Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday Morning Recap

For my money, college basketball is the best sport to watch if you're a gambler. Even now, more than three months from the most exciting tournament in sports, there is excitement all over the place. In Maryland's first B1G game ever, they took powerhouse Michigan State to two overtimes - and the game was in Michigan! Florida collapsed against Florida State, and I didn't even realize there were bowl games except for the ESPN Bottom Line (Georgia was easy money though, and I can't believe we missed it).

To the picks that we did actually make:

Ohio State -7.5 over Iowa 
Iowa won 71-65, so this was an early loss. Ohio State was 6-24 from three point range, including 1-8 from D'Angelo Russell. When you couple that with Iowa's 37-29 advantage on the boards, Ohio State really had no chance to cover. If they played again tonight, I'd take the Buckeyes again, but this was just a bad night in Columbus.

Virginia -16.5 over Davidson
Virginia won 83-72, and so we lost another one. They started really slow, trailed by 10 at one point, and were down 4 at halftime. They won the second half by 15, but it just wasn't enough (especially because the players weren't really playing to cover the spread).

West Virginia -8.5 over Virginia Tech (as part of a teaser)
This was Va Tech's first game against a real team, and it's nice to know going forward that they STANK. This game was a clinic. WVU won in field goal/three point/free throw percentages (and shots taken in all categories), rebounds 36-22, assists 21-9, steals 16-7, and turnovers forced 25-17. Easy cover.

Illinois +10.5 over Michigan (teased)
Towards the end of regulation, I was getting upset that we didn't just take Illinois +2.5 on its own. But then the game went into overtime, where Michigan outscored them 14-6 to win 73-65. Tease life pays off sometimes.

Maryland +14.5 over Michigan State (teased)
UMD won 68-66 in 2OT. If you listened to my advice and took the Maryland moneyline, you got rich. If you did what we did and teased, then you covered by two touchdowns and two extra points. Michigan State has a few good players, but Maryland just seems like they're better. Dez Wells is a BEAST and those huge white Euroballers seem to be doing well enough.

So we hit that teaser, which was nice (we basically covered the first two losses because we put double on the teaser).

Our late teaser, which I neglected to post, was Florida -3 and Kansas -10.5. Kansas was no issue, but Florida lost outright to Florida State. As I sat in my living room drinking beer from a Florida State pint glass, I just kind of shook my head. Gambling is the worst.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon College Hoops Picks

Between today and tomorrow, there are 19 games that feature teams in the top 25. Sadly, none of them feature two ranked teams against each other, but that doesn't mean they won't be a great couple days of hoops.

One of the best parts of this "holiday" season is daytime games - today, for example, we have major conference basketball games from noon until the wee hours of the morning. Here's part one, your viewing and betting guide for this afternoon, 24-style:

Noon: Northwestern @ Rutgers
Line: Rutgers -3

They hit this line on the head. I think Rutgers is a little bit better, and I'd take them to cover simply because they're at home and a lot of their student section is local. That said, I really don't like this game all that much.

1pm: Iowa @ #20 Ohio State
Line: OSU -9

The Buckeyes have kicked the shit out of everyone except for Louisville and UNC (their only two losses). I'd expect this to be similar to their 74-63 win over Marquette, and I like them to cover against and up-and-down Hawkeyes team. Even though they went into Raleigh and beat UNC a month ago, this is a team that just shot .383 from the field (and gave up 70 points) against North Florida. Blowout city.

2pm: Virginia Tech @ #17 West Virginia
Line: WVU -16

Is this a rivalry game? Maybe/maybe not. But it is the start of a brutal stretch for the Hokies, who follow this game with games against Syracuse, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Virginia. Woof. WVU has beaten NC State (83-69) and Boston College (70-66) in the ACC this year. But, because Va Tech hasn't played a single ranked team yet, it's tough to say how they'll show. I'd stay away, but if you can tease West Virginia down to single digits then I'd take it.

3pm: Illinois @ Michigan
Line: Michigan -2

There really isn't too much to say about the Michigan Wolverines, other than I have absolutely NO idea how they are favored over anybody. This Illinois team beat Mizzou and Baylor, and actually looked good against Villanova (even though they lost by 14.. go cats). The Illini's only losses have come against top-half teams in the Pac 12 (Oregon), ACC (Miami), and Big East (those Cats). I like Illinois here, floaters for days.

4pm: Cincinnati @ NC State
Line: NCST -4

Both of these teams are very, very average. My gut says Cincy, and I like that better than praying Louisville is able to cover 18.5 points against Long Beach State (same time slot). The Bearcats have a balanced, low-scoring attack - nobody averages 10 points per game. The Wolfpack, on the other hand, get major contributions from 3 players. Whichever way this game goes, you can bet that these will not be the top teams in the AAC/ACC at the end of the season.

5pm: #12 Maryland @ Michigan State
Line: Michigan State -6

Before I knew what the line was, I told myself I was going to take MSU regardless. But giving six points? Against a ranked team? That beat Iowa State and Arizona State on a neutral court and won at Oklahoma State? How could Sparty possibly be favored here? Brandon Dawson and Dez Wells will be returning to their respective teams, so there isn't too much difference there. Tom Izzo, your thoughts? "I just don't think we're in great shape," Izzo said. "I just don't think we're there." How is this team favored?! I want to see where the Maryland moneyline opens, because that's the bet here. If not, take them +6 just to be safe.

6pm: Davidson @ #3 Virginia
Line: Virginia -16.5

UNC beat Davidson 90-72 on a neutral court (but any game in the state of North Carolina is basically a home game for UNC). Virgina scores about 70 a game and gives up about 46 (that's best in the nation). Take Virginia and thank me later.

Picks: Ohio State -9, Maryland +6, Virginia -16.5, tease West Virginia/Illinois to -12/+6

Night game preview coming later (unless my boss catches me and I get fired).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Weekend Update

I wanted to use a picture from Kevin Nealon's time as the Weekend Update anchor, and there is one of him and Adam Sandler that summarized the start to this weekend well:

Our first best was Western Kentucky -4 over Central Michigan. If you're reading this, I assume you know that this game was a heartbreaker and made me want to crawl into a hole. Complete devastation.

But, as the old saying goes, if you are a shooter then you have to keep shooting until you hit something because that's what shooters have to do. So we sacked up and killed the rest of the weekend.

Boxing day teaser: Rutgers +10.5 over UNC (Rutgers won 40-21) and Louisiana Tech Pick'em over Illinois (La Tech won 35-18). The best place to be as a bettor is "Damn, we didn't even need to tease because we nailed those picks so well."

Saturday college hoops teaser: Kentucky -2.5 over Louisville (Kentucky won 58-50) and Gonzaga -1 over BYU (Gonzaga won 87-80). We are really high on the Wildcats and Bulldogs this year. If you happened to watch these games, you can see why. Kentucky held Louisville to one assist the whole game. One assist! And Gonzaga can score inside and out, and they seem a lot like this Villanova team we all love so much.

Sunday NFL teaser: Normally, we try to avoid having games from different times of day on the same ticket. Yesterday, we had games in all 3 time slots. Early, we had Saints +3 over Bucs (Saints won 23-20). In the afternoon, we had Packers Pick'em over Lions (Packers won 30-20) and Cardinals +14 over 49ers (Niners won, but only 20-17). So, if you're following, we were the night game away from hitting a +200 teaser. We decided to hedge our late bet of Steelers +3.5 by also betting a little bit on Bengals -3.5 (which paid +240). The way it set up, if Pittsburgh won, we basically hit +150. If Cincinnati won, we basically broke even. We hedged, so of course the Steelers won 27-17.

But hey, when you win your bet every day for three days, how much can you really complain?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wednesday Morning Recap

There are nights where gambling is the best. You don't even have to win every game. But if you win more than you lose (or even if you only lose a little), and the games are that much more exciting, gambling is awesome.

Last night was not one of those nights. For starters, the two huge spreads I looked at were Louisville -25 against Cal State Northridge and Villanova -26.5 against NJIT. I hate Rick Pitino, so I didn't want to trust him to cover. I am still skeptical of Jay Wright, and it feels like Nova is ready to drop a heartbreaker soon.

Well, Louisville won by exactly 25. Villanova seemed like they might lose, then won the second half by 28 points and eventually also won by 25. When spreads get into the 20's, logic goes completely out the window.

The games we actually bet, Texas over Stanford and Arizona over UNLV, were two prime examples of gambling being the worst. Texas was supposed to compete for the Big XII title this year. They lost outright to unranked Stanford. 'Zona was supposed to be a top-5 team this year. They lost outright to Las Vegas University (fitting).

Obviously, neither team covered.

Worst of all, there are no college basketball games tonight and only 4 (in all of Division 1) tomorrow. Christmas is ruined. Fuck you, Las Vegas.

And fuck you too!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday Night College Hoops Picks

Last night was less than stellar. I just plain missed on a few - Wisconsin is really good, Providence is actually pretty decent, and Washington was mind-bendingly not good enough. But shooters gotta shoot, and there are a bunch of college games tonight featuring top 25 teams.

#3 Arizona (-13) @ UNLV, 10pm
Notable wins for Arizona: have beaten everyone they've played including Mizzou (72-53*), Kansas State (72-68*). San Diego State (61-59*), Gonzaga (66-63 in OT), Michigan (80-53), @UTEP (60-55)
Notable wins for UNLV: Temple (57-50*)
Notable losses for UNLV: Stanford (89-60*), @ASU (77-55), Utah (59-46*)

Zona is making their case here to be in the top tier with Duke and Kentucky (I'd round that out with Louisville and potentially Wisconsin). Losing this game - or even just barely winning - basically ends that talk. To keep this simple, that Utah "neutral site" game was played at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Arizona is better than Utah. Thus far, UNLV has beaten the mid-to-low level teams and gotten killed by the Pac-12 teams. That Temple win keeps looking better and better, but it doesn't look good enough.

