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The Triple Option: College football Week 4 best picks and predictions

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There is no tougher sport to handicap on a week-to-week basis than college football.

Example. Last week I picked Florida to cover 8-points at Kentucky mostly due to the edge at quarterback and a swarming defense, and a tiny bit due to the revenge factor. Well, the quarterback I liked (Feleipe Franks) didn’t look great early, then suffered a season ending ankle injury.

The Wildcats proceeded build a 21-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Then, a funny thing happened. Backup Kyle Trask got in a groove. He went 9-13 for 126 yards in leading two touchdown drives to give the Gators a 22-21 lead.

But after Kentucky missed a potential go-ahead field goal with less than a minute to go, it seemed that our bet was sunk. Then thanks to some Kentucky timeouts, Josh Hammond busted lose for 76 yards, as I busted off my couch, screaming at my television for the Gators back to take it to the house. All for a push.

College football, man. It’s hard to cap.

So, a losing week every now and then shouldn’t be a surprise. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it. So, we try to get back on track this week starting with an old favorite – the UCF Knights.

Hey everyone! If you haven’t heard, UCF is a legit college football power, not just a Group of 5 one. The Knights have outscored their opponents 155-41 on their way to a 3-0 SU/ATS record and looked super impressive in their beatdown of Stanford last week as they head into this weekend’s matchup at Pitt.

Oh, and the Hawaiian pipeline to UCF is a real thing. Dillon Gabriel has thrown for 716 yards and nine touchdowns with no picks. He goes up against a Pitt defense, that while ranks well, hasn’t faced an attacking UCF offense like this.

What always been overlooked aspect of this UCF squad, has been its defense. The Knights rank 13th in total defense and 12th in opponent yards per play at just 4.0. They face a struggling Pitt offense that hasn’t put up more than 20 points in a game since last November.

Simply put, UCF hasn’t scored less than 30 points since the 2016 Cure Bowl. And they’re looking for a second victory over a Power 5 team to boost their resume. If the Knights can get up early, the Panthers, who are in a bit of a letdown spot after a close loss to rival Penn State, won’t be able to keep up.

Pick: UCF -11

COLORADO BUFFALOES AT ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS (-8.5, 49)

It’s a trap!

But as I cram two movie references into two sentences, my boy Tony Stark would say, “Yeah, I don’t much care.” That’s right cause we’re taking down Thanos, I mean, this spread no matter what!

Sometimes you just look at a line and wonder what the books know that you don’t. Yes, the Sun Devils come into this matchup undefeated and off a big win at Michigan State as 15.5 underdogs. However, they scored just 10 points in that game and are averaging just 19.7 per contest this season. The Buffs have struggled on defense so far this year, but it’s been good enough to keep them in games. And this Sun Devils’ offense is not the toughest they’ve faced.

And yes, the Arizona State defense is good. But they’ve played Kent State, which ranks 125th in total offense, an offensively challenged Sparty team, and FCS Sacramento.

While Colorado is coming off its first loss of the season against a scrappy and well coached Air Force team, getting 8.5-points here seems like a bit of an overreaction. The Buffs still had a chance to win that game and are that close to being undefeated themselves.

If Colorado can give Steven Montez time in the pocket, he should be able to make some plays in the air, particularly to star wideout Laviska Shenault Jr. Kind of like they did last year, in the Buffs 28-21 win over the Sun Devils in Boulder. Montez threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns with no picks while Shenault hauled in 13 receptions for 127 yards and a score in that one.

Admittedly, the Sun Devils defense has improved since then, but I think it’s asking a lot of a team that has this much trouble scoring to cover a number this large. Especially considering that Colorado has a chance to win this outright.

Pick: Colorado +8.5

CAL GOLDEN BEARS AT OLE MISS REBELS (-2.5, 41.5)

Cal legitimately has one of the premier defenses in the country and is more than capable of handling the Ole Miss offense. While some might say the Rebels’ offense has found its grove, the last time they ran up against a defense close to this calibre, it was in Week 1 in Memphis when the Tigers held them to just 10 points.

