richie Baccellieri, former sports book manager at Caesar’s, the MGM Grand and the Palms Hotel who’s currently an expert on the Sporting News’ show...
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 7:00 AM
At the simplest level, Friday Night’s TV game matching the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat won’t be a preview of the Eastern Conference Championship round…even if those teams are destined to make it that far. Miami is dead tired, playing their fourth game in six days this week. Indiana may or may not be resting its starters (unclear as of publication time).
But, due to stunning recent developments, what was once a foregone conclusion regarding these teams coasting through the early rounds is now very much in doubt. Miami is still the favorite, though they’re starting to play like an old team rather than a juggernaut. Indiana is a mystery inside an enigma surrounded by a potential chemistry explosion.
*Indiana has played at a level consistent with THE WORST teams in pro basketball over the past month.
*Indiana players are having well publicized issues getting along with each other.
*Indiana may have tuned out their head coach, given how unresponsive...
Friday, April 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM
IT’S A CASE OF “TGIF” IN THE NBA
AS THERE’S A SLEW OF BIG GAMES ON THIS FRIDAY NIGHT CARD …
OUR MLB REPORT ASKS: WHERE’S THE POP SO FAR IN THE CINCINNATI REDS’ OFFENSE? …
PLUS OUR JIM SEZ NFL DRAFT REPORT ROLLS ON: WE ZOOM IN ON THE BEST SAFETIES
By Jim Hurley
Dig this, NBA fans:
There are 13 games on this Friday night calendar and all of ‘em but one — that’s Cleveland at Milwaukee — has some sort of playoff implication and how do you beat that with now less than a full week remaining in this 2013-14 regular season … you don’t!
So, without further ado let’s dribble-drive our way through a half-dozen games this evening with playoff meaning …
WASHINGTON (40-38) at ORLANDO (23-55) — The Wizards don’t exactly seem hell-bent on landing that coveted #6 seed (and thus avoiding a first-round playoff series with either Miami or Indiana) as Randy ...
Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The San Antonio Spurs are going to be the #1 seed in the loaded Western Conference Playoffs once again this season. Their first round opponent has yet to be determined, as Dallas, Phoenix, and Memphis are fighting it out for the last two spots on the dance card. And, it’s conceivable that Golden State could even fall back into the #8 spot.
If the Spurs WANT to face the Mavericks in the first round, they can help force the issue by beating them in Game One of Thursday’s TNT doubleheader. If they don’t want to play them, they could help force THAT issue by losing!
San Antonio clearly brought limited intensity to Tuesday Night’s loss at Minnesota. Perhaps that was to set the stage for a more active approach to a two-night challenge that includes Dallas, then Phoenix in the river city on Friday. We just mentioned that the Suns are in the hunt for playoff life as well. Handicappers will have A LOT to think about regarding those two games. For...
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 at 7:00 AM
You can’t watch an NBA TV game these days without seeing Blake Griffin car commercials, Chris Paul (and his alleged twin brother Cliff) selling insurance for those cars, Russell Westbrook pitching new pizza bread at a sandwich shop, and Kevin Durant starring in highlight reels that advertise shoes, soft drinks or whatever the next big thing is going to be. Won’t it be great Wednesday Night to see those stars on the court against each other!
It’s the Oklahoma City Thunder visiting the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday Night on ESPN in a game that will likely preview the Western Conference semifinals. Right now, OKC and the LA Clippers are battling for the #2 and #3 seeds in the West. Neither is going to catch San Antonio. Neither is going to get caught from behind by #4 Houston barring a huge surprise. So…if the Thunder and Clips can survive the first round…they’ll meet in the second. Wednesday’s game could play a big role in determining...
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Last week I talked about some general principles for finding underdog value early in the Major League Baseball season. Today, I want to talk about the option gamblers have of taking underdogs getting +1.5 runs rather than using the moneyline.
This can be a very tricky issue. And, even quants don’t agree on the exact percentages in every single instance. There are so many variables in play in a baseball game (talent, ballpark, weather, umpire, matchups of flyball/groundball tendencies vs. each opponent) that pinning down an exact framework is virtually impossible. But, I do have some general rules of thumbs that recreational bettors can use when deciding.
The first thing to remember is that your odds change dramatically. When you’re asking a dog to win straight up, you’re going to win more than you risk. When you take that +1.5 runs instead, you’re typically going to risk more than you win. If you prefer longshots and higher payouts, then just stick with the...
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 at 2:00 PM
If you’re like most basketball fans, you’re sad to see March Madness in the rearview mirror, but happy to know that the NBA Playoffs are coming up very soon. There are several dramatic storylines you need to get caught up with right now if you want to make money through the postseason. All of you students of my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping need to do the work this week and next to make sure you’re ready for the playoffs.
Here’s some homework designed to get you up to speed.
*Find/Calculate Won-Lost Records For:
Only Since January 1
Only since March 1
You want to a full big picture and little picture sense of what teams are capable of overall, but what kind of form they’re in right now. You’re going to see the best of teams in the playoffs, as a general rule. That means knowing what their peak looks like even if it happened back in December. But, recent form also matters in terms of teams...
Tuesday, April 08, 2014 at 11:10 AM
UCONN’S THE KING OF THE COLLEGE B-BALL COURT AS THE HUSKIES SNAG 60-54 WIN OVER KENTUCKY …
PLUS WE’RE CHECKIN’ OUT A PAIR OF KEY TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY TILTS IN THE NBA
By Jim Hurley
It was right around 11:30 p.m. Eastern time on Monday night — just moments after the UConn Huskies hung on to beat 2 ½-point favorite Kentucky 60-54 in a rather strange NCAA Championship Game (which we nailed right here on the site, along with the total never coming close to 135)— when one thought came to mind:
Wonder what the kids at St. Joe’s were thinking!
As you no doubt remember, this improbable UConn run right through the NCAA Tourney started with an 89-81 overtime triumph by Connecticut against a gritty/gutty St. Joe’s team way back on March 20th in Buffalo, but keep in mind the Huskies were down in that second-round tilt 70-67 with just 49.2 seconds left in regulation play when UConn center Amida Brimah scored on an...
Monday, April 07, 2014 at 8:00 PM
The mainstream media has been spending a lot of time talking about the race for the #1 seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. That’s become even more prevalent the last few days with the stunning collapse of Indiana! But, hidden amidst the hoopla is the fact that it’s actually the Brooklyn Nets who have been the best in the East since New Year’s. That’s THREE MONTHS where the veteran Nets have established that they may well be a force in the coming playoffs.
Tuesday Night, it’s the Best in the East for the full season taking on the Best in the East since New Year’s in a game that could end up being a playoff preview. Let’s run some key numbers for Brooklyn and Miami to set the stage.
Brooklyn: 104.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #14 in the NBA)
Miami: 109.6 per 100 possessions (ranked #1 in the NBA)
Even though Miami is prone to save something for the playoffs…and even though Miami has been...
Monday, April 07, 2014 at 1:00 PM
One final sharp report for college basketball as we study Wise Guy betting in Monday Night’s National Championship game featuring the Kentucky Wildcats and the Connecticut Huskies. Our sharp reports will resume at the beginning of the NBA Playoffs…which will be here before you know it.
Here we go…let’s jump right in…
KENTUCKY VS. CONNECTICUT: The first offshore number up was Kentucky -3.5, while other early birds posted Kentucky -3. Sharps hit underdog Connecticut at both of those numbers. Old school handicappers in particularly like betting underdogs who are likely to have advantages in the area of defense and guard play. That contingent was happy to take anything at three or better right off the bat, rather than waiting to see if the public was going to come in on Kentucky.
The line soon settled at Kentucky -2.5…and has largely stayed there because the public hasn’t yet come in heavily on Kentucky. That could happen in the hours...
Monday, April 07, 2014 at 9:50 AM
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT —
FINALLY, IT’S TIME TO CROWN A CHAMPION
AS #8 KENTUCKY VS. #7 UCONN
TAKE CENTER STAGE IN “JERRY’S HOUSE”
By Jim Hurley
What a long strange trip, indeed!
Now maybe five or six months ago the thought of a Kentucky versus Connecticut showdown for the NCAA Tournament Championship Game might have made plenty of sense, but not after we all witnessed these clubs combine for a whopping 18 losses even before either one of these clubs put on their “dancin’ shoes”.