Pick: Arizona -13 (and if you're teasing...)

#4 Louisville (-25) hosting Cal State Northridge, 7pm

Nope! You are most certainly not getting me to trust Rick Pitino here. Can't do it. Not picking this game.

#7 Villanova (-26.5) hosting NJIT, 7pm

Nope! You are most certainly not getting me to trust Jay Wright here. Can't do it. Not picking this game.

#9 Texas (-11) hosting Stanford, 7pm 
Notable wins for Texas: Iowa (71-57*), Cal (71-55*), @UConn (55-54), coming off a 78-68 home win over Long Beach State
Notable losses for Texas: 63-51 at Kentucky is their only loss
Notable wins for Stanford: UNLV (89-60*)
Notable losses for Stanford: Duke (70-59*), @Depaul (87-72), @BYU (79-77)

Bang! There's the other half of the Arizona teaser if you're into that. I think Texas wins easily because I don't think Stanford is that good this year. The Longhorns are obviously better at home than they are on the road, as they lost to Kentuky and barely beat UConn in their only two road games. But Stanford is not a great road team either - losing to BYU? Getting killed by Depaul? C'mon.

Pick: Texas -11 (and if you're teasing...)

Tuesday Morning Recap

The quick version is "not good."

The longer version:

Wisconsin def. Cal (+9.5), 68-56
Cal's first home loss and another step in the direction of Wisconsin being a legit contender for the Duke-Kentucky elite tier. The Badgers only shot .436 from the field (.273 from three), but were still able to pull off a cover by outrebounding Cal 39-29 while holding the Bears to .389 from the field.

Temple def. Kansas (-7.5), 77-52
This was similar to the Miami-Eastern Kentucky game in that it leaves everyone scratching their head and saying, "What?" It makes no sense! But when the underdog shoots .583 from the field and the favorite shoots .321, that makes for a pretty good chance of an upset. And it's not even like Temple is a defensive stalwart - before this game, they gave up about 63 points per game. That's somewhere around the 100th-best in the nation. Your quote of the night for this game, from Temple coach Fran Dunphy: "I think we played about as well as we possibly could have. It was our night."

Wichita State (-19) def. Loyola Marymount, 80-53
Ohio State (-22.5) def. Miami (OH), 93-55
Hey! We got one! Hitting on these two powerhouses against such scrub teams almost feels like stealing. Not that I'm complaining. And for what it's worth, betting on huge spreads like these does make the games incredibly more enjoyable to watch.

Washington (-13.5) def. Tulane, 66-57
How do you shoot .521 from the field, hold your significantly less talented opponent to .317, outblock them 9-1, have comparable measures for rebounding and free throw shooting and just narrowly lose the steals/turnovers battles...and then still not cover?

Providence def. Miami (-1.5), 76-62
I thought we had it at halftime. The game was tied, there were signs of life, and Providence stinks. Flip that whole thing on its head. Miami stinks, and Providence won the second half by two touchdowns. Miami has a week to regroup before they host College of Charleston, so hopefully they don't choke that one away too!

St. John's (-9.5) def. Long Beach State, 66-49
The Johnnies gave you everything you could possibly ask for out of a team in this position. They won the turnover battle 17-7, outshot the 49ers .450-.323, and kept the underdogs to a not-good-enough .318 from three point range. I'm being really nit-picky because they covered and there isn't much they could have done better, but there are two concerns I see from the box score: (1) St. John's basically plays with 5 players and no subs. The starters averages 36.4 minutes each, and the only bench player to play more than 4 minutes was Felix Balamou, who played 9. Rysheed Jordan didn't play because he was sick, but even a 6-man rotation doesn't leave a whole lot of room for errors or foul trouble. (2) Long Beach State had 15 offensive rebounds. 15! Jordan only averages 4.1 rebounds per game, and you'd expect a team with Chris Obekpa and Sir'Dominic Pointer to do better against Temidayo Yussuf, David Samuels, and Branford Jones (who?).

For the night: 3-4

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Night College Hoops Picks

Let's get back after it. Villanova finally failed to cover a spread (but still beat Cuse, so it's not the end of the world), and we lost our 8-bet heater. But, all streaks have to come to an end so new streaks can begin. That said, it's an awesome night for college hoops with 13 ranked teams playing (although only a handful are playing against teams from major conferences). I'm going to break down as many of them as I can until my boss catches me and I get sent detention for the day.

(Editor's note: between the time I wrote this up this morning and the games tonight, the new rankings came out. I kept both in, so it's set up as Last Week/This Week. For example, Wisconsin was #5 in last week's poll and is now currently #6.)

#5/6 Wisconsin (-9.5) @ Cal, 9pm

Notable games for Wisconsin: beat Georgetown 68-65 and Oklahoma 69-56 (neutral courts), lost 80-70 at home to Duke, won 49-38 at Marquette and 93-54 at Milwaukee
Notable games for Cal: beat Syracuse 73-59 and lost to Texas 71-55 (neutral courts), have won home games against Cal Poly, Montana, Wyoming, Princeton, and Eastern Washington

Initially I was going to pick Wisconsin and say 'Don't overthink it' - but then I overthought it. The only pyramid-caliber teams that the Badgers have played are Duke, Oklahoma and (maybe) Georgetown. Duke beat them by ten in their own building. They beat Oklahoma by 7 when the Sooners shot 37% from the floor and doubled their number of turnovers. They beat Georgetown by three. Georgetown! 

Pick: Cal +9.5 and it's my favorite pick of the day already. 

#10/10 Kansas (-7.5) @ Temple, 7pm

Notable games for Kansas: beat URI, Tennessee, Michigan State, and Utah on neutral courts; won 75-70 at Georgetown, beat Florida 71-65 at home, got killed by Kentucky on a neutral court
Notable games for Temple: lost 74-54 to Duke and 57-50 to UNLV (neutral courts), lost 58-56 at Saint Joe's and 85-62 at Villanova, have won home games against American, Louisiana Tech, Penn, LIU-Brooklyn, and Towson

My gut says this game is similar to Kansas' double-digit wins over URI and Tennessee. Home court advantage aside (Philly stand up), Kansas just has too much skill in the frontcourt and backcourt. Temple is a small-time team this year. They've been killed by the two legit teams they've played so far, and they've gone just 2-2 in Big Five games, getting outscored by 4 points per game. Part of that is Villanova, but don't forget that the rest of the Big Five stinks and Temple should have killed them. 

Pick: Kansas -7.5

#11/11 Wichita State (-19) against Loyola Marymount, 11pm (Game in Honolulu, HI)

I'm not going through this whole thing for this game. Throwing out their games against Utah, Memphis, and Alabama, Wichita State has won each game by an average of 81-59. That's 22 points. Against teams that I have heard of (official measurements, coming at you!), Loyola Marymount scores 60.8 points per game and gives up 73.8. That's only a deficit of 13 points, but none of those teams were even ranked, let alone as good as WSU. 

Pick Wichita State -19 (if you're teasing, throw this one in for some breathing room)

#12/21 Ohio State (-22.5) hosting Miami (OH), 6pm

I'm going to do the same thing as before. Ohio State against bad teams: average score is 87.4 - 56.1. Miami (OH)'s side is a little tougher because they've kept in to single digits against Northwestern and Dayton. They lost by 19 to Evansville and by 15 to Virginia Tech. 

Pick: I'd stay away, but OSU seems like a "crush bad teams and lose to good teams" type of team. So if you really have a gambling problem, I'd take the Buckeyes.

(Editor's note: Wow! Getting killed by UNC is not a great look when you are pushing to be a top-ten team.)

#16/13 Washington (-13.5) hosting Tulane, 11pm
Notable games for Washington: have beaten everyone they've played, including SDSU, Eastern Washington, and Oklahoma
Notable games for Tulane: lost 71-49 at home to Wake Forest, have beaten everyone else including Mississippi State

Beyond their big games listed above, these teams have beaten a lot of garbage. But Washington's "garbage" is a step above Tulane's garbage. Clearly, the Huskies are a better team, and having a home game at this distance is definitely an advantage. Then consider that the Huskies are 15th in the country in rebounding and the Green Wave are 119th. 

In a situation like this, the underdog is going to have to shoot the lights out. Jay Hook and Louis Dabney can, and the team combines for the 38th best shooting percentage in the country. That's why this spread is lower than the OSU/WSU spreads. But throw that upset you're considering out the window, because Tulane's stats are inflated from their pitiful schedule. 

Pick: Washington -13.5

#18/30 Miami (-1.5) against Providence, 9pm (Game in Brooklyn, NY)
Notable games for Miami: won 69-67 at Florida, won 70-61 at home against Illinois, coming off a 72-44 loss at home to Eastern Kentucky
Notable games for Providence: lost on the road 58-38 to Kentucky and 69-60 to Boston College, beat Florida State 80-54 and Notre Dame 75-74 (both neutral court), lost 77-67 at home to Brown but have beaten URI (68-60), Stony Brook (79-61), and UMass (85-65) since

I don't know about either of these teams, Miami looks like a decent team that will end up somewhere in the middle of the ACC, but they just got absolutely head-scratchingly killed at home against a bunch of nobodies. Providence also looks like a pretty decent team that might even contend for the Big East title. 

