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The Triple Option: College football Week 5 best picks and predictions

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So, something fun happened this week. I got a new car! A Toyota C-HR to be exact. I think it’s pretty cool looking. My boss called it an Autobot. Which of course, as a huge nerd, I instantly loved.

That said, there’s a lot of steps that come into play when buying a new car. And although the search for that vehicle is exciting, it sure can be rigorous. From determining your budget, and figuring out your personal or family needs. To test drives and negotiating the best price you can. It’s a lot.

Evaluating college football teams follows a lot of these same principles and can be just as rigorous. But when that bet hits on Saturday it feels an awful lot like gripping the wheel of your brand new rig and taking it for a rip on the highway for the first time. Pretty awesome.

So, who is the fancy new car on the college football lot? For me, that’s Auburn. The Tigers are 4-0 SU/ATS and already have two Top 25 wins, including one of the most impressive victories of the college football season thus far – a 27-21 comeback win over Oregon (who actually still looks like one heck of a football team) in their opening game.

Heading into this season, everyone knew about the Tigers talent on the defensive line, but was there a team to go around Derrick Brown and Co.? Well, nothing is newer and shinier than becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Auburn since 1946. And that’s what exactly what Bo Nix has done.

After a bit of a rocky start in that Oregon game, Nix has been exactly what the Tigers have needed. He’s been efficient and poised when he’s had to be. Nix hasn’t thrown a pick since that first game, and has 645 yards passing with five touchdowns, while adding another 117 and a score on the ground.

He’s also been supported by a strong rushing attack headed by JaTarvious Whitlow, that ranks 22nd in the country in yards per attempt. And Saturday, they’ll go up against a Mississippi State team that is not what it once was on defense. For example: The Bulldogs ranks 81st in the country giving up 4.5 yards per carry.

On the other side, the Tigers have arguably the best defensive line in the country, that already has 11 and haven’t allowed more than 21 points in a game this season. The Bulldogs rely on their run game, but their offensive line is banged up and the Tigers allow just 3.1 yards per attempt. If Auburn can stuff the run (which they are very capable of), it could be a very long day for whomever is under center for Mississippi State.

So, here’s hoping the Tigers roll out like my new Autobot and get us an easy cover this week.

Pick: Auburn -9.5

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS AT NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (-13, 49 @ BETAMERICA)

This matchup between Virginia and Notre Dame is the low-key Game of the Week. Despite the loss in Athens last Saturday, the Irish proved they were worthy of their Top 10 ranking, while the Cavaliers come into this one undefeated, this will clearly be their toughest competition to date.

Notre Dame easily covered the 15.5-point spread against Georgia last week thanks to the defense doing a good job of containing Jake Fromm and Ian Book putting up some respectable numbers against a very strong Bulldogs defense.

But the Irish will have to go up against another strong defense in this one. Bronco Mendenhall’s unit ranks 14th in the country in total yards allowed and are particularly good at stuffing the run. The Cavs are allowing just 2.3 yards per carry this season, seventh best in the nation. But the secondary is almost as strong led by star corner Bryce Hall.

People may be doubting Virginia here after its uninspiring performance against Old Dominion last week. But that was about as textbook of a lookahead spot as there is.

The Cavs have another thing going for them in this one. And that is quarterback Bryce Perkins. For my money, he is the best signal caller in the ACC not named Trevor Lawrence. He is a true dual-threat quarterback with 843 yards passing and six touchdowns on a 65 percent completion rate and also leads the Cavs in rushing with 183 yards and another two scores.

This is the biggest game for the Cavaliers in years and they’re going to be jacked to be playing in South Bend. I don’t expect Virginia to win, but if Perkins can limit the turnovers this defense is good enough to keep this one within the number. Plus, this is a bit of a letdown spot for the Irish after that close lose to Georgia.