Still, here we are with an #8 seed battling a #7 seed — the highest-ever combined seeds total to play in a title tilt since such seed numbers were first applied way back in 1979 — and it’s mind-boggling to realize the minefields these teams had to navigate just to get here:
Let’s review …
Kentucky’s been the king of the last-second win in this tourney thanks to the dizzying display of clutch shooting by G...
Sunday, April 06, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Prior to just hours ago, it was almost impossible to imagine that the BEST seed in an NCAA Championship game would be a #7 seed. Even with all the Cinderella stories over the years…there are usually a few powers that survive until the Final weekend…and then at least one is playing for the title. This year, it’s #7 Connecticut facing #8 Kentucky in the most shocking final ever!
It’s hard to call UCONN and Kentucky Cinderella’s in the traditional sense because of their storied traditions. Kentucky just won a national title two years ago. Connecticut has a great Dance history too. But, THIS YEAR, something like this just wasn’t supposed to happen. But, game by game, both the Wildcats and Huskies dispatched with higher seeded threats.
#1 seed Wichita State
#4 seed Louisville (who the computers had rated as a #1 seed)
#2 seed Michigan
#2 seed Wisconsin
#2 seed Villanova
#3 seed Iowa State
Sunday, April 06, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers goes back decades. It’s been known to ebb and flow based on team quality from year-to-year. But, right now, it’s about as intense as its ever been. Well, at least since the teams moved West about 50 years ago!
San Francisco has won recent championships. Los Angeles spent the money to position themselves to take West Coast supremacy away from the Giants. San Francisco resents trying to “buy” a title. Los Angeles resents a bunch of No-Cal’s thinking they’re better. What was already volatile has really blown up in recent action. That guarantees intensity for the series finale in the first 2014 meeting between the franchises.
If you’re a baseball fan…you’ll be watching Sunday Night on ESPN. If you’re a baseball bettor in Las Vegas, you want to win while you watch! Let’s look at the projected pitching matchup.
PROBABLE PITCHERS (2013 stats)
Cain: 4.00 ERA, 1.12...
Saturday, April 05, 2014 at 11:57 AM
IT'S FINAL FOUR WEEKEND
By Jim Hurley
You're right ... we're on the eve of crowning a new College Basketball champion and there's so much we want to say about this year's title tilt but first let's do some reviewin'.
We will turn the calendar back to Selection Sunday (that was March 16th) for just a moment: You remember the hue-and-cry about the college basketball teams that were handed "wrong seeds" and we here at Jim Sez were very much front-and-center in the complaint department regarding the likes of Louisville getting a #4 seed (we thought the defending champs had a decent shot at landing that final #1 seed) and even bemoaned the fact that mighty Michigan State also was handed a #4 seed after storming through the Big 10 Tournament in Indianapolis.
Guess we have to 'fess up to a few things then:
First of all, neither Louisville nor Michigan State even made it here to "North Texas" and so even if they were not seeded correctly the play on the court seems to show they...
Saturday, April 05, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Back as promised to take a look at how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting Saturday’s national semifinal games featuring Florida vs. Connecticut and Kentucky vs. Wisconsin. We’ll have one last college basketball sharp report midday Monday to look at the championship game. Then, we’ll pick up again when the NBA playoffs get started in a few weeks.
We’ll take the games in schedule order, starting with the only #1 seed left in the Big Dance…the Florida Gators.
FLORIDA VS. CONNECTICUT: Differing sharp contingents have generally settled in on Florida -6 (which was bet early by groups favoring the Gators) and Connecticut +6.5 (which was bet after the settled at the hook for awhile). The public won’t be influencing the market heavily until game day. But, that could also set up a tug-of-war in the same spots because squares generally back the favorite, but New York money often finds its way to Las Vegas. New York money has been...
Friday, April 04, 2014 at 7:00 PM
The nightcap of Saturday’s Final Four basketball fast features a pair of top quality teams who go about things in very different ways. The contrasts between Wisconsin and Kentucky aren’t as extreme as they used to be. Wisconsin is a touch faster and a bit more athletic this year than in the past (which is why they’re having such a deep run!). Kentucky is a bit slower this year and was late to find their killer instinct (which is why they were only a #8 seed). But, we still have two very distinct approaches to basketball.
*Wisconsin patiently works the ball around on offense, trying to find an open look. Kentucky gets the ball to a star who attacks the basket quickly and aggressively. That leads to some big days from long range for Wisconsin, and some big days at the free throw line for Kentucky.
*Wisconsin tends to back off in the paint if the ball goes in deep. They’re particularly soft when center Frank Kaminsky isn’t near the rim discouraging shots....
Friday, April 04, 2014 at 2:00 PM
It’s been a long profitable college basketball season. Now we come to the grand finale weekend…with the Final Four matchups Saturday in Arlington (Florida vs. Connecticut, and Wisconsin vs. Kentucky), followed by the championship game Monday Night featuring those two winners.
I can’t go into specifics about what my side or total selections might be. Historically, I’ve had some VERY big releases through Final Four weekend. You can safely assume that’s going to happen again. And, I can’t take the risk of poisoning the pointspreads for all of my paying customers.
But, the Dean of Sports Handicapping will be happy to talk about some general principals you should be applying this weekend. This is my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping. I know you expect at least a small lecture of tips and strategies right before the big games!
The first thing to remember is that the environment of the Final Four is unlike anything many of these kids...
Friday, April 04, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Pretty much everyone but Florida can make the case that they’re a Cinderella team in the Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Gators were a #1 seed that was supposed to get this far. And, they’ve been the betting favorite for awhile because they’ve been playing well and had an easier path than the other market choices.
Everyone else can feel like they’re an underdog battling the odds in dramatic fashion.
*WISCONSIN is a #2 seed, and normally #2 seeds aren’t a big surprise to reach the final weekend. But, the Badgers were really on third best from the Big 10 entering the tournament. Michigan won the regular season title. Michigan State was playing great ball late in the season…and then beat Michigan in the Big 10 conference tournament. Wisconsin was more of a spoiler than a serious threat. Well, they spoiled top West seed Arizona’s plans in the Elite Eight, and are the last Big 10 team in action this season (after Minnesota won the...
Friday, April 04, 2014 at 9:11 AM
OUR NCAA TOURNAMENT FINAL FOUR REPORT —WE DELVE INTO THE KENTUCKY VS. WISCONSIN MATCHUP ON SATURDAY NITE
A RE-CAP OF MINNESOTA’S WIN IN THE NIT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
By Jim Hurley
Here is today’s little hoops history lesson when it comes to this juicy Final Four game between #8 Kentucky —the Midwest Regional champs —and the #2 seed Wisconsin that copped this year’s NCAA Tournament’s West Regional title:
Kentucky has eight —count ‘em, eight —national championship trophies in its collection at Rupp Arena as the Wildcats won it all in 1948, ’49, 1951 and ’58 under coach Adolph Rupp and later won four more crowns under four different head coaches as Joe B. Hall (1978), Rick Pitino (1996), Tubby Smith (1998) and current coach John Calipari (2012) all have cut down the nets and there were plenty of folks prior to the start of this 2013-14 season that believed the UK ‘Cats were primed to win it all...
Friday, April 04, 2014 at 7:00 AM
We begin our two-day preview of this Saturday’s Final Four matchups with a look at Game One of the doubleheader. The Florida Gators are the only #1 seed left in the NCAA Tournament. And, according to the computers, they have a chance to reach the finals without facing a single team that’s in the top 10! That’s surely taking advantage of some bracket breaks. But, make no mistake…this is a legitimate power capable of running the table even against a tougher slate. Their wins over Pittsburgh and UCLA make that very clear.
Connecticut isn’t the biggest Cinderella left in the Dance based on seeding. But, that’s because the committee gave Kentucky a #8 when they really deserved a #4 or a #5. The computers have UCONN as the only real Cinderella in Arlington. Can the Huskies do a Texas Two-Step on the way to a stunning national title?
Let’s run some numbers!
Florida: #1 in Pomeroy, #1 in Sagarin
UCONN: #15 in Pomeroy,...
Thursday, April 03, 2014 at 1:00 PM
Before everyone settles in for what could be a very exciting Final Four weekend in the NCAA Tournament, college hoops fans will be treated to the NIT Championship Thursday Night in Madison Square Garden when SMU takes on Minnesota.