I love a game like this because the Eastern Kentucky game was clearly a fluke. Miami is underrated here, and they're playing away from home with a chip on their shoulder. Providence is a decent team, maybe, but they haven't played anybody of Miami's caliber (Kentucky doesn't count because they're too good). I love only having to give up a point and a half, but I'd consider the moneyline too depending on the price difference. 

Pick: Miami -1.5

#20/17 St. John's (-9.5) hosting Long Beach State, 7:30pm

I am really high on SJU this year. I think they're going to end up legitimately challenging Villanova for the Big East. On the other side, I'd hate to play for Long Beach State right now. They are in the midst of a six game road trip with games at Stephen F Austin, San Diego State, Texas, Saint John's, Syracuse, and Louisville. Yeeeesh. They have also played (and lost to) BYU, Xavier, UCLA, and Washington. To their credit, they did beat Xavier one time and Kansas State. I think St. John's wins this, at home, pretty easily.

Pick: SJU -9.5 (but if you're looking for another team for that teaser....)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thursday Afternoon Europa League Picks

I have been subpar with my soccer picks this week, to say the least. Yesterday, for example, I didn't expect Chelsea or Bayern to really bring it. They combined to win 6-1. Europe League today, which means shittier teams (and more of them), so I'm going to find some teams we've heard of and pick some winners (and probably, to be honest, some losers).

Inter Milan @ FK Karabakh
Inter have already clinched first place in GroupF . FKK (FKQ?) are through if they win and going home if they lose. I'm expecting a rowdy crowd of Azerbaijanis, but if we learned anything yesterday it's that you should pick the better team even if they don't need the points.
Pick: Inter pick'em (+115)

Tottenham @ Besiktas
This is the match that will decide first place in Group C. Unless Besiktas win, Spurs will finish in the top spot. Through 5 matches, Spurs have scored 9 and conceded 3; Besiktas have scored 10 and conceded 5. Neither team has lost a match, but there have been quite a few draws (including the last time they played). I was leaning Draw +230 here, but ultimately I saw that the stadium holds more than 76,000 screaming Turkish people. No shot Spurs have the heart to win there.
Pick: Besiktas to win (+115)

HJK @ Club Brugge
We won a LOT of money betting on HJK in the Finnish league. Then they got into international play and they have not fared nearly as well. Through 5 matches, they have managed two wins and three losses for a goal differential of -5. Club Brugge (everyone's favorite Belgian-themed nightclub) have scored 8 and only conceded 1. This could get ugly for the boys in blue, although they could also advance if they manage to win. Don't count on it.
Pick: Club Brugge -1.5 (-120)

FC Zurich @ Borussia Monchengladbach
Neither of these teams is all that prestigious on an international level, but I'll be damned if I don't jump at the chance to preview the Monchengladbach game every time I can. They are currently leading Group A, with 9 points and a +7 GD. They are followed by Villareal with 8 points/+6, Zurich with 7 points/-1, and FC Apollon Limassol with 3 points/-12. If the soccer gods are real, Zurich don't deserve a point from this match because they don't deserve to even have a shot at advancing.
Pick: Monchengladbach to win (-260)

Dinamo Minsk @ Fiorentina
Another "one team clinched and is a lot better than the team that has no hope" situation.
Pick: Fiorentina -1.5 (-105)

Guingamp @ PAOK
The battle for second place behind Fiorentina. Both of these teams have 7 points through 5 matches, but Guingamp have a 0 goal differential and PAOK have a +4. Plus they're at home (in Greece, if you were curious).
Pick: PAOK to win (-130)

Slovan Bratislava @ Napoli
Fun fact about me: my dad's ancestors hail from a small town outside of Bratislava in Slovakia. Fun fact about the Slovan Bratislava soccer team: they stink. Through 5, they've scored 1 goal and conceded 17. Seventeen! Napoli are currently holding onto first place in Group I, but Bratislava's incompetence has allowed the top three teams in the group to have 10-10-9 points respectively. Napoli are the clear favorite, at least based on prestige (see the next game for the other two), and they might win this game by five. Although, to clarify, if Bovada had a -1.5 line, I would prefer that.
Pick: Napoli -2.5 (-110)

Krasnodar @ Everton
Everton have secured first in Group H. Krasnodar have secured a plane ride home. Yesterday, I stayed away from the team in the top position. Today, I am making a commitment to be a bettor that bets on the better team.
Pick: Everton to win (-140)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Night College Hoops Picks

Let's keep this college basketball money train rolling! I recapped last night's winners in the other post, so I'll get right into the games - and we have 2 steals tonight.

#10 Kansas @ Georgetown, 7pm, Fox Sports 1
Notable games for Kansas: beat URI 76-60, Tennessee 82-67, and #20 Michigan State 61-56 (all three on a neutral court), coming off a 71-65 win at home over Florida
Notable games for Georgetown: beat #18 Florida 66-65 in OT and lost to #2 Wisconsin 68-65 and Butler 64-58 (all three on a neutral court), coming off a 78-46 home win over Towson
Line: Kansas +2.5

This is a joke. Easiest bet of the day. Georgetown stinks - they beat a Florida team that stinks and they kept it close against Wisconsin in the best game the Hoyas will play all season - and they still lost. The main reason Kansas is getting points here (mind-boggling) is because Wisconsin is better than Kansas and the Badgers only won by 3. A smaller reason is KU junior forward Jamari Traylor was arrested this weekend for interfering with a police officer. Jamari is good for 19.1 minutes, 3.3 points, and 3.9 rebounds so far this year. His minutes will go to freshman Cliff Alexander and sophomore Landen Lucas, and Perry Ellis is going to have to avoid foul trouble. Georgetown has a lot of depth at forward, but Kansas is the better team.

Pick: Kansas +2.5

Rhode Island @ Providence, 7pm
Notable games for URI: beat #21 Nebraska 66-62 (OT) at home, lost 76-60 to #11 Kansas and 64-61 to Georgia Tech (both neutral court), coming off a 75-43 win against Southern Miss
Notable games for Providence: won their first six against Albany, Binghamton, Navy, FSU and Notre Dame (neutral courts), and Yale; then lost 58-38 at Kentucky, 69-60 at Boston College, and 77-67 at home to Brown
Line: Providence -3.5

It's almost like whoever set this line mixed up the teams. Providence stinks. They just lost to 5-6 Brown who have not beaten (besides Providence) a team that you have ever heard of. The Rams have beaten the teams they were supposed to and lost to two solid major-conference teams on neutral courts. Throw in that this is basically a home game for both teams because it's being played in downtown Providence (the capital of Rhode Island). I might even like this pick more than Kansas.

Pick: Rhode Island +3.5

Wednesday Afternoon Champions League Picks - Round 6

Yesterday afternoon didn't go so well, but last night was a banner night on the hardwood. Villanova and Baylor covered easily. Bradley covered easily. We decided to not bet against Pitino (acknowledging your own biases are a huge part of betting), and took Montrezl Harrell's points at the last minute. All 4 hit, and now we're rich.

So let's turn around and blow it on some Euro footy! Odds from (and for the first, time this season, I am not picking all the matches because some of them are really shite):

Group E

CSKA Moscow @ Bayern Munich
Bayern does not need any points here, as they've already secured first place. So I hate betting these games because you never really know what you're going to be getting. The Bayern moneyline is only -425, so what would even be the point there? I hate most of the available lines, but let's have a little fun with it.
Pick: Bayern to win and both teams to score (+140)

Manchester City @ Roma
If Man City wins, they're probably through. If Roma wins, they are also probably through. CSKA Moscow could complicate things if they happen to win, but do we really think that's going to happen? For this game in Rome, Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure are out and that's all she wrote.
Pick: Roma pick'em (-110)

Group F

PSG @ FC Barcelona
Both of these teams are through, but the loser draws Bayern next. Ibrahimovic is out for PSG, and the Barca front line is still Messi/Neymar. Any other questions?
Pick: Barcelona -1.5 (+110)

Group G

Sporting Lisbon @ Chelsea
Chelsea have the first spot in the group locked up. Sporting are definitely through with a draw, and they're getting the Chelsea B-team with the big names (Costa, Terry, Fabregas, Hazard, Oscar, Drogba) probably not seeing a whole lot of action.
Pick: Sporting win or draw (+125)
Update: Costa and Fabregas played and as I type this in the 70th minute, it is 3-1 Chelsea. Great!)

Group H

BATE Borisov @ Athletic Bilbao
Two teams that can't advance, so they're playing for the 3-spot and (I believe) the right to play in the Europa League. Borisov are only one point behind Bilbao, but are seventeen points back in goal differential. It really is impressive that a team at this level can have a differential of -20 through five matches. Christ. You don't deserve the Europa League.
Pick: Bilbao -1.5 (-115)

Shakhtar Donestk @ FC Porto
I HATE Shakhtar Donestk. I spell their name wrong every time I type it. Unfortunately, they are advancing to the next round. The seeds are set because Porto have built up such a lead (and the teams in the previous game blow so hard), so this is another meaningless match. However, these teams are pretty evenly matched in that they have each conceded just three goals and have scored 15 and 14 respectively. Offense, anyone?
Pick: Over 2.5 goals (Even)
Prediction: 0-0 draw

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday Night College Hoops Picks

Last night was a pretty ho-hum night in the college basketball world, but we are back at it tonight with 6 games featuring ranked teams and 4 more featuring at least one team that will probably be dancing in March. I don't have all ten for you, but I do have both ends of the Jimmy V classic in New York and some Big XII action.

