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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 12:00 AM

 

WOW! WHATTA SPORTS DAY AS

MLB 2019 SEASON OFFICIALLY OPENS UP

PLUS, IT’S NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET 16 ACTION TOO

 

There are some days on the country’s sports calendar that deserve your extra-special attention … today, Thursday, March 28th, is surely one of ‘em:

Heck, it’s the “real” Opening Day in Major-League Baseball with 15 big tilts on the docket including a marquee matchup series right outta the starting gate between the defending National League East Division champion Atlanta Braves at the Bryce Harper-led Philadelphia Phillies plus there’s the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 with four monster games on the menu this evening with #1 seeds Virginia and Gonzaga headlining the sites in Louisville and Anaheim, respectively.

So, no reason to dilly-dally here, let’s get right to it with our MLB 2019 Predictions along with the Win-it-All-Odds too:

 

MLB 2019

THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

No surprise that the two-time defending NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers are the betting favorites to get back to the Fall Classic but is LA gonna be the first team since the 1913 New York Giants to lose back-to-back-to-back World Series? No doubt they’ll need close to 30 starts from currently sidelined LHP Clayton Kershaw to snag yet another NL West crown while the Chicago Cubs figure to be in rebound mode getting beaten in last year’s NL Wild Card Game … where did the Cubbies’ down-the-stretch offense ever go? Okay, so the addition of Harper to the Phillies and 3B/SS Manny Machado to San Diego adds intrigue in the senior circuit but we say watch out for the pitching-rich New York Mets who could be a 90-win team this year.

 

NL Cy Young … Zack Greinke, Arizona

NL MVP … Freddie Freeman, Atlanta

NL Manager of the Year … Dave Martinez, Washington

NL Division Winners … Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Cards … New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals

NL Championship Series … Cubs over Dodgers in 6

 

THE AMERICAN LEAGUE

Last year there were three – count ‘em, three – AL teams that won 100-or-more games and don’t at all be shocked if Boston (108), Houston (103) and the New York Yankees match (or even exceed) those figures here in 2019. The question is will Cleveland – in the most woeful of all MLB divisions – crack the 100-win mark behind key starters Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer? Gut feeling is Houston will wind up with home-field advantage this post-season (call it a 109-win season for these ‘Stros) with righties Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole each snatching up 20-win campaigns. One other fearless forecast: The battle for league MVP will be hellacious with our choice – yes, a real chalky pick in Angels’ OF Mike Trout – edging out the likes of Yankees’ OF Aaron Judge and Astros SS Carlos Correia.

 

AL Cy Young … Corey Kluber, Cleveland

AL MVP … Mike Trout, LA Angels

AL Manager of the Year … Brad Ausmus, LA Angels

AL Division Winners … Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros

AL Wild Cards … Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees

AL Championship Series … Astros over Indians in 5

 

World Series … Astros over Cubs in 6 games

 

MLB ODDS TO WIN IT ALL –

 

TEAM                             ODDS BASED ON $100

Boston                                           + 550

New York Yankees                       + 600

Houston                                         + 600

Los Angeles Dodgers                   + 700

Chicago Cubs                                + 1000

Philadelphia                                  + 1000

Atlanta                                           + 1200

Cleveland                                       + 1200

Milwaukee                                    + 1200

St. Louis                                         + 1400

Washington                                  + 1600

Colorado                                        + 2200

New York Mets                            + 2200

Oakland                                         + 2500

Tampa Bay                                    + 3500

Arizona                                          + 4500

Los Angeles Angels                      + 4500

Minnesota                                     + 5000

San Diego                                      + 5000

Seattle                                            + 5000

Chicago White Sox                       + 6500

Pittsburgh                                     + 6600

Cincinnati                                      + 8000

San Francisco                                + 8000

Toronto                                          + 8000

Detroit                                           + 2000

Texas                                              + 20000

Kansas City                                    + 25000

Miami                                            + 25000

Baltimore                                      + 30000

 

A reminder …

Folks, don’t miss out as we bring you all the winners in this year’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and Elite 8 this week/ weekend along with all the other College Basketball Tournies plus get all the daily/nightly NBA and Major-League Baseball action and the Alliance of American Football too as Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep ripping it up -- just check it out right here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.  Make sure you’re all aboard for all the “March Madness” winners!