SMU is this year’s “chip on their shoulder” team after getting snubbed by the NCAA selection committee. It’s amazing how many times over the years THAT team has run the table in the NIT. But, the table hasn’t been run just yet! Minnesota was battle tested this year in the brutal Big 10. And, they’ve been showing off that toughness during their own NIT run.
How have sharps been betting this grand finale to the NIT? Let’s take a look.
SMU VS. MINNESOTA: There’s been no interest from sharps at the most common opening number of SMU -3. That’s where the Wise Guys had the game Power Rated. They’ll fade any move off of the three by the general public if that occurs in the hours leading up to tipoff. If...
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 7:00 PM
SMU had to overcome a sluggish first half Tuesday Night to get past Clemson in the NIT semifinals. Minnesota had to survive overtime after a sluggish second half in the other semifinal against Florida State. Now, SMU and Minnesota will try to put two solid halves together in hopes of cutting down the nets and carrying the championship trophy back to their campus.
Let’s see what the computers are saying about this TV showdown that hoops fans will be watching on ESPN.
SMU: #30 in Pomeroy, #30 in Sagarin
Minnesota: #52 in Pomeroy, #40 in Sagarin
SMU is still seen as the best team in the NIT, which has been true for the whole event. College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin both have them exactly at #30. There’s disagreement about Minnesota. And, that’s actually a fairly large disagreement here at the end of the season. The two publicly available computer assessments (Hurley Network computer projections...
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 at 7:00 AM
It’s been a long time since we had a chance to write about the NBA. With the Brooklyn Nets visiting the New York Knicks Wednesday Night in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN, this seems like the perfect time to get caught up on the big stories in the Big Apple. That will help us transition back to expanded NBA coverage once the NIT and Big Dance are in the books.
Before the season began, Brooklyn and New York were both supposed to play prominent roles in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The betting markets didn’t see them as threats to win the East at the expense of powerhouse Miami. But, they were supposed to be on the short list of teams who were locks to play in the postseason.
PRESEASON EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF PROJECTIONS
1…Miami 61.5 wins
2…Chicago 56.5 wins
3…Indiana 55.5 wins
4…Brooklyn 52 wins
5…New York 49.5 wins
6…Detroit 41 wins
7…Cleveland 40 wins
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 1:21 PM
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT –WE INCH CLOSER AND CLOSER TO SATURDAY’S FINAL FOUR ACTION
By Jim Hurley
Want to know why getting hot at the right time means everything come NCAA Tournament play?
Well, if you checked out the Associated Press Top 25 rankings from a couple of weeks ago you’d see the Florida Gators sitting there at #1, but to find the other three teams in this weekend’s Final Four you’d go to Wisconsin at #12, Connecticut at #18 and Kentucky at – get this – not even in the Top 25!
It’s been an incredible two weeks of NCAA Tourney play and no doubt both UConn and Kentucky are the blueblood teams that didn’t expect to be here but they are and the current win-it-all odds read like this:
NCAA TOURNAMENT – ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
ODDS ($100 PER PLAY)
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 12:30 PM
We have seen some Wise Guy action in both of Tuesday Night’s Final Four matchups in the NIT. Since we know many of you will be watching the final games in this classic tournament played at Madison Square Garden in New York on the ESPN network…we put together a special Tuesday report. We are likely to have a Thursday update as well long after sharps have had a chance to make their preferences known.
Going in the order of tipoffs…
SMU VS. CLEMSON: An opener of SMU -2.5 has been bet up to -3 and -3.5 in Las Vegas. This is a mix of sharp and square action. But, honestly, squares don’t spend much time with the NIT! Tourists come into town for the big weekends at this time of year. Tuesday is not a high traffic night for tourists. Locals are generally favoring SMU. Sportsbooks tend not to sweat the locals. Sharps did bet SMU at -2.5 in a meaningful way. Some continued at -3.
Sources tell us that underdog interest will definitely show up at +4. That’s a...
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 at 7:00 AM
It’s not exactly MARCH MADNESS, but there are very interesting storylines in play when the last four teams in the NIT go to battle Tuesday Night in Madison Square Garden to see who will play for the tournament championship Thursday Night.
*SMU was the most obvious snub in the NCAA’s…as most computer rankings had they safely into the Big Dance (seemingly EXTREMELY safe). Often, it’s that team that makes a statement in the NIT by running the table. Here, we have the side story of Larry Brown’s return to prominence on the sidelines, and you know how well his teams have performed in the spotlight during his career.
*Clemson and Florida State represent the storied ACC. In fact, they’re the only two teams still playing from the storied ACC! Virginia couldn’t live up to its #1 seed in the Dance. Duke was humiliated by Mercer. Newcomers Pitt and Syracuse couldn’t carry the banner when needed. Clemson and FSU could save a lot of face by...
Monday, March 31, 2014 at 7:00 PM
You know if umpires are yelling “Play Ball,” then WAYNE ALLYN ROOT, the undisputed KING OF UPSETS, is finding underdog plays to attack so he can cash in with those great moneyline payoffs.
What are the keys to finding upsets in April baseball? Here’s what I look for in these first few weeks of action:
*I want to bet against expensive pitchers who struggled during Spring Training. Now, not ALL of them will continue struggling. But, many are still working up to their regular season form…which means many are still overpriced by the market. You already saw that in the early innings of first action Monday afternoon. It’s going to be a common theme this week in pitching debuts, and then throughout April as pitchers work their way back to career norms.
*I want to bet against expansive pitchers who are dealing with injuries. The media has become very aggressive about reporting injuries. And, management has become very good about telling people what’s...
Monday, March 31, 2014 at 4:00 PM
The 2014 Major League Baseball season has begun. As promised, I’m back to outline some general principles for handicapping and betting the bases. I won’t be talking about specific teams or starting pitchers because I have to protect that information for my clients. But, will outline some very important themes that all of you should be applying…particularly to baseball as it’s played in APRIL.
First, you need to remember that this year isn’t last year. Far too many sports bettors just pick up where they left off with their perceptions of teams and starting pitchers. Sure, many of the teams will be playing at similar levels. But, it’s the exceptions that can kill your bankrolls.
*Don’t assume all of last year’s bad teams are going to stay bad. Many made changes in the offseason that will bring them back to respectability (at least). You need to be anticipating what’s going to happen NOW rather than assuming last year is going to...
Monday, March 31, 2014 at 9:40 AM
THE NCAA TOURNAMENT REPORT:
IT’S THE FIRST LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND’S FINAL FOUR
AS FLORIDA, WISCONSIN, UCONN & KENTUCKY
MAKE UP A STAR-STUDDED FIELD …
PLUS THE NIT SEMIS HIT THE GARDEN FLOOR
ON TUESDAY NIGHT AND WE HAVE GAME PREVIEWS …
AND WE ALSO OFFER UP A QUICK-HITTER MLB PREVIEW
FOR THE 2014 SEASON WITH A CALL FOR THE TB RAYS
TO WIN IT ALL!
By Jim Hurley
Go ahead … you can signal for a timeout now!
The NCAA Tournament’s rich history of thrill-a-minute games even outdid itself this past weekend as Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky all squeezed out tight wins against higher-seeded teams (yes, we know Kentucky’s heart-stopping 75-72 triumph over Michigan on Sunday was not an “upset” so don’t get on our case, okay!) while Florida marched on to its 30th consecutive win in businesslike fashion last Saturday versus Dayton and so — following two weeks of epic hoops action — this is...
Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM
We know that “Opening Day” was technically several days ago down in Australia when the Los Angeles Dodgers played the Arizona Diamondbacks. And, that the first Sunday Night game of the new season set the stage for this first big Monday. But, FOR MOST MLB TEAMS, it’s OPENING DAY! That means it’s time to quickly review how the season is projected to play out according to regular season win totals posted in the legal betting markets.
We’ll go division-by-division, starting with the NL East. The numbers you see below reflect a general composite of betting lines from Las Vegas and offshore.
NY Mets 73.5
Washington was supposed to be a juggernaut last year, but fell off the pace just a bit. Many metrics-based approaches are expecting a bounce back in 2014…which makes the Nationals once again a favorite to compete for the league pennant. Their number of 90.5 is only third best...
Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 7:00 AM
We held back awhile from our original planned publication point to give the market more time to settle in. As of early Sunday morning, we have a much better picture of how sharps have been betting Michigan State/Connecticut and Michigan/Kentucky…and what they’re likely to do given anticipated public action.