Villanova vs. Illinois, Jimmy V Classic (Madison Square Garden), 7pm, ESPN
Line: Villanova -4.5
Notable games for Villanova: beat #14 VCU 77-53 and #19 Michigan 60-55 (both neutral floor), coming off a 74-46 win at home against Saint Joe's
Notable games for Illinois: beat Baylor 62-54 on a neutral floor, lost 70-61 @ #15 Miami, coming off a 70-55 win at home against American

The Illini score a lot of points, but some of that is inflated by the 114 and 107 point showings they had against Coppin State and Austin Peay. When they lost to Miami, they were unable to overcome the Hurricanes' balanced offense and stout defense. That is what Villanova does, and MSG might as well be a home game for us. Cats win easy.

Pick: Villanova -4.5 (this line is going to move.. a lot) (Edit: it moved to -6.5 by tipoff)

Bradley @ Kansas State, 8pm, ESPN3
Line: KSU -17
Notable games for Bradley: lost 57-49 against TCU and 60-57 against SLU (both neutral floor), coming off a 73-45 loss at Memphis
Notable games for K-State: lost 69-60 at Long Beach State, lost 72-68 to Arizona and 70-47 at Pitt (both neutral floor), coming off a 65-64 loss at Tennessee

Plain and simple, Bradley's blowout loss against Memphis was an outlier. They shot 27% from the floor and 29% from 3-point range. In the rest of their games, those numbers are 39% and 37%. Admittedly, not great. But KSU's defense averages 70 points against, whereas Memphis' averages about 60. It was a bad matchup and a bad showing, and Bradley lost by 28. I expect this one to be closer to the TCU and SLU losses.

Pick: Bradley +17

Eastern Michigan @ Michigan, 9pm, ESPNU
Line: Michigan -14.5

I don't think it makes sense to bet this game with a line of anything more than 10 but less than 20 points. I did, however, want to note that this is a good preview of next season, when Michigan will be joining Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan in the MAC for football and basketball next year.

Texas A&M @ Baylor, 9pm, ESPN2
Line: Baylor -5.5
Notable games for A&M: lost 55-53 to Dayton (neutral floor), beat New Mexico 64-51 (neutral floor), coming off a 72-71 home win over Arizona State
Notable games for Baylor: won 69-65 at South Carolina, beat Memphis 71-47 (neutral floor), lost to Illinois 62-54 (neutral floor), coming off a 66-63 win at Vanderbilt

Baylor's defense is really stingy - they allow the 9th fewest points per game in the nation right now with 52.6. While A&M haven't played anybody quite that good, they have played some decent defensive squads (scale goes from 1st place Kentucky at 45.8 ppg to 345th place Coppin State at 87.3 ppg):

  • Dayton is 27th in the country at 57.1 ppg - A&M lost 55-53
  • New Mexico is 37th at 58.0 - A&M won 64-51
  • New Orleans is 342nd at 79.6 - A&M won 87-65
    • For comparison, TCU beat New Orleans 86-71
  • Sam Houston State is 107th at 62.0 - A&M won 66-63
  • Arizona State is 74th at 60.6 - A&M won 72-71
So what does that tell us? Not a whole lot. Dayton, New Mexico, and ASU are all fair-ish comparisons. New Orleans is terrible, and Sam Houston plays against intramural teams. That New Mexico game scares me the most - but even there, Baylor is a lot more talented than UNM. Let's look at how A&M beat New Mexico so handily:
  • UNM led by 5 at half and by as many as 12 
  • A&M won the second half 38-20
  • UNM allowed A&M to shoot 45% from the floor and 30% from three, which isn't terrible
  • As a team, UNM had 16 turnovers and shot 34.7%/27.8% from the floor/from three
So this was partially UNM's statistically staunch defense not actually being that great, and moreso their offense playing like a team from the Mountain West. Look for Baylor in the Pyramid next time around.

Pick: Baylor -5.5

Indiana vs. Louisville, Jimmy V Classic (Madison Square Garden), 9pm, ESPN
Line: Louisville -12
Notable games for Indiana: beat #22 SMU 74-68 and Pitt 81-69 (both at home), lost to Eastern Washington 88-86 at home
Notable games for Louisville: beat Minnesota 81-68 (neutral floor), beat #14 Ohio State 64-55
For what it's worth: both teams played Savannah State at home (keep getting them checks, Savannah State Athletic Department!) and won BIG. Louisville beat them 87-26 a few weeks ago and Indiana beat them 95-49 on Saturday.

Speaking of that Pyramid, Louisville is flirting with the top rung in the Duke/Kentucky discussion. If they make it through the Jimmy V classic (which is Indiana and then either Illinois or Villanova from the game above), we could be treated to a December 27th matchup between Louisville and Kentucky (who would both be undefeated and likely in the top 3) in Lexington.

But first, they have to beat Indiana in New York. It's tough to compare the ACC and Big Ten so early, because every team in both conferences except one is .500 or better (Wake Forest - fuck 'em). Oh, what's that? The Big 10-ACC Challenge is a thing? And both of these teams won handily in their matchups as described above? And overall the Big 10 won 8-6 so we can't really take anything away from it?

Well damn. While we're here though, fun stat about that challenge: the attendance for these games ranged from about 6,000 to almost 23,000. The low games were Clemson @ Rutgers (6,285), Georgia Tech @ Northwestern (6,133), and #24 Illinois at #15 Miami in Coral Gables (6,086). I mean, come on, Miami, what the fuck! Two ranked teams, including one of the strongest brand names in college sports, and you can't even sell out your own god damn arena. Let's move on before I throw up my lunch (salad, by the way - I hate growing up).

Where I was going with that Big 10/ACC Challenge bit was the game with the highest attendance - Ohio State and Louisville. It's tough for me to read how this is going to play out at MSG. On one hand, Louisville fans travel well and a lot of people like Rick Pitino. I hate Rick Pitino, and I could (want to) see the NYC crowd cheering for the underdog Hoosiers.

Some people might be afraid of the home loss to Eastern Washington. However, those Eagles are 7-1 and their only loss came at #22 SMU. So it's not like they invited some scrub team in and choked away a game where they were favored by three and a half touchdowns (Hi Michigan). I think that loss did us a favor tonight, because I think Louisville wins but not by enough to cover that 12 point spread.

Pick: Indiana +12, but take this one with a grain of salt because I really don't like Pitino

Tuesday Afternoon Champions League Picks - Round 6

Here we go. The final round (of group play). No better way to get in the Christmas spirit than mailtiming it for one week watching futbol and then taking the entire next week off and going to the Bahamas (translated: let's win some money so I can drink a million Kaliks).

Here are the Tuesday games this week, and as always I'm giving you winners on all of them. Keep in mind, this is the last round and some teams have already clinched or been eliminated:

Anderlecht @ Borussia Dortmund
Anderlecht are eliminated with only 5 points through the first 5 matches. Dortmund have 12, and have a narrow lead on Arsenal (who have 10 and get to stomp the shit out of Galatasaray today). In games like these, when one team is a lot better, the only thing that scares me is a lack of motivation. Well how's this for motivation, from manager Jurgen Klopp: "This is also about getting a boost for our upcoming Bundesliga matches – this game fits nicely into our schedule and the opposition will pose a real challenge." Whatever. You can NOT pick Anderlecht here.
Pick: Dortmund -1.5 (-150)

Basel @ Liverpool
Unless you think Lodogorets Razgrad is taking 3 points from the Real Madrid B-team, this Basel-Liverpool match is going to determine 2nd place in Group B. Liverpool are mid-table in the EPL, whereas Basel are decidedly in first place in the Swiss Super League. That doesn't tell us a whole lot, but Basel (at least based on results, because I admittedly have not watched a whole lot of them) seem to be a much better team at home. They are on the road today, and that's good enough for me.
Pick: Liverpool to win -140

Ludogorets @ Real Madrid
Cristian Bale cannot finish any lower than first place. It seems like that means time off (for either injury or suspension) for the following: James, Luca Modric, Sergio Ramos, Sami Khedira. It's tough to know if that will also mean a day of rest for Ronaldo, Bale, Chicharito, Isco, or Tony Kroos. Christ, this team is stacked. Carlo Ancelotti, your thoughts? "I will decide my lineup in the morning. If players are not in good condition, they won't play." Oh, well what the fuck does that even mean? What did it for me was the Real Madrid form guide from the past 5 matches across all competition: WWWWW (it looks the same for their last 5 Champions League matches). I am, however, taking an extra half-goal - just in case.
Pick: Real Madrid -2 (-210)

Arsenal @ Galatasaray
Unless I am grossly misunderstanding the Champions League format, Arsenal needs to win this match to have any shot of coming in first in Group D. The Gunners and Dortmund are going to be dealt two of the three teams from the (currently tight-knit) trio of Bayer/Monaco/Zenit. There isn't a ton of difference, as they're all great teams, so it's tough to know how much urgency Arsenal will have today. But what I can tell you is Galatasaray have not won a match in the Champions League this year (-12 goal differential), and their best result was a 1-1 draw against 3rd place Anderlecht. This one is easy - grab the draw protection and this is my favorite bet so far.
Pick; Arsenal pick'em (-125)

Malmo @ Olympiakos
Malmo is out. Olympiakos is in if (1) they win (2) Juventus loses to Atletico Madrid (3) they make up a goal differential of eight. Probably not going to happen, but you know those rowdy Greeks are going to bring it. Old Limpy Tacos are 2-0 at home and 0-3 on the road, so I do expect them to win. However, I don't think I like the 1.5 goal line. So for some more juice, both teams have conceded 11 goals through 5 games. Malmo have scored 2 and Olympiacos have scored 6.
Pick: Parlay Olympiakos to win (-270) with Over 1.5 total goals (-400) for a line of -140

