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!