Let’s take the games in the order of tipoff…
MICHIGAN STATE VS. CONNECTICUT (in New York): Michigan State opened at -5 in the earliest spots, and was quickly bet up by early sharp money to Michigan State -5.5 and then -6. There’s been significant betting interest on UCONN in Las Vegas this week. You may have ready about that elsewhere on the web. We seem to have a mix of sharp and square action making its way from the East Coast in a way that’s scored well so far. That money took UCONN +6, which has dropped the number to a solid 5.5 everywhere as we go to press. In short, differing sharp factions are on Michigan -5 and UCONN +6. If the...
Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Friday Night’s Sweet 16 games were among the most physically demanding, hardfought battles ever showcased in the NCAA Tournament. The survivors must come back less than two days later for afternoon action Sunday to try and qualify for the Final Four.
Game One featuring Connecticut and Michigan State starts at 2:15 p.m ET (11:15 a.m. in Las Vegas), which doesn’t provide much recovery time at all for Michigan State after their war with Virginia. At 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. in Las Vegas), Kentucky will have to take the floor bruised and weary from its intense upset of Louisville when they take on defending national runner-up Michigan.
Let’s run both matchups through the key indicator data we’ve been focusing on through the season in college basketball. Computer rankings are taken from the publicly available numbers posted by college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin.
Computer Rankings-Game One
Connecticut #19 in Pomeroy,...
Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM
The NCAA Tournament gets more challenging every day for bettors but I am pleased to report I went 6-2 against the number in the Sweet 16 round and am now set to conquer the regional championship games making up the Elite Eight. There are two games tonight and I am releasing both of this as 25-unit play and will head for the Final Four after Sunday's 100-unit knockout winner.
Meantime, major league baseball gets its official start Sunday with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the San Diego Padres and will be followed on Sunday with a complete slate of games. You get on board for the entire season and play right through the World Series in October for just $199. (see details below).
On the NBA front tonight, the Philadelphia 76ers (15-57) face the prospect of losing a league record 27 consecutive games when they take the floor at home as a 5.5-point underdog to the less-than-dominate Detroit Pistons (26-46) who are 2-8 in their last 10 games.
Philadelphia tied the record of 26 straight...
Saturday, March 29, 2014 at 7:00 AM
As we go to press, sharps actually haven’t done a lot of betting in the Dayton/Florida and Wisconsin/Arizona games. Openers were bet quickly into their current positions. But, the sharpest of action hasn’t hit yet…or isn’t going to hit because the lines are on the right number. We’ll discuss what are sources are saying about potential Wise Guy moves in each matchup.
DAYTON VS. FLORIDA (in Memphis): This line opened at Florida -10.5 in the earliest shops. Sharps quickly took the dog at that price, resulting in Dayton +10 being the most common number as we go to press. The old school guys like betting double digit dogs. And, a number like 10.5 is very high for an Elite Eight game no matter who’s playing. Sources tell us most Wise Guys had this game Power Rated at Florida -10 because Dayton was so far off the pace entering the Dance. If the public bets the favorite higher, more money would come in on the dog. Best potential we here is a...
Friday, March 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM
It’s no surprise that top-seeded Florida and Arizona will be on the floor Saturday in their respective regionals trying to cinch berths in the Final Four. Will either suffer surprises that derail their dates with destiny? Florida tries to end the party for the last true Cinderella of the 2014 NCAA Tournament when they take on Dayton in Memphis. After that, Arizona will try to outplay and outsmart a Wisconsin team in Anaheim that is clearly a live dog based on recent form and skill sets.
With just two games on the Saturday slate, we’ll run them BOTH through our gauntlet of computer data. We’ll do the same thing for your tomorrow for Elite Eight action in New York and Indianapolis. The numbers you see below come from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin.
Computer Rankings-Game One
Dayton #38 in Pomeroy, #36 in Sagarin
Florida: #1 in Pomeroy, #3 in Sagarin
Dayton and Stanford were the only teams outside of the top 20...
Friday, March 28, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Friday Night’s NCAA Tournament schedule is loaded with big name programs and very serious 2014 championship contenders. We have a #1 seed (Virginia), two teams who many in the markets believed were “true” #1 seeds based on late season performances (Louisville and Michigan State), last year’s runner-up (Michigan), another longtime power loaded with talent (Kentucky), and a few potential Cinderella stories who have gotten hot at the right time (Iowa State, Connecticut, and Tennessee).
How have sharps (professional wagerers) been navigating these tricky waters against the oddsmakers’ opening prices? Let’s take the schedule game by game, starting at Madison Square Garden in New York since the East Region is first up in Nevada sports schedules.
CONNECTICUT VS. IOWA STATE (New York): Iowa State opened at pick-em, and was bet up quickly to Cylones -1.5. This flies in the face of all the media coverage about Connecticut getting to play so close to home....
Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Intensity is always ratcheted up several notches whenever Kentucky plays Louisville. Friday Night brings one of the most important games EVER played in that rivalry when the teams battle for survival in the Sweet 16 round of the Midwest region’s “group of death.
Kentucky knocked out top seed Wichita State last weekend. Louisville is now the favorite to win the region even though they’re just a #4 seed. All computer models have them the favorite to reach the Final Four…and many will have them as the favorite to win the national championship if they get there. Kentucky…usually the giant themselves…would love to play giant-killer again Friday Night in Indianapolis.
You know you’re going to watch. You want to WIN while you watch. Let’s run this dream matchup through JIM HURLEY’S gauntlet of indicators.
Kentucky: #13 in Pomeroy, #15 in Sagarin
Louisville: #3 in Pomeroy, #1 in Sagarin
Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 4:00 PM
According to the computer ratings we’ve been monitoring for you here in the VSM-BLOG the past few weeks, Friday Night promises the most excitement of the Sweet 16 round…and possibly the entire second weekend of 2014 NCAA Tournament action.
Nobody on the card is ranked outside the top 20 according to college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin. And, we have two games matching teams who both qualify as top tens. What a loaded Sweet 16!
Let’s start in New York where Connecticut hopes to make a Cinderella run in front of what will be the equivalent of a home crowd in their “home away from home” of Madison Square Garden. The numbers you see below are computer ratings from the publicly available internet postings of Pomeroy and Sagarin as of publication time. The LIVING LEGENDS here at VEGAS-SPORTS-MASTERS do have their own proprietary ratings systems that they use in their own handicapping. We’re not at liberty to...
Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 11:09 AM
On Friday, it’s …
EAST REGIONAL Madison Square Garden — New York City, NY
#7 CONNECTICUT (28-8) vs. #3 IOWA STATE (28-7) — 7:27 p.m. ET, TBS
Okay, so much is being made of the fact the UConn Huskies are more-or-less playing a “home game” here in the “World’s Most Famous Arena” but our question is if that’s such an advantage then why is Iowa State — a 2-point betting right now — the side that’s been taking the early-week money?
No doubt Connecticut has major mojo on its side following last Saturday’s 77-65 win over 4 ½-point fav Villanova as G Shabazz Napier wowed the good folks in Buffalo with his 25-point performance that included 4-of-8 trifecta hits and how about the fact the Huskies just clamped down on “D” just like the good old days of Jim Calhoun as ‘Nova shot just 18-of-51 from the field (that’s 35.3 percent)?
Now, Kevin Ollie’s club ...
Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 8:48 AM
Okay, you can 'fess up now ... Just how many of these NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 teams did you have still standing in your office pool bracket?
As we pointed out in Monday's edition of Jim Sez, the fact of the matter is nearly two-thirds of the "top seeds" are still here as 10 of the top 16 seeds in this "Big Dance" still have a shot to win it all while there's three double-digit seed teams with hope but, please ESPN, can we not call the likes of #10 seed Stanford and #11 seed Tennessee a couple of "Cinderellas"!
After all, both the Cardinal and Volunteers are power conference teams with great hoop histories and since when do mid-to-upper rung teams in the Pac-12 and SEC get the glass slipper treatment? Silly!
Still, before we delve into the first portion of Sweet 16 game previews come Thursday, let's review what the odds to win it all were prior to the start of this tourney for the still-alive hoop squads:
NCAA TOURNAMENT ODDS TO WIN ALL (as of March 18th)
(Note: All figures...
Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Basketball fans have been blessed with some truly great matchups in the Sweet 16 round. Las Vegas sportsbooks will be jammed both nights with rowdy visitors. But, the intensity will really be cranked up several notches on THURSDAY because ALL THREE PAC 12 TEAMS are in action! That’s Stanford bettors…and the much larger contingents of Arizona and UCLA bettors who will be laying down their cash and rooting for their teams.