Zenit @ AS Monaco
One of the matches that should help decide who gets to play Arsenal or Dortmund. Monaco have scored two goals (both in 1-0 wins), and have drawn two matches 0-0. Zenit have scored 4 and given up 4. Normally in these situations we just bet on Hulk. Factor in that Ricardo Carvalho is out (suspension) and my fear of Dimitar Berbatov subsided when I realized it isn't 2010, and there's no reason to change that.
Pick: Zenit pick'em (Even)
Prediction: Dimitar Berbatov scores and the game ends 1-0 Monaco

Bayer Leverkusen @ Benfica
If you're Bayer, would you rather play Dortmund of Arsenal? Arsenal? Then you better win this game and get all three points.
Pick: Bayer pick'em (-190)

Atletico Madrid @ Juventus
Both of these teams are likely advancing, and Diego Forlan is getting the 1st seed barring something outrageous. (Wait, what? Diego Forlan hasn't played for Atletico Madrid since 2011? WHAT?) Bovada has this pick'em (so it's protected against a draw) as -210 for Juve and +160 for Atleti. I'll use the same logic here as I did for Olympiakos. They probably can't move up, but they are going to have a rowdy crowd and a talented team on the pitch.
Pick: Juventus pick'em -210

You might notice there aren't any bets with any huge payouts on the ticket today. If you're looking for a parlay, move the pickems to winners and tack on half a goal where applicable (a draw/push doesn't do anything for you in a parlay). The 9-line parlay pays +27300.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend Update

What a weekend! We got off to a ROCKY start on Friday night. The Kentucky/Kansas portion of our teaser hit (and the Kansas game was a wild one to have money on Kansas). Then Oregon tore off Arizona's pants in the Pac-12 title game and ruined the whole goddamn thing.

To start off college Saturday, we threw some money on the Alma mater to cover three touchdowns against little brother, and they did. Wildcats are a legit team this year, top to bottom.

We thought about taking Ohio State football against Wisconsin, but we were at the bar and never really got around to it. They won by a million. Hate leaving money on the table, but hate losing money even more, so no harm done.

On to NFL Sunday - we teased Texans/Colts early, and the Colts almost ruined the whole thing. Squeaking out a last-minute win against the Browns wasn't pretty and is a terrible sign if you're a Colts fan.

The Texans, on the other hand, are only 2 games back in the AFC South with games against the Colts, Ravens, and Jags (in addition to Houston, Indy plays Dallas and Tennessee). Indy is a 7 point home favorite next week, but if JJ Watt can find a way to win that... you never know. (Update: Bovada just posted their odds to win each division and you cannot bet on the AFC South, even though the Texans could finish 10-6 and the Colts could finish 9-7.)

Our nightcap was Patriots -4.5 over the Chargers, which was never really in doubt. We considered teasing that with San Diego +10.5 (which would have become +14.5) against UCLA, but decided not to complicate things. As it turns out, UCLA was a tad overrated and only won by 7. They will not be making the cut for the pyramid this week.

As for that updated college basketball pyramid:

Only one addition, Rock Chalk in the Good category. Florida might be able to sneak into the Decent category but as it stands now they're 3-4 with losses to Miami, Georgetown, UNC, and Kansas (and wins over three flaming dumpsters). Nevermind, Florida isn't getting into the Pyramid, and now I'm tempted to take Yale +10 tonight in Gainesville. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Night College Picks

You'll notice that I didn't include a sport in the header because we are teasing football and basketball tonight. First time we've ever tried it, but there is a first time for everything. Ask me at about 1am tonight, because it might be the last if the whole thing blows up like every other teaser ever.

Note: We took A LOT of points on this teaser, and the whole thing pays -110. For three games that should be locks, it's actually not too bad of a payout. The games:

#6 Texas @ #1 Kentucky, 7pm, ESPN
Standard line: Kentucky -13
Notable games for Texas: beat Iowa 71-57 and Cal 71-55 (both at MSG), won @ #24 UConn 55-54
Notable games for UK: beat #5 Kansas 72-40 (neutral site), beat Providence 58-38 at home

Kentucky is the most Great of the 'Great' teams in the Pyramid, They are just on another planet from every other team. That said, Texas got up for their spotlight MSG games and took care of business away from home against a ranked Huskies team. Don't overthink this, though. Wildcats might win 40 games this year.

Pick: Kentucky -5 (teasers are awesome)

Florida @ #11 Kansas, 9pm, ESPN
Standard line: Kansas -7.5
Notable games for Florida: lost at home against Miami 69-67, lost 66-65 in OT to Georgetown and 75-64 to UNC (both in the Battle for Atlantis)
Notable games for Kansas: lost 72-40 to Kentucky (neutral site), beat Tennessee 82-67 and Michigan State 61-56 (both neutral site)

For the love of everything holy, please ignore that Kentucky game. It was the first game the Cats had against a legit opponent, and nobody knew they were going to be this good. Kansas is going to either be in the Good or (maybe) Great sections of the Pyramid, and they are going to beat the shit out of the Gators tonight.

Pick: Kansas +0.5 (getting points? I love teasers)

#7 Arizona vs. #2 Oregon, 9pm, FOX
Pac-12 Championship Game, being played in Santa Clara, CA
Standard line: Oregon -14.5

I'm going to defer this game preview to Clay Travis from Outkick the Coverage (who I love):

"I know Todd Furhman says that Arizona is way overrated by the playoff committee and doesn't belong in the Vegas top ten, but they have beaten Oregon twice in the last year. I don't think they'll win a third time in thirteen months, but how do you not think that Rich Rod and his crew have a pretty good understanding of what Oregon does on offense? Check out the box score from the 2013 beat down, these were two pretty even teams from a total yardage perspective. Arizona's win at Oregon this year wasn't flukish either, go look at the box score, these two teams were completely even all night long. In a little over a year Arizona has gone toe-to-toe with Oregon and won twice. Neither win was built on absurdly unlikely plays. 

Vegas believes these two Arizona wins were flukes and expects the Ducks to throttle Arizona this time, but I'm putting my faith in the past two game results and rolling with the Wildcats here."

Pick: Arizona +24.5

NCAAB Pyramid, Version 1.0

Last night's picks did NOT do well. As a reminder, we had Ole Miss -5.5 (hoping they were going to win by enough to cover) and Arkansas +7 (who we loved). Those final scores:

Yes! Nailed it! Money in the bank!

So our plan for the college season is to develop a hierarchy of teams and split them into Great, Good, and Decent. We can really only judge the teams we've watched, so we'll update it along the way. Here's where we are now - and keep in mind, teams can definitely move between levels. For example, Nova will surely drop completely out of the chart by the time the second round of March Madness rolls around:

Despite the loss at home to Duke, we're leaving Wisconsin in the top tier with the big dogs - for now. The ten point loss at home looks bad, but Duke had a historical offensive night.

Villanova and Iowa State both have looked quite good so far, but there is a definite gap between them and the super teams.

The 'Decent' teams are teams we'd take over most other teams, but we've already been burned by overrating Arkansas/Oklahoma and underrating TCU. So beware.

We will continue to add to the Pyramid as we go, and hopefully we'll all end up rich and drunk.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursday Night NCAAB Picks

The most wonderful time of the year... college basketball season. If you follow along on Twitter, you know we hit on Nova and Michigan State last night (and the MSU spread-coverer was a real doozy), but then missed on the smaller bet on Wisconsin. Duke Devils look real good this year.

Now onto tonight. Nothing quite as big as two top-5 teams, but there are some major inter-conference games on the ticket.

TCU Horned Frogs @ Ole Miss Rebels (-6.5) o/u 129.5
TCU (7-0, 0-0 Away) Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1 Home)

TCU: 76.6 ppg/54.7 points against. Haven’t beat anyone of note. Off to a hot start and from what I read it “surprised” everyone. Have played 0 games away. Gotta lose at some point.

Ole Miss: 71.5 ppg/ 60.7 pts against. Let up 66 in OT loss in opener. Beat #23 Creighton by 7. Beat Cinci by 11. Ole Miss lost a “shocker” in their season opener, won 5 straight since. They have some good scorers (15, 13, 12 ppg).

Pick: Ole Miss -6.5. Both have good defenses, but Ole Miss has better scorers and apparently it’s tough to play at their court? Take Ole Miss and try not to overthink it.

Baylor Bears (-3) @ Vanderbilt Common Doors o/u 119.5
Baylor (6-1, 1-0 Away) Vandy (5-1, 4-0 Home)

Vandy: 69.2 ppg/ 56.8 points against. Only loss was to Rutgers. Vandy just beat LaSalle by 13 and were somehow a +2 underdog. Guess people aren't high on the Doors this year.

Baylor 68 ppg/ 51.1 points against). Only loss was to Illinois. Baylor just beat Texas Southern by 26 and covered the -21 spread. They've just been beating up on bad teams.

Pick: Flip a coin? Either take Baylor, Vandy, or the under. So maybe go out and buy something triangular and then flip that.

#18 Arkansas @ #20 Iowa State (-7.5) o/u 160.5 
9pm ESPN2
Arkansas (6-0, 1-0 Away) Iowa St (4-1, 3-0 Home)

Arkansas: 90 ppg/ 70.8 points against 46% 3PT and 20.7 APG. Force 18.5 TO/game

Iowa State: 83.4 ppg/ 69 points against. 34.4% 3PT. Force 14.4 TO/game.

Iowa State doesn't have a great defense. Arkansas 3 point shooting could open up the paint and I think 7.5 points is just too much against a team that can score like Arkansas. Neither team has played anyone too great. But Iowa lost to Maryland and let up 72. Won by 10 against Alabama but let up 74.