Pick: Virginia +13

TEXAS A&M AGGIES AT ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (+23.5, 61 @ BETAMERICA)

It’s fair to have expected a little more from Texas A&M this season. Kellen Mond has some big numbers, but he and the Aggies haven’t performed as well as fans would have hoped in their two biggest games against Clemson and last week against Auburn.

That said, the Aggies will be hungry for a win in Saturday’s Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium against rival Arkansas. And you can expect A&M to take out some frustrations in this one.

Mond has put up 1,082 yards through the first four games and now he gets to go up against a Razorbacks defense that allowed San Jose State’s Josh Love to throw for over 400 yards in last week’s shocking 31-24 home loss to the Spartans. Yes, an SEC team lost outright at home as 20-point faves to a San Jose State team that got blown out by Tulsa. No offense to the Golden Hurricane, it’s just a really bad look for the SEC.

Arkansas quarterback Nick Starkel goes up against his former team and he’s got a good arm, but the Hogs offensive line is shaky at best, and he is prone to making bed decisions under pressure. To make things tougher, the Aggies secondary is probably the best part of their defense, allowing just 165 yards per game through the air.

Despite the issues in big games, the Aggies are still 3-1 ATS this season and have done well covering large spreads. But whether or not A&M can cover this number, all comes down to Mond. He an huck it with the best of ‘em and if he has a good game the Aggies get the job done against what is a mess of a Razorbacks team.

Pick: Texas A&M -23.5

Last week: 2-1
Season to date: 6-5-1

Unbeaten Aztecs to start hot, and the NCAA basketball best bets you need to make this weekend

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The San Diego State Aztecs will look to keep their perfect season going on Sunday, while Texas Tech and Kentucky tangle in a matchup between two Top-20 teams on Saturday night. Rohit Ponnaiya digs into the college basketball odds and brings you his favorite bets and predictions for the weekend.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

The game of the night Friday will take place in the Big East as Marquette tangles with Butler. After falling 76-61 to Villanova on Tuesday (which made us a bit of money), Butler has now lost three straight games after beginning the season with a 15-1 record. In Butler’s last three games they’ve allowed 112.3 points per 100 possessions and a large reason for that is that they’ve been sending opposing teams to the line. Over that three game span they’ve given foes an average of 26.7 free throw attempts per game.

That’s bad news against a Marquette squad that has scored at least 82 points in each of it’s last three games and is led by the leading scorer in the country in Markus Howard. Howard has averaged 35 points per game over his last five contests and has averaged 12.5 FTA over his last two. As a team the Golden Eagles know how to get to the line, attempting 23.6 free throws per game, 18th highest in the country. We like the Over 64.5 on Marquette’s team total. 

EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS

Two Top-20 teams face off in the Lone Star State on Saturday as the Kentucky Wildcats travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech at 6:00 p.m ET. This matchup should get plenty of action with the Red Raiders coming off a Final Four finish while Kentucky is…well Kentucky.

Texas Tech is coming off a road loss against TCU but is 9-1 at home. Chris Beard’s Red Raiders are known for their defensive intensity and this year’s squad ranks 7th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency according to the KenPom rating system. That said, Kentucky ranks 42nd in defensive efficiency and 32nd in offensive efficiency (while Texas Tech ranks 97th on offense).

Kentucky has three guards (Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley and Tyrese Maxey) that love to apply pressure on opposing ball-handlers while also being able to create their own shot. With Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, Calipari’s squad has a (pardon the pun) big edge in size and rebounding ability. And unlike past editions of the Wildcats, this team has plenty of veteran experience so don’t expect them to be rattled playing in hostile territory.

We’re expecting Texas Tech to have the chalk and backing UK as the likely underdog, but if public action makes the Wildcats the faves the value will be on the Red Raiders.

HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN DEVILS

It’s the battle of Arizona on Saturday night as the Arizona State Sun Devils host the Arizona Wildcats. These teams met up on January 4, with the Wildcats routing ASU by a score of 75-47. But don’t expect to see a repeat of that score with the Sun Devils now enjoying home-court advantage.