Sharps (professional wagerers or “Wise Guys”) have been trying to navigate the complexity of all of that square money hitting the Thursday card. What should sharps do when they agree with the squares? Let’s take a look at how the Wise Guys have been betting so far this week. We’ll come back at the same time tomorrow to evaluate betting for Friday’s second stage of the Sweet 16.
DAYTON VS. STANFORD (in Memphis): Huge betting interest here from sharps, on both the side and the total (particularly the total!). Stanford opened...
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Even though it’s only the Sweet 16 round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, if the Florida Gators are destined to reach the Final Four in Dallas, their toughest preliminary opponent will be the UCLA Bruins. The top-seeded Gators dispatched with Albany and Pittsburgh in workmanlike fashion to reach this weekend’s action in Memphis. If they take care of business Thursday, they’ll face the winner of Stanford (#10 seed) and Dayton (#11 seed).
So, THURSDAY is most likely going to tell us what we need to know about Florida’s chances to run the table and win the national championship. If they impress here…then Saturday’s game should be easy…and the Gators would remain a frontrunner to go the distance. A nailbiter…and you have to wonder how Florida would match up against opponents much more dangerous than UCLA (who will surely be waiting in Dallas). A loss? That’s very possible given how hot UCLA has been in recent weeks, and how meekly...
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Back as promised for the new week of NCAA Tournament action with updated computer ratings to supplement your handicapping analysis. There are several truly great matchups Thursday and Friday (we’ll focus on Thursday in this report, then Friday in about 24 hours). And, the stage is set for some potential classics this weekend.
We’ll start in Memphis so you can make notes in your schedules. The computer rankings you see below come from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin. These are publicly published numbers available to all at their websites. The LIVING LEGENDS here at VEGAS-SPORTS-MASTERS do have their own proprietary rankings which we’re not at liberty to post for free on the BLOG. The guys don’t want oddsmakers to know their numbers! Data from Pomeroy and Sagarin will certainly get you very much in the right ballpark. They’ve been of service to readers here all season.
Dayton (11): #44...
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 11:42 AM
The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals are 6 -1 co-favorites to win the 2014 World Series with the Detroit Tigers in the third spot at 7-1 and the Washington Nationals listed fourth in the odds at 8-1 for the 162-game season that begins Sunday and then kicks into high gear Monday.
Actually the 2014 season began last Saturday when the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks played a double-header on a cricket field in Sydney, Australia, Los Angeles winning both games, the first one 3-1 behind the pitching of ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw and the second 7-5 with Hyun-Jin Ryu the starter.
This, of course, means the Dodgers are already 2-0 and positioned to never look back. My money says they are a standout bet to go the distance and win the World Series in October and it is my recommendation that bettors buy all that 6-1 they can get. This is a team that has the four elements required to win it all - pitching, power at the plate, a front office that is willing to spend the...
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Night two of the NIT quarterfinals features tourney top seed SMU trying to continue its reign of revenge, while Florida State tries to keep the ACC relevant in a postseason marred by disappointments. Those home favorites will be taking on California and Louisiana Tech respectively in a pair of games that will both be televised nationally by ESPN.
Win tonight…and you’re off to New York for next week’s Final Four, joining Tuesday Night’s winners in a Big Apple basketball celebration. As we did in yesterday’s NOTEBOOK, we’re going to preview BOTH matchups with computer information gleaned from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin. We’ll take the games in tipoff order, starting in Tallahassee.
Computer Rankings-Game One
Louisiana Tech: #35 in Pomeroy, #33 in Sagarin
Florida State: #38 in Pomeroy, #40 in Sagarin
Computer Rankings-Game Two
California: #66 in Pomeroy, #56 in Sagarin
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 7:00 PM
The KING OF UPSETS has been looking intently over the card for this week’s Sweet 16 games, deciding whether or not I should make a dramatic call for a shocker Thursday or Friday. And, I’m also wondering if there are any Cinderella stories for teams seeded outside the top four to make a run all the way to Dallas and the Final Four.
*Can Connecticut (#7 in the East) take advantage of playing in New York to take out Iowa State and the winner of Michigan State/Virginia to advance to Dallas. This program has a great history…and you know the city of New York is going to respond to their first taste of the Dance.
*Can Kentucky (#8 in the Midwest) beat Louisville for the second time this season? The brackets have it as an 8-4 match in the seedings…but it’s really more like a 4-1 game. The selection committee did such a bad job this year! But, the Sweet 16 is where #4 plays #1 anyway…so it all came out in the wash. Clearly, Kentucky is playing its best...
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 3:00 PM
I spent some extra time reviewing the boxscores from this past weekend before putting together my notes for handicapping this week’s Sweet 16 games in the NCAA Tournament. I can’t talk specifics of course, because I need to protect my selections for my paying clients. But, I wanted to make sure I was giving students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping information that would apply directly to the games they’ll be analyzing Thursday and Friday…and then obviously through the weekend in the Elite Eight with the teams who survive.
We always start with PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS, plus THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. I’m going to move right on past those. If you haven’t already mastered what’s at stake there, it’s too late for me to help you for this weekend!
Here are the three biggest keys this week in my view:
WHO’S READY FOR THEIR MOMENT?
We’re at a point now where pretenders become deer in the...
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Trips to Madison Square Garden and the NIT Final Four are already on the line Tuesday Night when Belmont visits Clemson at 6 p.m. ET, followed by Southern Miss at Minnesota at 8 p.m. ET. Both matchups will be televised by ESPN, the home network of the NIT.
Belmont is a surprise as the #5 entry in the regional that #1 seed St. John’s had been expected to win. Belmont upset Green Bay in its opener in the 4-5 game, then dispatched with giant-killer Robert Morris to make it here. Clemson’s won home games vs. Georgia State and Illinois, barely surviving a very ugly home game against the Illini this past weekend.
Minnesota is the top seed in its quarter of the draw. The Gophers took out High Point and St. Mary’s to advance. This will be their toughest task by far, as Southern Miss is a good team playing like they care given their road victory at Missouri in the second round (after beating Toledo in their NIT opener).
We’ve decided to cover BOTH matchups for you...
Monday, March 24, 2014 at 1:30 PM
We’ve had a chance to monitor opening line movements caused by the Wise Guys in the three NIT “round of 16” games that will be televised Monday Night by ESPN. You weren’t thinking of taking a night off from basketball were you? The sharps bet every edge they find! Let’s see how they were attacking the three games that basketball lovers will be watching on TV Monday evening.
GEORGETOWN AT FLORIDA STATE: Remember, these games are being played at campus sites rather than on neutral courts. The only neutral NIT games will be the Final Four and Championship action next week at Madison Square Garden in New York. Huge line move on road underdog Georgetown, as an opener of Hoyas +5 has been bet all the way down to Hoyas +3. That’s a bit of a surprise given how poorly the Big East has played this year in the postseason. The league’s two powers…Villanova and Creighton…both lost outright by double digits this past weekend as favorites. The...
Monday, March 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM
HERE’S YOUR FIRST LOOK AT THE SWEET 16 AS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT TAKES A DEEP BREATH AFTER A WILD OPENING WEEKEND
By Jim Hurley
So get a load of this fact:
The NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 won’t include the likes of Kansas, Villanova, Syracuse, Duke and Creighton — all of whom were either #2 or #3 seeds in their particular regions — and there’s no North Carolina, Ohio State nor VCU either and — oh yeah, once-upon-a-time unbeaten Wichita State (35-1) also won’t be there at the “party” in case you hadn’t heard!
Toss into the mix that both “super frosh” Jabari Parker of Duke and Andrew Wiggins of Kansas (although the latter was hardly super in Sunday’s 60-57 loss to Stanford) won’t be getting invitations to the Sweet 16 this time around and so — perhaps — you believe this year’s final 16 tourney teams might be lacking for some major storylines.
Are you kidding us or...
Monday, March 24, 2014 at 7:00 AM
No time to rest! The Big Dance may be taking a brief intermission until the music starts again Thursday. But, the NIT is still going strong with mid-level hopefuls trying to earn a ticket to the Final Four in Madison Square Garden in New York next week.