 

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT – SWEET 16

Here’s quick-hitter previews on all four of Thursday night’s games:

 

SOUTH – at Louisville, KY

#3 PURDUE (25-9) vs. #2 TENNESSEE (31-5) – 7:29 p.m. ET, TBS

Put it this way: If you’ve bet on Purdue and against Tennessee so far in this man’s tournament, then you’re a glittering 4-an-oh against Mr. Vig! The Boilermakers – who’ve actually covered five of their last seven games dating back to late February – have been beaten in the Sweet 16 each of the past two seasons (Texas Tech KO’ed last spring) and can’t reasonably believe G Carsen Edwards can go off for another 42-point game as was the case against Villanova last Saturday night. If the Big 10 crew, however, can get a 20-point/10-board type game from 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms then Matt Painter’s guys – finally – can overcome the Sweet 16 blues. Tennessee somehow survived blowing a 25-point lead against Iowa last Sunday and F Grant Williams (six OT points) has to take 20-plus shots here. Spread Note … Purdue is 19-14-1 ATS (against the spread) this season.

 

#12 OREGON (25-12) vs. #1 VIRGINIA (31-3) – approximately 9:59 p.m. ET, TBS

Go all the way back to Feb. 28th and you’ll see these double-digit seeded Oregon Ducks are 10-0 both SU (straight-up) and ATS … yet Dana Altman’s club has not been taking the money here in this Sweet 16 matchup against numero uno seed Virginia (the Cavs are favored by 8.5 points at last check, up from 7.5 points) and truth is this ACC crew has notched spread wins in seven of its last 10 games. If the Wahoos’ always-stingy defense can get the wraps on Oregon PG Payton Pritchard (13 ppg / 4.6 apg) and Virginia can avoid lengthy scoring droughts, then Tony Bennett’s guys will inch closer to the big prize but we say G Kyle Guy (0-for-10 three-point shooting against Oklahoma last round) better wake up sooner than later. Spread Note … Virginia is 24-10 ATS this season.

 

WEST – at Anaheim, CA

#4 FLORIDA STATE (29-7) vs. #1 GONZAGA (32-3) – 7:09 p.m. ET, CBS

Last year’s 75-60 Sweet 16 win by Florida State over Gonzaga has stuck in the Bulldogs’ proverbial craw for a year now … so what are the ‘Zags gonna do about it? Well, Mark Few’s crew this time around sports a healthy Killian Tillie (missed last year’s showdown) and former San Jose State transfer Brandon Clarke who drained 15-of-18 FG tries last weekend en route to an 83-71 non-cover win against Baylor. If Clarke / Tillie can hit some perimeter jumpers and steer Florida State’s big men outside to defend, then the land could be free-and-clear for Gonzaga’s guards to drive to the hoop. Hey, we know the Seminoles run 10-deep but foul woes still could be a bummer here. Spread Note … Gonzaga is 22-13 vig-wise this 2018-19 campaign.

 

#3 TEXAS TECH (28-6) vs. #2 MICHIGAN (30-6) — approximately 9:39 p.m. ET, CBS

Okay, so these powerhouse squads zoom into Sweet 16 action a combined 15-5 against the Las Vegas prices in their last 20 games … that’s hot stuff! But Michigan’s the slightest of favs here – laying 1.5 points at last glance – after scoring wins/cover against Montana and Florida in this year’s NCAA Tournament while holding those folks to 55 and 49 points, respectively. The Wolverines’ strangulating defense has been well-documented this year but what about Texas Tech? The Red Raiders held fellow NCAA Tourney opponents Northern Kentucky and Buffalo to 37 percent shooting from the floor and Tech star Jarrett Culver (22.5 ppg through first two rounds) could be the one guy who gets hot and stays hot here. Spread Notes … Michigan has covered five of its last six games when in the favorite’s role.

 

NCAA TOURNAMENT POINTSPREAD BREAKDOWN CHART

Here’s a pointspread look at the conferences / leagues still alive in this year’s NCAA Tournament as we head into Sweet 16 action:

 

CONF/LEAGUE                      WON              LOST               TIED                PCT

Big 10                                     10                   5                      0                        .667

American Athletic                4                      2                      0                        .667

Pac-12                                    4                      2                      0                      .667

Big 12                                     6                      4                      0                      .600

ACC                                         4                      8                      0                      .333

SEC                                          4                      8                      0                      .333

West Coast                            1                      2                      0                      .333

 

NOTE: We’ve got NCAA Basketball coverage all this weekend right here at Jim Sez – so don’t miss out and make sure you’re rollin’ up all the winners at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com

 

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