While that game was on the road, the Golden Bears defense is on another level. They are allowing just 4.4 yards per play and have already snagged six turnovers, one year removed from ranking sixth in the country in takeaways.

Cal’s front seven will be able to shut down Jerrion Ealy and Scottie Phillips in the run game and will force Matt Corral into some bad decisions against what is arguably the nation’s best secondary. Corral only has one interception this season, but Memphis limited him to 9-19 passing and dropped a few catchable picks.

The early start time for a west coast team traveling east is always concerning, but if Chase Garbers can take care of the ball and Christopher Brown Jr. can do just enough damage on the ground, then Cal can lean on its defense to not only cover this spread, but win outright.

Pick: Cal +2.5

Last week’s picks: 0-2-1
Season to date: 4-4-2

VanVleet picks up where he left off in the playoffs, and the NBA bets you need to make Tuesday

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Opening day of the 2019-20 NBA season is here with the defending champion Toronto Raptors hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. The late matchup pairs the top two choices to win it all, according to the NBA betting odds, with the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the new-look Los Angeles Clippers. 

If you’re betting on the NBA openers, we have the best bets and prop predictions for Tuesday’s two games.

BIG CHANGES IN THE BIG EASY

The Pelicans sport one of the most overhauled rosters in the NBA after trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and draft picks. New Orleans then selected Zion Williamson first overall in the draft, but unfortunately, his debut will have to wait as he is expected to miss the first couple of weeks with a knee injury. Some more big pickups include Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick.

Although Redick is playing for a new squad this year, while with Philadelphia he had success versus the Raptors in the playoffs, shooting 43.9 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and scored 15 or more points in four of those seven postseason games. With an increased role on the Pelicans and some good shooting numbers, back Over his points total of 16.5 on PointsBet.

NO HANGOVER HERE

The Raptors kick their season off playing a double-header with the first game at home to the Pelicans. The 2018-2019 season saw the Raptors set franchise records in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, and 3-point shots made. A regression is expected with Toronto losing both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green but still finds itself a 7-point favorite in the season opener.

With the Championship banner being hoisted, rings handed out, and the Raptors looking to start the schedule strong, look for them to take care of business and cover at home as 7-point favorites.

RIGHT SAID FRED

With Toronto PG Kyle Lowry undergoing surgery on his finger in the offseason, don’t be surprised to see big numbers out of Fred VanVleet in the first few games of the schedule.

Last season, VanVleet averaged 27.5 minutes with 11 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. Although this is a revamped Pelicans roster with many new faces, New Orleans struggled to defend opposing point guards last year, allowing 23.3 points per game and the league’s highest assists per game average at 9.1 to that position. If he carries over his postseason play, VanVleet will be a major player and offensive contributor for the defending champs. Take Over his assists total of 4.5.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

The Lakers start their second season with LeBron James at the helm but has more support behind him with guys like Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and Danny Green. The Clippers were also busy in the offseason, adding MVP talents in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

George will not be playing in the opening game (out until November while recovering from shoulder surgery), which plays a major role in shaping this spread, which sees the Purple and Gold as short “home” favorites in the war for the Staples Center.

LeBron and the Lakers have a lot to prove after a terrible finish to 2018-19 and we like them to cover as 2.5-points favorites Tuesday.

DOWN TO DEFENSE

With both Leonard and Patrick Beverly on the floor, the Clippers will be a difficult team to score on. With George out of action and this L.A. offense not firing on all cylinders, the Clippers certainly have the defense to keep things close.

The Lakers have plenty of scoring options but miss out on the services of Kyle Kuzma (18.7 ppg in 2018-19), who will be sitting out in the opening game with a foot injury. While it’s Game 1 of an 82-game season, this Los Angeles rivalry could have playoff intensity right out of the gate. We like a lower-scoring game and the Under 225.5 points Tuesday night. 