Chief among them is overall NIT top seed Southern Methodist, who plays their second game of the tournament Monday Night at home against LSU. SMU had a relatively easy time with Cal-Irvine in their tune-up. LSU had to win on the road at San Francisco to keep their hopes alive for a deep run. There are actually THREE games on the Monday NIT ticket (this plus Georgetown at Florida State and Arkansas at California). SMU’s “revenge” for their Dance snub is still the biggest story in the NIT until the Mustangs lose…so we picked Metroplex Madness for tonight’s showcase spotlight here in the NOTEBOOK.
Let’s run the matchup through our gauntlet of indicators…
LSU: #55 in...
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 7:00 PM
An exhilarating weekend of NCAA Tournament action may have come to an end. But, a NEW week of hardwood highlights will be created starting Monday Night in the NIT. Two top seeds are in action, as both Florida State and SMU try to win home games that would push them closer to the Final Four in New York. A third game, involving Arkansas and California, will launch the next obstacle in SMU’s way.
Let’s see how the computer rankings from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin rate the teams who will be in action tonight. We’ll go in tip-off order for the trio of games that will all be nationally televised by ESPN.
GEORGETOWN AT FLORIDA STATE
Georgetown (4): #59 in Pomeroy, #51 in Sagarin
Florida State (1): # 38 in Pomeroy, #43 in Sagarin
Florida State is hoping to carry the ACC banner further into the postseason. Duke and Syracuse were both supposed to reach the Sweet 16 of the Big Dance, but they suffered...
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 7:00 AM
One minute, the Arizona Wildcats look like the best team in the country, a clear frontrunner to go the distance in this year’s NCAA Tournament. But, with little warning, they seem to shrink into just another team that has to hope they catch some breaks if they’re going to cut down the nets in Dallas.
You saw that last weekend when Arizona stormed into the Pac 12 finals, only to lose to UCLA when a short rotation ran out of gas against a hot team peaking at the right time. Then, with several days to get ready, Arizona was largely unimpressive in their Dance opener against #16 seed Weber State. They weren’t threatened. But, they weren’t particularly scary either.
Arizona did catch a break when erratic but dangerous Oklahoma State was dispatched from their bracket by Gonzaga. And, their Sweet 16 opponent won’t be particularly intimidating based on most indicators. But, does this team really have what it takes to go the distance? Let’s see what we...
Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 7:00 PM
The Sweet 16 is already taking shape. Everyone who won Saturday is waiting to find out who their opponent will be based on Sunday’s results. The sharps are already preparing to hit those opening Sweet 16 lines when they go up Sunday Night. Let’s see how the Wise Guys were betting in the eight games comprising a stellar Sunday schedule.
TENNESSEE vs MERCER (in Raleigh): Sharps believe in Mercer! An opener of Tennessee -9 has been bet down to Mercer +8 or +7.5. It’s telling that the Wise Guys didn’t wait to see if the public was going to take the favorite. We’re hearing that sharps were impressed with the talent level of Mercer…and they think that conference is once again underrated by oddsmakers. The Over/Under opened at 127.5, and has been bet up to 130. That’s also a big move from the math guys in both size and direction. Most totals have been going down rather than up this week. Big action in this first game in Raleigh.
Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM
You weren’t expecting to see Mercer…or Stephen F. Austin, but most of the dangerous teams projected for Sunday action managed to reach the weekend. That’s set up a fantastic card highlighted by Wichita State/Kentucky and a few potential thrillers whose impact will linger deep into next weekend.
Let’s take a look at how college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today Computer whiz Jeff Sagarin had these teams rated entering weekend action. These are publicly available numbers that have served readers well for indicator purposes all season. Note that the experts here at VEGAS-SPORTS-MASTERS compile their own proprietary ratings from their own unique perspectives that generally aren’t made available to the public to protect line value for our clients.
We’ll take the games in market rotation order, starting in Raleigh…where Duke was SUPPOSED to be playing. Instead, the Blue Devils will be like the rest of us, watching the games on TV....
Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 1:52 PM
By Jim Hurley:
Hey, don’t despair just ‘cause your NCAA Tournament brackets were wrecked days ago … there’s still plenty of reasons to watch what’s on tap for this Sunday schedule that includes the likes of Mercer and Stephen F. Austin (but just not Duke and VCU).
In fact, dig a little deeper into this Sunday card that features #1 seeds Virginia, Wichita State and Arizona and it’s a type of hoops heaven that finishes off the first full week of this year’s tourney.
Now let’s go through the NCAA Tournament here for third-round action …
ST. LOUIS – MIDWEST REGION:
#8 KENTUCKY (25-10) vs. #1 WICHITA STATE (35-0) – approximately 2:45 p.m. ET, CBS
We’ll see following today’s action whether anyone’s singing “nobody’s perfect” but right here/right now the only unbeaten team in this year’s tourney surely has its collective game face on as evidenced by...
Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 1:37 PM
When Wichita State takes on Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, the 35-0 Shockers—the only college basketball team in history to be undefeated after that many games—will, win or lose, still be stigmatized and disrespected because it is a “mid-major” that obviously just got lucky to get here.
Yes, the Shockers have put their name in the history books at 35-0.
Yes, the Shockers went to the NCAA Final Four last season, where they lost by four points to a Louisville team that went on to win the national championship.
Yes, the Shockers won the NIT the season before.
But, really fans, that means little. This team from Wichita, Kansas, is a “mid-major” and that means they will never be good enough to be mentioned in the same sentence with “majors” such as Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Duke or Oklahoma.
Legions of critics say the Shockers are not as good as their performances over the past three seasons—especially this...
Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 7:00 AM
It’s no longer a Big East rivalry, because Connecticut fled this season to the American Athletic Conference. But, the Villanova Wildcats and UCONN Huskies know a lot about each other and the importance of carrying their banners deep into the NCAA Tournament. This storied matchup will highlight evening TV coverage of Saturday action…making it the obvious choice to run through our gauntlet of indicators.
You’re going to watch…you want to win while you watch! Let’s see what the numbers say…
Connecticut: #25 in Pomeroy, #25 in Sagarin
Villanova: #7 in Pomeroy, #5 in Sagarin
College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin are in virtual lockstep here. Both agree with the selection committee that Villanova is a #2 seed. Both have Connecticut as a #7 seed, which is where they were slotted in the brackets were announced. Of course, the computers didn’t have UCONN dead even with St....
Friday, March 21, 2014 at 9:00 PM
Saturday’s Big Dance slate could prove very challenging for handicappers. Four of today’s teams are coming off overtime thrillers that may have zapped their legs and their stamina. A few of today’s favorites were much shakier than expected in what were supposed to be cakewalks. And, this is a day that’s already well-known for seeing EXTREME results ranging from tournament favorites getting shocked to Cinderella’s getting sent home in their letdown spots.
Let’s see how the Wise Guys have been betting the sides and totals thus far on this fascinating day. We’ll go in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules.
SYRACUSE VS. DAYTON (in Buffalo): Syracuse opened at -7, reflective of the respect this team has earned in recent Big Dances. First look opponents often have trouble dealing with their zone. Some sharps saw that as too steep…which has led some stores to drop the line to -6.5. The public is likely to bet the big...
Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Back as promised with updated computer ratings for Saturday’s NCAA Tournament action. In earlier reports we were using rankings as posted publicly last Monday before the NCAA and NIT started. Friday afternoon we grabbed updated numbers that had been influenced by midweek results…including the interconnectedness of how conferences perform and influence strength of schedule.
What you see below were publicly available computer rankings posted by college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin Friday morning before the second day of action had begun.
We’re going to take the games in schedule rotation order rather than tip-off order because we know many of you like to make notes in your schedule. That means we start in Buffalo even though the powers-that-be have slated those games for later tip-offs to maximize TV ratings.
Dayton (11): #47 in Pomeroy, #51 in Sagarin
Syracuse (3): #12 in Pomeroy, #16 in Sagarin
Friday, March 21, 2014 at 12:18 PM
HERE’S THE SATURDAY “DANCE CARD”
AS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT BOPS ITS WAY INTO THIRD-ROUND ACTION AND WE BRING YOU THREE OF THE MUST-SEE GAME PREVIEWS
Okay, so not everyone that won an NCAA Tournament second-round this past Thursday had to go overtime to get “mission accomplished” but it sure seemed that way, right?
A single-day, tourney-record four games went into OT Thursday with Connecticut, Saint Louis, North Dakota State and San Diego State all have their own “war stories” as to just how they copped second-round overtime wins and what about the fact the likes of Dayton, Louisville and Texas had to experience high-wire acts wins just to survive-and-advance here into these Saturday showdowns?