Pick: Arkansas +7.5. Give me the team averaging 90 a game and tack on another touchdown. Yes please.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday Premier League Picks - Week 14

Yesterday's picks finished as 3 wins, 2 losses, and a push. And when you count that I knew going in that I was going to hate the Crystal Palace-Aston Villa match, so let's just call it 3-1-1 for +1.7. Not a bad day.

Throw in that today's EPL games are easy, and we have a nice start to NCAA Championship Weekend (welcome to gambling, where the weekend starts on Tuesday afternoon and ends on Monday night).

Southampton @ Arsenal 
Arsenal's recent form has been (1) beat bad teams and (2) lose to decent teams. Southampton just got drubbed by Man City, but have been a pleasant surprise and are currently at third in the table with a goal differential of +15 through 13 matches (8 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses). If you are betting this game without research, you take Arsenal. However, that's not the way to do it.
Pick: Southampton win or draw +105 (you could also talk me into Southampton Pick'em +240)

Spurs @ Chelsea
At this point in the season, my usual strategy for Chelsea has just been to pick them to cover the spread every match. In general, it works. No need to change.
Pick: Chelsea -1.5 (+120)

Hull City @ Everton
Everton are disappointingly near the middle of the table. Hull are near the bottom of the table, and have only managed one point out of their past five EPL contests. There is a gang of players on the injury report for Everton, and I worry that their Europa League success coupled with their early EPL struggles may lead them to focus more on international contests. I wish I didn't have to give so much juice on the Everton moneyline (-200), and this qualifies as my "I Hate This Game So I'm Taking The Tie" bet of the day.
Pick: Draw +335

Man City @ Sunderland
It's always tough to pick against Jozy Altidore (who else had no idea that Jozy was short for Josmer?), but this City side is just stacked with talent. Bovada has the "normal" line at -1, but I'm taking an extra half a goal for a larger payout. Live life on the edge (and then regret it at 4:30 when the score is 2-1).
Pick: Man City -1.5 (+135)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday EPL Picks - Week 14

Tuesday mornings are turning into my favorite morning of the week. I update my spreadsheet for Are You The One? (guilty pleasure) and there always seems to be some top-level futbol.

No Champions League today, but there are a handful of Premier League matches, and we are going 5-5 today:

Newcastle United @ Burnley
This one is easy. Burnley are in 19th place, Newcastle are in 9th but have won 4 of 5. Take the pick'em because draws can be a real buzzkill.
Pick: Newcastle Pick'em (-125)

Liverpool @ Leicester City
Another easy one. Leicester are in last place in the whole league. I don't think it will be a blowout, but there is a large talent discrepancy.
Pick: Liverpool to win -105

Stoke City @ Manchester United
The first contest of the day with a point spread! Can ManU win by two goals to cover? They haven't beaten anybody by more than a goal since QPR in mid-September. Before that, it was Liverpool in early August. I think I like where this is headed.
Pick: Stoke +1.5 (-150)

QPR @ Swansea City
Swansea are pretty evenly split between 5 wins, 4 draws, and 4 losses, and they've managed a +3 goal differential. QPR have won 3, drawn 2, and lost 8 for a goal differential of -11. However, in the past few weeks QPR (at least in terms of results) is similar to - if not better than - Swansea. The Rangers (god I hate them so much) best Leicester and Aston Villa
Pick: QPR win or draw (+125)
Prediction: Swansea wins 6-0.

Aston Villa @ Crystal Palace
I hate everything about picking this game. Both teams are 3-4-6, but Crystal Palace has scored 11 more goals and have a touchdown advantage in goal differential. I think the only logical play here is to pick a draw and hope it ends 1-1.
Pick: Draw +240
Prediction: Someone wins with a goal in stoppage time.

West Ham @ West Brom
Battle for the West Side! Just kidding, these teams are nowhere near each other geographically. They are also nowhere near each other in the EPL table; West Brom are in 15th place with 13 points and West Ham are in 5th place with 21 points. Thanksgiving/Turkey season is over and it is not officially Christmas/Ham time.
Pick: West Ham Pick'em (+110)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Well #TeaseLife Blew Up Yesterday

If you are new to gambling, a teaser is basically a parlay where you can tack 6-10 points onto all of the spreads. It makes it more likely that they will all cover, but you take a hit on the payout. In theory, it's a safer way to parlay.

In practice, I want to shoot myself.

Yesterday, we liked six teams: the Colts, Ravens, Rams, Saints, Texans, and Bills. That teaser (+6.5 points) would have paid +500. We decided to drop the Saints and Bills, and go with a four-team teaser for +225. You know, to be safer and make it more likely that we'd hit.

The two games that we cut:

Well damn. Should have kept them in there. No big deal though, we still have four games that we liked even more. With the way the spreads worked out, the Rams, Ravens, and Texans just had to win. The Colts had to cover a 3.5 point spread.

The final tallies:

Total score: 240-124. Ravens lose though, whole teaser goes to shit. How did they lose?
Nothing too heartbreaking, just leading the entire game and then giving up touchdowns on the final 3 San Diego possessions to lose by one point. 

Verdict on teasers: 0 stars, 0 gold coins, 0 thumbs up. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Round 5 Champions League Picks (Part II)

Yesterday was a decent day on the pitch, and you will never hear me complain about hitting 5 and missing 3. The trouble with betting every match is there are going to be some bets you don't like. Yesterday (in retrospect), the Roma/CSKA over and Shakhtar were those bets. Oh well. Can't dwell on it - there are games to bet today, and we're going for all of 'em.

Early Game (12pm)

Benfica @ Zenit
Pick: Zenit ML (Even)
Zenit have been really disappointing. They did extremely well (at least in my memory) in qualifying, but have scored only 3 goals in 4 matches. As it stands, they are on the outside looking in. They need a big home win to keep the dream alive, and Russia's best team should get a boost from the home crowd.

Late Games (2:45pm)

Galatasaray @ Anderlecht
Pick: Anderlecht Pick'em (-185)
These two teams stink! They have no hope of advancing (that will be Dortmund and Arsenal from this group). But I committed to picking every  game, so here we are. Through 4 games, they have conceded 9 and 13 goals respectively (while scoring only 5 and 3). To pile on the stink even further, the only player you have ever heard of on either of these teams (Wesley Sneijder) is fighting with the manager about playing time, and the rumor mill has him headed for Manchester United. I hate everything about this game, but I'll take the home team with less drama (and the protection against a draw).

Dortmund @ Arsenal
Picks: Dortmund Pick'em (-105) and Over 2.5 (-155)
Even with a head-to-head win, Arsenal cannot pass Dortmund in the table in this match. Dortmund have 4 wins in 4 tries, scoring 13 goals and conceding just 1. This is the match of the day so I gave you two picks - Dortmund is just in better form, and I expect something in the 3-1 or 3-2 range in their favor (but again, I like the protection against a 2-2 draw).

Olympiacos @ Atletico Madrid
Pick: Atletico -1 (-165)
Everyone is still alive in Group A, although Juve could essentially eliminate Malmo with a win in Sweden today. This matchup between the top two teams is an easy pick - Atletico are +7 and Old Limp Yakovs are -1. Easy. I almost went with -1.5 (+120), but I like the safety.

Juventus @ Malmo
Pick: Juve -1.5 (-125)
Confession time: I love Paul Pogba. I don't necessarily think Juventus are two goals better than Malmo, but I'm comfortable betting on Pogba/Tevez/Pirlo/Vidal and as this sentence goes on I like this pick more and more. Forza Juve!

Liverpool @ Ludogorets
Pick: Ludogorets Win/Draw (Even)
The second depressing match of the day. Neither team has a realistic shot at advancing, and even if they did they haven't been playing like teams that stand a chance against anyone. I'll use the same logic here and take the team with less drama.

Real Madrid @ Basel
Pick: Real -1.5 (-115)
The Bale/Ronando/Hames trio (and the other 8 guys) don't need a win. They don't even need a draw. They just need to not lose by 9 goals, and they clinch first place in the group. They just have a murderer's row of great soccer players. Even behind the big three (and with the All-World caliber players they're missing), their roster looks like a FIFA 2015 roster if you turned off the salary cap.

Monaco @ Bayer Leverkusen
Pick: Parlay Over 1.5 (-350) and Under 3.5 (-275) for a ML of -132
The Germans clinch first place with a win. Monaco moves to third place behind Zenit/Benfica if they lose. Both teams are going to be motivated, and this will probably be the second best match of the day. What worries me about this game: Monaco have won 1-0, lost 0-1, and drawn 0-0 twice. For what it's worth, that win was against Leverkusen. I got crafty with the pick because I have no idea how this game is going to turn out. Parlaying those two means we hit a nice payout of there are a total of 2 or 3 goals. The final will probably be 1-0 or 5-4. I hate betting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Round 5 Champions League Picks

If you are a mild gambler, there isn't anything that makes a day in the cube more enjoyable than betting on Euro soccer. Mid-week Champions League matches can turn a dreary Tuesday into a fist-pumping good time (as long as you hide it from your boss).

My picks for this afternoon (I picked all of the matches):

Early Games (12pm Eastern)

FC Porto @ BATE Borisov
Pick: Porto ML (-200)
Porto have 3 wins and a draw for 10 points through four matches, and a +9 goal differential. At this stage in group play, you worry about teams resting back with a comfortable lead. However, Chelsea lead Group G (by a wide margin) and nobody wants to get stuck playing Chelsea. With only a 2 point lead over Shakhtar Donetsk, Porto really need to get all three out of this tilt.

Roma @ CSKA Moscow
Pick: Over 2.5 (-115)
I can't fathom how this over pays out as much as it does. Through 4 matches, Roma have scored 7 goals and conceded 11. CSKA have scored 5 and conceded 9. That's averages of 4+ and 3+. Easy over.