Lakers vs Clippers NBA betting picks and predictions: Davis will dominate down low on opening night

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The 2019-2020 NBA season starts off with a bang tonight as two revamped teams with some of the best players in the world take to the court in Los Angeles as the Lakers face the Clippers. 

Expectations are sky-high for both teams after the Lakers added Anthony Davis as a running mate for Lebron James, while the Clippers are led by last year’s NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. These rivals will be highly motivated to begin the season with a win and stake an early claim as the best team in the league.

We break down the odds for the Battle of L.A. and give you five of our best bets and predictions.

QUICK HITTER

The biggest move the Lakers made in the offseason was obviously the addition of Anthony Davis. But he’s not the only new face with Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley all in line to receive significant minutes in their rotation.

The Clippers have also gone through a makeover adding Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Maurice Harkless. While George won’t play until at least mid-November after undergoing shoulder surgery, the other two should log major minutes.

Playing together in practice and the preseason is no substitute for the actual defensive intensity of an NBA game. So expect both offenses to take some time to gell and back the Under on the 1Q total.

PICK: First Quarter Under 58 (-115)

FIRST HALF BET

The first quarter might see from offensive jitters from both teams but they should begin to settle down after 12 minutes. Lebron James, in particular, should have little problem facilitating the offense while the underrated additions of Green and Cook should improve their three-point efficiency which was among the worst in the league last year.

On defense, they match up well with the Clippers with Lebron able to switch onto Leonard while Bradley can give Lou Williams fits. Rajon Rondo is listed as questionable with a calf injury but if he’s good to go that will be yet another Lakers defender that can pressure opposing ball-handlers.

The Lakers also have a height advantage which should help them win the battle on the boards and get more second chances. Bet on the Lakers to cover the short first-half spread.

PICK: First Half Lakers -1.5 (-120)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Davis looks like a great fit in the Lakers offense next to Lebron. The Brow can run the pick and roll, attack down low and hit jumpers when he needs to. He gets to face a Clippers team that was among the worst at defending inside last season, giving up 50.7 points per game in the paint. Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green will have a major mismatch on their hands against the Lakers star.

Last year Davis combined for 41.8 points, rebounds and assists per game but that includes a stretch towards the end of the season where New Orleans severely limited his minutes. Before the All-Star break, he combined for 45.2 points, rebounds, and assists per contest. Take the Over on his PRA total tonight.

PICK: Anthony Davis – Points, Rebounds and Assists Over 41.5 (-115)

 

FULL GAME TOTAL

The O/U for this game opened at 227 on Saturday and has already dropped to 224 and for good reason. The Clippers should be terrific at defending on the perimeter with Patrick Beverly and Leonard while the Lakers will miss Kyle Kuzma’s production on the offensive end of the floor. Kuzma averaged 18.7 ppg last season but the forward is still recovering from a foot injury.

The Lakers should be much improved at defending the rim with Davis and Howard, which will force Leonard and Lou Williams to carry the offensive load.

The Lakers added plenty of experience and size in the offseason. That might be a formula for winning but also means that they added older players and guys that prefer to set up in the half-court rather than running the floor all game. Expect them to play at a slower pace than last season and take the Under 224.

PICK: Under 224 (-110)

FULL GAME SIDE

As we enter this new era of “Super-Duos” in the NBA the Clippers could find themselves at a disadvantage without one half of their duo. Leonard will do his part on both ends of the floor but the Clippers will need a heroic display from Lou Williams and improved defensive play from their big men if they want to hang with the Lakeshow.

The Clips won’t have an answer for AD and Lebron will come out as healthy and as motivated as he’s been in years. As the season goes on, expect Lakers coach Frank Vogel to start resting his superstars, but he has said that there won’t be any minutes restrictions for Lebron or Davis at the start of the year. Count on the Lakers viewing this as a statement game and back them to pull off the win while covering.

PICK: Los Angeles Lakers -3.5 (-105)