In case you were wondering, the Thursday games featured a dead-even split of favorites vs. underdogs as the 16 NCAA Tournament games went this way:
Seven favorites covered, seven dogs covered and there were a pair of pushes and no doubt...
Friday, March 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Time to review the fourth and final session for what’s been a very exciting “Round of 64” in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Friday Night’s games may not match the thrills of Thursday Night’s games. That’s okay for gamblers who like blowout covers! Let’s see how the Wise Guys have been betting night time action in Raleigh, St. Louis, San Antonio, and San Diego.
GEORGE WASHINGTON VS. MEMPHIS (in Raleigh): Not much betting interest here. Memphis opened at -3 and has stood pat for the most part. We’re hearing sharps wanted to see other teams from these conferences (A10 and American Athletic) in action before finalizing opinions. If you see a big game day move, it could be the result of what they learned. The math guys did hit the total, as an opener of 144 is down to 142.
COASTAL CAROLINA VS. VIRGINIA (in Raleigh): Sharps took an early position on Virginia at -21.5 because Coastal Carolina had the worst computer ratings of any team not forced...
Friday, March 21, 2014 at 10:30 AM
It’s going to be hard for Friday Night to top Thursday Night in terms of pure drama. The computers didn’t exactly “predict” all that drama…which means even the most comprehensive analytics in the public domain aren’t as sharp as the best handicappers. Sharp handicappers are always aware of what the computers are showing though…which is why we’ve gathered the numbers for this final session of “Round of 64” action.
A quick reminder…all the numbers you see below from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin are from ratings grabbed right when the college tournaments ended. We wanted a pure look at where everybody stood entering the NCAA and NIT events. In other words, we didn’t want midweek results muddying up the waters before some teams got a chance to play.
G. Washington: #46 in Pomeroy, #48 in Sagarin
Memphis: #45 in Pomeroy, #40 in Sagarin
Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:00 AM
When the NCAA Tournament brackets were announced late last Sunday afternoon, it was very clear that something special was brewing in the Midwest regional. #1 Wichita State was grouped in what projected to be a Sweet 16 “Group of Death” with defending national champion Louisville, defending runner-up Michigan, and perennial power Duke. And, oh…by the way…they might have to beat perennial power Kentucky just to get to the Sweet 16 slasher movie!
The previews for those special attractions begin Friday Night. Wichita State is a heavy favorite to dispatch with #16 seed Cal Poly. That will be followed by the #8-9 game matching Kentucky and Kansas State. Can Kentucky survive Friday Night for their shot at Wichita State…and possibly even bigger headlines down the road? Let’s run the most anticipated matchup of Friday Night through our indicator gauntlet.
Kentucky: #17 in Pomeroy, #18 in Sagarin
Kansas State: #44 in Pomeroy,...
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Wise Guy betting action on the first day of the Dance was largely about position-taking in front of an onslaught of public money. Many lines moved toward the favorite and stayed there, even in the hours before tipoff when sharp dog bettors took the best prices they were going to see. In Friday afternoon action, that tendency has been much more underplayed (or non-existent). The public was so focused on that they weren’t betting Friday yet. And, sharps weren’t all that confident that the squares would hit this collection of favorites with the same intensity.
Let’s go site-by-site and see how professional bettors have been investing so far…
MERCER VS. DUKE (in Raleigh): An opener of Duke -12.5 has basically stood pat. Some places were experimenting with -13 just to see if it would trigger any response. Duke lovers have been burned in past tournaments in early games. And, of course, Duke backers went 0-3 against the spread last week in the ACC tournament....
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Some computer programmers were as surprised as anybody at some of the results in the early session of the opening day of NCAA Tournament action. Ohio State and Cincinnati sent home. Florida tied with Albany in the second half (!!). Let’s see how the two most famous computer analysts had teams ranked entering the Big Dance. We’ve been studying the numbers from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin all season long. We’ll continue to monitor their Power Ratings and rankings through the college postseason.
Mercer: #99 in Pomeroy, #93 in Sagarin
Duke: #7 in Pomeroy, #7 in Sagarin
Vegas Line: Duke by 13, total of 140.5
Duke is seen as an Elite Eight caliber team by both methodologies even though they’re a #3 seed. We should point that Duke is typically overrated by the computers every March! Jim Hurley’s been showing you this in his Notebook for many years. They shouldn’t have too much trouble...
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 1:00 PM
HERE’S MORE NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME PREVIEWS AS WE CHECK ON FRIDAY’S ACTION
PLUS THERE’S KEY NEWS & NOTES TOO!
By Jim Hurley
Okay, so this year’s NCAA Tournament is officially in “high gear” and one of the truly big questions to be answered is who’s gonna be this year’s so-called Cinderella?
Hey, everyone is well aware of the fact that 34-and-oh Wichita State is one of the tourney’s No. 1 seeds, but remember last year when the Shockers literally came out of nowhere to beat the likes of Gonzaga, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and LaSalle?
A couple of double-digit tourney seeds that swing into play on this first full day of spring are #13 seed Tulsa and #11 seed Providence and they’re both worth your attention as is #11 Tennessee who squashed Iowa in OT in Wednesday’s last of the “First Four” games in Dayton:
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane copped last weekend’s Conference USA Tournament, and...
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 12:35 PM
100-Unit NCAA Blowout Highlights 4-0 Thursday As NCAA Officially Gets Underway
It’s Win Or Go Home Time As March To NCAA
Championship Begins And Survivors Will Be Teams
With Talent Or Those Who Are Oblivious To The Task
My Final Four—Florida, Wichita State, Virginia, Wisconsin... and Five Reasons Why
By Kelso Sturgeon
The NCAA Tournament to determine college basketball’s national championship officially gets underway today with the 64 participating teams living with the pressure of having to win every game to advance. It’s the reality of one-and-done, as in lose one game and go home. My projected Final Four –Florida, Wichita State, Wisconsin and Virginia.
Why these four—because they have all the requirements to go the distance.
Each plays tremendous defense, with Virginia ranked #1 of 345 teams while giving up an average of 55.3 points per game. Florida is ranked third (57.9 points), Wichita State 11th (59.6) and...
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 11:15 AM
Our sharp reports continue now with a look at how the Wise Guys have been betting the eight games set for Thursday Night action in the NCAA Tournament. If you’re reading this during the day…and you missed our study of the early session, please check that out before any more games start!
As was the case in that first report, we have many games that shifted slightly toward the favorite as sharps either get in early for their own preference or take position with the intent of coming back over the top for a bigger bet on the dog at the best price before tipoff. Be sure you watch lines moves throughout the day for a better sense of the evening dynamics. The public may move some public teams significantly. Sharps are hoping that’s the case because many of the TV teams are overrated in their view.
We’ll go site-by-site in schedule order, going in order of starting times at each location.
ST. JOSEPH’S VS. CONNECTICUT (in Buffalo): Connecticut opened at -4,...
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM
You’ve already read through the computer ratings for the eight games in the early Thursday session. Let’s run the numbers from college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagrin for the evening octagon. Note that these ratings were taken Monday before the smaller tournaments began so we could have “pre-tournament” numbers for everyone in the NIT and NCAA’s.
We start in Buffalo as we move to prime time.
St. Joseph’s (10): #49 in Pomeroy, #56 in Sagarin
Connecticut (7): #25 in Pomeroy, #24 in Sagarin
Vegas Line: Connecticut by 5, total of 130.5
The computers both thought St. Joe’s got too much respect in the seeding. Pomeroy would have had them as a #12 or #13, while Sagarin wouldn’t have had them as tournament caliber. Of course, St. Joe’s won the Atlantic 10 tournament, so they earned an auto-bid. Connecticut is seen as the classier side by the computers and the market....
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM
500-Unit 4-Day NCAA Tournament Run Begins Thursday With 100-Unit Blowout
By Kelso Sturgeon
The NCAA Tournament selection committee has a complicated and thankless job to seed the 68 teams that will compete in the Big Dance and then put together the four regional tournaments that will eventually produce college basketball’s national champion. All reports to the contrary, they do it reasonably well.
Complain all you want and tell the world just how badly your favorite team got screwed but the reality for bettors is that we must play the hand we were dealt.
The committee did some outrageous things, as they always do, and there was no bigger mistake than making defending champion Louisville (29-5) a #4 seed when they should have been a #1 and there is no doubt these gentleman gave undefeated Wichita State (34-0), a Final Four team last year, the business.