Late Games (2:45pm Eastern)

Athletic Bilbao @ Shakhtar Donetsk
Pick: Shaq ML (-155)
I used the same graphic as the Porto match because the logic is exactly the same. Those two are going to go all out because nobody wants to play Chelsea.

Bayern Munich @ Manchester City
Pick: Man City +170 (pick 'em)
I know I'm going to be kicking myself this afternoon when Bayern wins 6-1, but those odds are too nice to pass up. I keep telling myself that Bayern doesn't need a win, City badly needs a win, and Sergio Aguero is a beast (even though he's slightly injured - Jesus, this is a horrible pick). 

Barcelona @ APOEL
Pick: Barca -1.5 (-130)
Similar to Porto/Shaq battling to avoid Chelsea, Barca and PSG are battling to avoid Bayern. PSG currently has a 1 point edge over the Messis, so it's another situation where they won't be resting on their laurels. I did, however, take the -1.5 instead of the -2. It just feels safer. 

Ajax @ PSG
Pick: PSG -1.5 (Even)
Same logic as the Barca pick. Literally just change the names. 

Chelsea @ FC Schalke
Pick: Over 2.5 (-115)
Chelsea have scored 9 and conceded 2; Schalke have scored 8 and conceded 9. Chelsea's top half will likely be Costa, Hazard, Oscar, Schurrle, Matic, Fabregas. I had to double check to make sure that 2.5 wasn't their team total. It's for both teams, for the whole game? Yes please. 

Maribor @ Sporting Lisbon
Pick: Maribor +1.5 (-105)
Zig when everyone zags! Maribor is being talked about like they are the worst team at this dance, but they have more points than Athletic Bilbao/APOEL/Ajax/Galatasaray/Anderlecht/Manchester City. Even with the 6-0 beatdown they took against Chelsea, Maribor have a better goal differential than three other teams. I don't have the balls to take the +1000 moneyline, so give me a goal and a half and I'm closing this out with my favorite pick of the afternoon. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Week 14 Saturday Picks

We are back! Picks went 3/4 last night (including staying away from both Villanova -20 and the over in that game, which almost counts as another win). The money train is rolling into the weekend, although it's a fairly weak one. Not a ton of big-time matchups, but there are some games for us to load up for rivalry week. Here are ten:

Noon games

Minnesota @ Nebraska
Line: Nebraska -10

Quote: "Sometimes our guys put so much pressure on themselves to win that they're not playing to win, they're playing not to lose. That's a bad recipe." - Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini (Fox Sports)
Nebraska just got drubbed by Wisconsin, so I'm a little surprised they are favored so significantly. Given that Melvin Gordon was so dominant last week, you'd think a Minnesota team averaging 223 rushing yards per game would get a little more respect. To be clear, though, last week was a serious outlier for Nebraska's run defense (124 yards per game), and David Cobb is not Melvin Gordon.

On the other side, Minnesota has been all over the place. They won at Michigan (for which they get way too much credit), but got killed at TCU. They blew out Iowa, but they lost at Illinois,

Pick: Minnesota +10 to ruin senior day

Marshall @ UAB
Line: Marshall -20

Obviously, hoping for Marshall to lose is the "watch the world burn" pick of the week. I don't think this is the game they lose - but three scores is a lot for any team except Marshall. Their only games within three touchdowns: @ Miami (won by 15) and home against Florida Atlantic (won by 19), Those teams are a combined 5-16 (4-9 in their divisions). UAB is 5-5 (3-3 in the division), and the Fire Dragons have only lost by 20+ once - 45-17 at Arkansas. They lost to Mississippi State by 13 at Mississippi State.

Pick: UAB +20. Watch the world burn/dragons/Targaryen. Easy choice.

Washington State @ Arizona State
Line: ASU -16, over/under 72

The Sun Devils will get into the 30s at least. Expect them to give up at least 24 points (and probably more), so to cover that spread they'd have to get up into the 40s.  They've only done that one time this year in a real game (55 against Notre Dame).

Pick: Washington State +16. That's just too many points

Afternoon games

Maryland @ Michigan
Line: Michigan -5

Michigan needs a win to get into a bowl game. They are definitely not winning at Ohio State next week, so they need to beat Maryland. The weather is going to be shit, which favors Michigan's offense and defense. The Wolverines dismissed a key d-lineman from the team (domestic violence/going pro next week), but it's Michigan so his replacements should be fine.

Pick: Michigan -5 for some life before OSU beats them by 28

Now for a couple of quick hits in the afternoon block:

Boston College @ Florida State
Line: FSU -17
Pick: You have to take BC +17 here. It's as simple as that.

Ole Miss @ Arkansas
Line: Ole Miss -3.5
Pick: Ole Miss -3.5. Another really simple one. They're just a lot better.

Louisville @ Notre Dame
Line: ND -3.5
Pick: One of the most underrated teams in the country getting points against one of the most overrated team in the country? Louisville +3.5, please and thank you.

Night games

Missouri @ Tennessee
Line: Tennessee -3.5, over/under 49

Quote: "Josh Dobbs is simply incredible. I can't remember seeing a mid-season replacement ever make this much difference for a football team. Dobbs took over a putrid Tennessee offense that looked incapable of scoring against anyone and has been extraordinary." Outkick the Coverage
The over opened at 49, and will get up into the 50s by gametime. It doesn't matter. It's going way over. As for picking a team to win, I think it's going to be a very close game. I'd stay away but if you're getting more than a field goal for either team, I like it (just kidding I hate it either way).

Pick: Over 49

Vanderbilt @ Mississippi State
Line: Miss St -30
Pick: Vandy +30. Don't be an idiot.

Line: UCLA -3.5

Pro-UCLA Quote: (after there were issue lighting the pep rally bonfire) "We don't need a friggin' fire to get it fucking turnt up!" -UCLA coach Jim Mora

Pro-USC quote: "USC has been an underdog just twice this season, at Stanford and at Arizona. The Trojans won and covered both of those matchups." Sporting News

Pick: Trojans

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Night Picks

Plain and simple, we have to be better than last night. As the old saying goes, shooters have to keep shooting the ball until it goes in. Luckily, it's Thursday so there are quite a few big games to choose from.

NFL - Chiefs @ Raiders (+7.5), 8:25pm

The Chiefs are the league's fourth-best running team. The rest of the top five is Seattle, Dallas, Houston, New York Jets. The Raiders have the 27th-best rushing defense in terms of yards per game. Simple logic would say that KC is going to run all over them and win by a million.

But not so fast! As it turns out, the Raiders have played the Jets, Texans, and Seahawks. They lost all three (obviously, because they're 0-10), but the only team to win by more than a touchdown was Houston, 30-14. But that was a game where Oakland lost two fumbles, threw two interceptions, and did not force a turnover. For the season, they average 1.4 turnovers and 0.9 takeaways.

I like the Raiders, especially if you're getting more than a touchdown. Some other potential plays are Oakland +13.5 (-200), +14.5 (-230), and +17.5 (-350). To get really crafty, if you parlay Oakland +14.5 with the Chiefs -380 moneyline, you end up with a line of -123 on "Chiefs To Win By 14 Or Less".

NCAA - #10 Texas (-6) vs. #25 Iowa (Game at Madison Square Garden), 7pm
NCAA - #22 SMU @ Indiana (+3), 8pm
NCAA - #23 Syracuse (-5) @ Cal (Game at Madison Square Garden), 9pm

National championship odds from Bovada:

  • Texas at 33/1, Iowa at 100/1
  • SMU at 66/1, Indiana at 100/1
  • Syracuse at 40/1, Cal at 300/1
Quote: "SMU earned its first preseason ranking in 30 years but likely won't be included in next week's poll after coming up short in a tough environment its last time out." ESPN

I like the two better teams with the more prestigious programs in the primetime MSG games. And I like Indiana as a slight home underdog because I don't trust SMU (who already lost at Gonzaga) to be able to go into a Big 10 team's house and beat them.

Last Night Went Great!

We felt pretty good about Oklahoma -5 (ended up being -6) and Wake Forest +13 (ended up being +14). We thought OU was a much better team than Creighton and we didn't think Arkansas was two touchdowns better than WFU. So naturally....

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Night Basketball Picks

Last night, we got a poor, POOR display out of UMass. Really, really bad. Northern Illinois covered their spread though, and so the damage is essentially zero (and also that's how Vegas makes their money).

MACtion is tough, though. We already knew that. So let's change gears and exploit some early-season question marks in the college basketball world. There are two games featuring teams from major conferences (the Big East still counts, right?):

Oklahoma (-220) @ Creighton (+185), 7pm on Fox Sports 1
Line: Oklahoma -5.5

Quote: "TaShawn Thomas is a season-changing addition for Oklahoma. The Sooners are going to be able to beat teams from the outside, in the paint and in transition." SB Nation

Oklahoma is projected to finish in the top half of the Big 12 (although probably in the second tier behind the Kansas-Texas-Iowa State trio). In addition to the newly-approved Thomas, they are returning talent in the frontcourt and backcourt. Read the SB Nation post for the details there, but this should be a good season for them. Creighton will be a middle-of-the-pack Big East team, so I don't think they have a shot here, even at home.

Pick: Oklahoma -5.5

Wake Forest (+700) @ Arkansas (-1100), 9pm on SEC Network
Line: Arkansas -13.5

Arkansas is projected to finish in the top third of the SEC, somewhere on the tier below Kentucky (along with Florida, Georgia, and LSU). Wake Forest is expected to be in the bottom 4-5 teams of the 15-team ACC. WFU coach Danny Manning is in his first season with the team. Arkansas forward Bobby Portis is going to be a lottery pick. 