The Wildcats led by guard Nico Mannion and big man Zeke Nnaji are 13-5 but they have been very beatable when playing outside of Tucson. They’re 9-2 ATS at home but just 1-6 ATS on the road and at neutral sites. They have an average scoring margin of plus-26.6 ppg at home but that falls to minus-1 ppg away from home.

The Sun Devils also play way better in front of their home crowd, outscoring opponents by a margin of plus-15.7 ppg in Tempe, compared to minus-7.2 ppg when they have to travel. Take the home side to cover as underdogs.

THE LAST OF THE UNBEATENS

The last unbeaten team in the country are the No. 4 San Diego Aztecs who head to Vegas to take on the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels on Sunday. The Aztecs have an aggressive defense and have been holding opponents to just 56.7 ppg on 36.7 percent shooting. But SDSU has been effective on the offensive end of the floor as well, ranking 14th in the country in offensive efficiency.

UNLV has been solid, winning seven of the their last nine games and going 6-3 ATS, but they might be out of their depth here. Their two losses during that span were by 14 points against Nevada and seven points against Boise State. The Aztecs beat Nevada by 13 points and clobbered BSU by 18 after leading by 23 points at halftime.

UNLV has been sloppy with the ball turning the ball over 14.6 times per game, second-worst among all Mountain West teams. SDSU has just 11.1 turnovers per game on offense while their pesky defense forces 15.2 TO per game. The full game spread might be a bit too rich for our blood but with the Aztecs fifth in the nation with an average first-half scoring margin of plus-9.2 ppg, look for them to cover the 1H spread. 

MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: DAYTON (17-2 SU, 11-8 ATS, 13-6 O/U)

Dayton is flying up the rankings currently sitting at No. 7. Their 17-2 record is even more impressive when you consider that both defeats were in overtime to quality opponents, falling 90-84 to Kansas and 78-76 to Colorado.

Led by forward Obi Toppin (19.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 62.3 percent shooting) the Flyers are first in the country in field goal percentage at 52.5 percent and rank third in scoring with 83 ppg. On Saturday they take on the Richmond Spiders who can also fill up the basket converting at a clip of 47.5 percent from the field, including a sizzling 57.6 percent from the floor over their last three games. The Over is worth looking at.

NATIONAL TITLE ODDS

Gonzaga isn’t a program to sleep on anymore, currently sitting at No. 1 in the polls and with the best odds to win the National Championship at +1000. The Zags have the top rated offense in the nation, putting up 88.8 ppg on 50.6 percent shooting and those numbers jump up to 93.5 ppg and 52.5 percent at home.

On Saturday, Gonzaga hosts Pacific and will probably be favored by more than 20 points. Gonzaga is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings at home between the two teams dating back to 2016, and the average score of those games was 80-52 in favor of Gonzaga.

If you want to look at a team that’s tumbled down the odds board look no further than the Memphis Tigers who came into the season at +1300 after a terrific recruiting class. After top freshman James Wiseman was suspended and then chose to leave the school, Memphis has looked ugly, coming off a 80-40 smackdown at the hands of Tulsa on Wednesday night. The Tigers currently sit at +6000 odds and even that might be generous. Memphis will try to get back on track on Saturday as they host SMU.

BETTING TRENDS

• By holding Memphis to just 40 points, Tulsa managed to cash the Under for the sixth game in a row. The Golden Hurricanes are 15-4 to the Under and will take on UConn on Sunday. Thanks to a defense that ranks inside the Top-50 teams in the country in opponent FG percentage and an offense that ranks outside the Top-250 in FG percentage, the Huskies have also been a great Under bet, going below the total in 12 of their last 16 contests.

• Virginia has been awful on offense, terrific on defense and plays at the slowest pace in Div 1. But oddsmakers might set the total for their Sunday matchup on the road against Wake Forest a tad too low. The Demon Deacons have gone 8-0-1 to the Over in their last nine games and are 7-1 O/U at home this season.