Louisville was American Athletic Conference co-champion with Cincinnati (both finished 15-3 in AAC play), went...
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Vegas oddsmakers say the most competitive Thursday matchup in NCAA Tournament action will be the #7-10 meeting between the Texas Longhorns and the Arizona State Sun Devils. At their best, either team could upset Michigan in a “Round of 32” meeting Saturday in Milwaukee. At their worst, neither team may deserve to be in the tournament!
Texas had some great results this season. But, most of those came at home. And, not much has happened recently to suggest Texas is a true Cinderella. They were uncompetitive with Baylor last weekend in Kansas City…continuing a recent trend that had them underachieving expectations in fairly dramatic fashion away from home.
Arizona State was a #3 seed in the Pac 12 tournament. They couldn’t even win their first game against #6 Stanford. And, the market was so down on ASU that the Sun Devils were actually a small underdog in that game played right in Las Vegas.
The respected computers we’ve been using in game previews all...
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 9:00 PM
If you were a regular reader with us during the NFL season, or through the many years we’ve been evaluating sharp action here at Vegas-Sports-Masters, you know that one of the basic fundamentals of reading the market involves the following:
*Squares (the public) bet on favorites, but aren't very quick about getting to a sportsbook for the opener
*Sharps who like a favorite bet EARLY
*Sharps who prefer the dog bet LATE
This isn’t always true…but it’s true most of the time. Occasionally a line is so bad that an underdog gets pounded by sharps immediately. Generally…when the public is involved, lines will rise at first because underdog money is waiting for the apex. This is important here in TODAY'S first MARCH MADNESS report because early betting action moved ALL EIGHT early session games higher!
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that this means the Wise Guys love all the favorites. Wise Guys who love all the dogs are waiting until Thursday...
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Earlier this week we ran the computer ratings for teams going to battle in the NIT tournament. We’ve now scheduled session-by-session recaps for the NCAA Tournament that you can use for handicapping each and every game.
As always, the numbers come from the publicly available reports posted by college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin. We grabbed the computer rankings Monday before NIT action had begun so everyone was on equal footing in terms of the calendar. Vegas lines were current as of publication time.
Dayton (11): #53 in Pomeroy, #58 in Sagarin
Ohio State (6): #19 in Pomeroy, #14 in Sagarin
Vegas Line: Ohio State by 6, total of 131.5
The computers rate Ohio State as much better than a #6 seed. The market seems to agree, with a pointspread that is in line with the computer ratings. You probably saw how excited Dayton was during the announcement show when they found out they were going to be playing Ohio State. Huge...
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Earlier this week, I talked about keys for handicapping the NIT. As promised, I’m back to go more in-depth for those of you trying to pick winners this weekend in the Round of 64 and Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. The volume of games and the high level of electricity in local sportsbooks makes this the most exciting sports betting weekend of the entire calendar year in my view. It’s even more exciting if you’re making big money!
I won’t re-explain the two main categories that are usually present in my how-to articles. You regulars already know the importance of PLAYMAKERS AND GAMEBREAKERS. If this is your first time visiting the website, be aware that I believe successful handicapping starts with isolating the players who are most likely to win bets for you. More talented teams get the money. Find the talent and support it. You also know the importance of THE MOTIVATION FACTOR. Nobody really lacks motivation in the Big Dance. But, you can definitely find...
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM
It’s been incredible listening to “expert” analysis of the NCAA Tournament these past few days. We have two clear dynamics in play…but they’re complete polar opposites of each other. Do the TV pundits even here what’s coming out of their own mouths?
*Everyone’s talking about how talented and deep the tournament is with high quality teams.
*Everyone’s picking Louisville, Florida, Arizona, and Michigan State to win their regionals.
If the tournament is deep, how could the same four teams be such locks to advance to Dallas for the Final Four? The truth is, they couldn’t be. You would expect at least one of those to make it that far. But, the reality of how “odds” work is that “the field” is favored over Florida in its region….just as “the field” is favored over Michigan State in its region. This is a deep tournament, and upsets are going to be a common occurrence.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Las Vegas sharps (professional wagerers) were generally happy with the first night of the NIT. Winning underdogs like Robert Morris and Florida-Gulf Coast covered easily. The night did end with a downer on Utah at St. Mary’s. And, over in the NCAA’s, many sharps took a big hit on Xavier, who came nowhere near expectations in its loss to NC State.
Wednesday’s slate is similar to Tuesday’s in shape and potential. Let’s start in Dayton with the two play-in games in the NCAA Tournament…
NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES IN DAYTON
CAL-POLY VS. TEXAS SOUTHERN: The Californians opened at -3.5 off their impressive run through the Big West tournament, and have been bet up to -4. Even though Poly has a losing record for the season (rare for a Dance team), they have been in good form of late against non-power opponents. We haven’t seen a buy-back yet on Texas Southern at the four. Doesn’t seem to be a game of interest for most sharps. Those who...
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 10:51 AM
If You Weren't With Jim Hurley During the Conference Tourneys, You Missed a 17-1 Run Since Thursday
And We're Just Getting Started! Sign Up For The March Madness Program Today!
It’s become painfully obvious – even before they toss up the first jump ball on this fun-filled Thursday card in the NCAA Tournament – that the committee folks have a whole lot of folks breathing fire these days not the least of which is a fourth-seeded Louisville crew that swings into action on Thursday night versus double-digit dog Manhattan.
Hope you read the article this week stating the ‘Ville will be a betting favorite for any/all of its tourney games it plays this year … not what one generally hears about a #4 seed, right?
Throw into the mix the fact that SMU didn’t make the “Big Dance” even though the Mustangs were a Top 25 team in last week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll (and that simply never happens, folks) and so we’ll never know...
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Okay…you’ve had heard the first music from the 2014 Big Dance…and now it’s time to start thinking about night two of action from Dayton. We have another play-in doubleheader to handicap. But, this one features a pair of teams that the computers are actually in love with. The bad seeding job this year by the selection committee has created the best play-in game ever!
We’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s start in chronological order with the battle of #16 seeds hoping to advance to face Wichita State Friday in St. Louis.
6:40 p.m. ET: Cal-Poly-SLO vs. Texas Southern
Vegas Line: Cal-Poly by 4, total of 130
By all accounts, Texas Southern is the worst team in the tournament this year. That’s why they’re an underdog of this size against another #16 entry. And, Cal Poly had a losing record this year!
Cal-Poly-SLO: #173 in Pomeroy, #174 in Sagarin
TX Southern: #237 in Pomeroy, #253 in...
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 1:30 PM
With both the NCAA and NIT getting underway Tuesday Night, we decided to jump in early with our look at how sharps (professional bettors, or “Wise Guys”) in Las Vegas are betting postseason basketball. We’ll have another report Wednesday for these same two tournaments. Then, in-depth Big Dance coverage will run Thursday through the weekend for the most important betting days of the college basketball season.
Let’s start in Dayton with the two play-in games in the NCAA Tournament…
NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES IN DAYTON
MT. ST. MARY’S VS. ALBANY: Albany opened at -3, but has been bet down to Mt. St. Mary’s +2.5 by sharps who think the favorite was getting a bit too much respect. The line has been fairly solid at the two-and-a-half though…which means that we’re talking about “value” sentiment at +3 rather than passion about a straight up victory for the dog. Sharps weren’t betting the dog...
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Many of you carefully read our conference tournament previews last week that showed the major computer ratings for all teams involved. We’ve put together a listing for the 32 teams in the NIT. And, we’ve arranged those by bracket quadrant so you can project out the tournament and make notes in your schedule.
Here are the publicly available computer ratings as posted by college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin.
SMU’s Section: Computer Rankings by Seed
1…SMU: #32 in Pomeroy, #32 in Sagarin
2…California: #73 in Pomeroy, #63 in Sagarin
3…Arkansas: #58 in Pomeroy, #41 in Sagarin
4…San Francisco: #81 in Pomeroy, #80 in Sagarin
5…LSU: #69 in Pomeroy, #64 in Sagarin
6…Indiana State: #104 in Pomeroy, #110 in Sagarin
7…Utah Valley: #198 in Pomeroy, #203 in Sagarin
8…Cal Irvine: #86 in Pomeroy, #95 in Sagarin
Looks like Cal-Irvine got hosed because ESPN wanted a...