This game scares me. Arkansas is clearly the better team, and they could use a big win over a traditionally decent team to make a statement. But 13.5 is a lot of points, and I'm nervous that Wake is a notch better than Alabama State, who put up 79 against Arkansas (but lost by 18). In the end, I'm taking the Deeks to cover the two touchdowns because they have talented guards, decent enough depth at forward, and a promising coach in Danny Manning (who won a national title at Kansas and the Conference USA title at Tulsa). Add it all up, and 13.5 is just too much.

Pick: Wake Forest +13.5

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Night MACtion Preview: Week 12

Last week we went 0-2 on Friday, 3-3 on Saturday, and then we won two NFL games on Sunday so the whole weekend was a wash. And honestly, that's when gambling in the most fun.

Kidding, obviously. It's the most fun when you win everything. Here are your winners tonight:

UMass @ Akron, 7pm
Line: Akron -7

Quote: "The Massachusetts football team won’t know for certain whether starting quarterback Blake Frohnapfel will be healthy enough to face Akron on Tuesday until game time, as he continues to deal with a right leg injury." Daily Collegian

Analysis: That explains why UMass is getting 7 points even though they've won 3 of their last 4 and Akron are 0-for-4 in the same stretch. 

Bonus quote from the same post: "Redshirt freshman Austin Whipple assumed Frohnapfel’s duties throughout the week. UMass coach Mark Whipple said he isn’t all that worried about his son assuming the starting role."

The case for UMass: Frohnapfel has lead the MAC in passing yards this season, so his loss definitely hurts UMass (who are currently 6th in the nation with 340.5 passing yards per game). However, Whipple walked on to Bill O'Brien's team at Penn State and then also played for James Franklin. So I think they will actually try to continue the passing attack that features four receivers with 4+ touchdowns and three more with 100+ yards on the season (am I reaching too far?). 

However, if UMass does look to the ground, the team averages 108 rushing yards per game and will be licking their chops against an Akron team that has given up 310 to Buffalo (who averaged 151 before that game) and 219 to Bowling Green (165 before that game) in the past two weeks. 

The case for Akron: The other team is replacing the top QB in the conference with the coach's kid who hasn't played a snap since prep school.

Pick: In looking up other previews for this game, I found myself really getting on this Whipple train. The dad is the head coach. The brother is the tight ends coach. The prodigal son is the quarterback, And we're getting a touchdown? I'm in on Minutemen +7 and I cannot fucking wait to watch this game.

Northern Illinois @ Ohio, 7pm
Line: Northern Illinois -3

Quote: "The Huskies are 32-0 when they run the ball 45 times or more." Chicago Tribune

Analysis: I don't know how far back that stat goes. Is that forever? Basically they've been a great running team for a long time, and this season they're 14th in the nation (and first in the conference) with 261 rushing yards per game. Following them are Toledo (247), W Michigan (192), Bowling Green (175), and C Michigan (167). 

The case for Northern Illinois: Ohio has NOT done well with stopping those other rushing attacks, especially those directional Michigan schools:
  • Western Michigan: 42 points, 530 total yards, 186 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns
  • Central Michigan: 28 points, 467 total yards, 234 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
The case for Ohio: The Huskies want to get into the 30's. The Bobcats want to keep them around 20, like they did with Buffalo (14), Akron (20), E Illinois (19), Kent State (14), and Kentucky (20, although they lost 20-3). The only teams to hold the Huskies under 20 points this year are Arkansas (which doesn't really count) and Central Michigan.  C-Mich (little MAC slang for you) outgained Northern Illinois by 211 yards, including a surprising 173 rushing yards. 

Pick: Ask yourself two questions. Is Ohio as good as an SEC West team? Is Ohio capable out out-rushing Northern Illinois by a 3-1 ratio? Don't overthink it. Huskies -3.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week 12 College Football Betting Guide

(Editor's note: This is copied and pasted from an e-mail that I sent Dag this morning, with a few minor edits to make it a little easier to follow. The most logical move would be to bet the exact opposite of what we end up betting. Last night, we had USC -14 and the over (72). I fell asleep when the score was 31-2. Feeling good. Easy money. The final score was 38-31. Which, if you are keeping score at home, makes us 0-2 already on the weekend.)

Yeah, and how do you think I feel?

Saturday's notable lines:

Noon Games

Temple @ Penn State - Line is PSU -11
Quote: "One big play could result in a Temple victory in what has the potential to be a very low-scoring affair." Black Shoe Diaries
Summary: Both teams are stronger on defense that they are on offense. Temple's D gives up 18.1 points per game, has 25 takeaways and has scored six defensive touchdowns. As much as we like Christian Babyface Hackenberg, his 7-12 TD-INT ratio does not seem ideal for this situation. 
Pick: Temple +11. I don't know if they win straight up, but the thought of this game reaching the point where there is an 11 point difference doesn't make sense to me. I'm expecting something in the teens on both sides and it will not be fun to watch. 

Ohio State @ Minnesota - Line is OSU -14
Quote: "I have no idea what is going to happen in this game" me

Clemson @ Georgia Tech - Line is Clemson -3
Quote: "Georgia Tech averages 335.6 yards rushing per game. Clemson allows an average of only 90.9 yards rushing." Fox Sports
Related: If you didn't know, Georgia Tech runs the ball a lot. They would seem to be a slightly worse team than Clemson, but I think a lot of that has to do with Clemson's success over the past few years. Will GT be able to get the run game going against the Clemson D? Todd Gurley went for 198 and 3 touchdowns against Clemson, in a game where Nick Chubb also went for 70 and a score. They choked away the FSU game but only gave up 13 rushing yards (I think - somehow Karlos Williams went for 45 and a TD but the team total was 13 yards). Against the two best teams they've played so far (Duke and Miami), Ga Tech ran for 282 and 318 yards, and both of those teams have fairly stingy defenses - although admittedly a notch below Clemson's. 
Pick: Tech +3 at home. 

South Carolina @ Florida - Line is UF -7
Summary: Florida's 4-3 SEC record is inflated because three of those wins are against Kentucky (in 3 OT's), Tennessee (by 1 point), and Vandy - so it's a lot of beating bad teams. That being said, SC has lost to A&M, Mizzou, Kentucky, Auburn (okay), and Tennessee. So they definitely could be considered a 'bad team'.
Pick: I like Florida but I'd like it more if it moved inside a touchdown. 

Afternoon Games

TCU @ Kansas - Line is TCU -28.5
Baylor beat Kansas 60-14. TCU knows they have to come close to that because they're going to be fighting Baylor's resume. I think they have to cover. 
Pick: TCU -28.5 (and I think it's stealing).

Auburn @ Georgia - Line is UGA -2
The top two rushing offenses in the SEC. The next 4 are MSU, Arkansas, LSU, and Bama. Georgia won by 13 at Arkansas. Auburn won by 24 at home to Arkansas, beat LSU by 34, lost at Miss St. Gurley's back, Chubb's killing it. 
Pick: Georgia is much better than Arkansas and LSU, and I'd put them in the same category as Miss St. I like them at home and I think 2 points is a generous spread. 

Night Games

Missouri @ Texas A&M - Line is TXAM -4.5 
Quote: "He's one of the great competitors I've ever been around. I'd put him in my top five since I've been coaching," coach Gary Pinkel said. Sports Illustrated (This was about D-lineman Shane Ray). Gary is the winningest coach in Toledo and Missouri history, and has coached Brad Smith, Ziggy Hood, Jeremy Maclin, Blaine Gabbert, Aldon Smith, Sheldon Richardson, and Michael Sam. I don't think this has too much to do with the outcome of the game but I thought that was a cool fun fact. 
Summary: The A&M story is well known. Mizzou has beaten everybody they've been supposed to beat (except Indiana), and outside of the waxing they took at home against Georgia, they've had a decent year and could challenge Georgia for the SEC East. 
Pick: idk

Miss St @ Alabama - Line is Tide -8.5
Quote: "The Tide has won three of four matchups with No. 1 teams over the past five seasons and outscored them collectively 101-36." ABC News
Summary: My gut says Bama wins by about 20. But TJ Yeldon sprained his ankle last week. 
But Wait! Bonus Quote!: "They probably have more 5-star players sitting on the bench who can't get a rep than we have on our entire roster," Mullen said.
So I'm not worried about depth. Yeldon only accounts for 36% of Bama's carries, 37% of their rushing yards, and 26% of rushing touchdowns. 
A few other bullets:
  • This game has the two highest-rated quarterbacks in the SEC (Sims actually edges Dak by 0.5 points). 
  • Josh Robinson (MSU) is the second-leading rusher in the conference, and Dak is number 8. 
  • Amari Cooper (Bama) is the conference's leading receiver by almost 500 yards. Seriously. He has 1215 yards, and Pharoh Cooper (no relation, I think?) is in second with 786. 
  • Total offense: edge to MSU 
  • Passing attack: edge to Bama
  • Rushing attack: edge to MSU
  • Total defense is about a wash
  • Pass defense: edge to Bama (heavily)
  • Rush defense edge to Bama. 
Pick: Bama -8.5. It's high, but Sims is going to tear apart the MSU defense. Teams are about even everywhere else, but the highest rated quarterback (and Saban) against the worst pass defense in the SEC (300.6 yards per game!) is going to kill this cinderella story. (Bonus pick: Bo puts the nails in their coffin in two weeks)

Florida State @ Miami - Line is FSU -3
A very perplexing line, but I don't want to think too much into it. FSU has to be the play. Nole Tide!