• Austin Peay is 7-0 ATS in their last seven games overall and is a perfect 6-0 ATS at home this season. On Saturday, the Governors will host the Belmont Bruins in a Ohio Valley Conference matchup. The Bruins are coming off a 10-point loss on the road against Murray State and have failed to cover in their last two away contests.

NHL Midseason betting review: Stanley Cup futures odds and best bets

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With the NHL heading into the All-Star break we take a look the updated futures odds to win the Stanley Cup as well as the best and worst teams to wager on in terms of Moneyline, Puckline and Over/Under bets.

Despite Washington leading the way for the Presidents’ Trophy this season, Tampa Bay still has the best odds to win the Stanley Cup. The Lightning are followed by the Boston Bruins and the defending Stanley Cup champions the St. Louis Blues.

On the other hand, the Toronto Maple Leafs have fallen outside the Top-5 and now sit at +2000, while the San Jose Sharks have plummeted from a Stanley Cup contender to a +8000 long shot.

Here are every teams’ odds to win the Stanley Cup, courtesy of the Superbook at Westgate:

Teams Odds to win Stanley Cup (as of Jan 23)
Tampa Bay Lightning +600
Boston Bruins +800
St. Louis Blues +800
Washington Capitals +1,000
Colorado Avalanche +1,000
Vegas Golden Knights +1,000
Pittsburgh Penguins +1,200
Dallas Stars +1,200
Arizona Coyotes +1,600
Florida Panthers +2,000
Toronto Maple Leafs +2,000
Vancouver Canucks +2,000
Edmonton Oilers +2,500
Calgary Flames +2,500
New York Islanders +4,000
Carolina Hurricanes +4,000
Nashville Predators +4,000
Columbus Blue Jackets +4,000
Philadelphia Flyers +5,000
Winnpeg Jets +5,000
Minnesota Wild +6,000
San Jose Sharks +8,000
Montreal Canadiens +10,000
New York Rangers +10,000
Buffalo Sabres +10,000
Chicago Blackhawks +10,000
Los Angelas Kings +50,000
Anahiem Ducks +100,000
Ottawa Senators +200,000
New Jersey Devils +200,000
Detroit Red Wings +1,000,000

The Capitals don’t just have the best record in the league, they’ve also been the best Over bet as well as the top team to back on the moneyline returning a profit of +9.35 units for bettors this season.

Thanks to rookie goalie Elvis Merzlikins and a group of forwards that can’t find the back of the net, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been the NHL’s best Under bet. The top team to back on the puckline as a favorite has been the surprising Vancouver Canucks who lead the Pacific Division.

While the Golden Knights were sweating sportsbooks when they made their Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, oddsmakers have made some of that money back this season as the Knights have been the second-worst money team in the league. The Knights are still way ahead of Detroit who has cost bettors dearly with a loss of almost 20 units.

BEST OVER BETS

Teams Over/Under
Washington Capitals 31-18
Florida Panthers 30-17
Nashville Predators 28-17
Toronto Maple Leafs 28-18
Tampa Bay Lightning 27-20

BEST UNDER BETS

Teams Over/Under
Colombus Blue Jackets 18-32
Dallas Stars 16-29
Carolina Hurricanes 21-29
San Jose Sharks 21-28
Calgary Flames 20-27

BEST MONEY BETS

Teams Total Money Won (based on 100$ bets)
Washington Capitals $935
New York Islanders $700
Colombus Blue Jackets $605
Pittsburgh Penguins $596
New York Rangers $567

WORST MONEY BETS

Teams Total Money Won (based on 100$ bets)
Detroit Red Wings $-1992
Las Vegas Golden Knights $-1010
Los Angelas Kings $-916
San Jose Sharks $-895
Toronto Maple Leafs $-829

BEST PUCKLINE TEAMS AT -1.5 

Teams Total Money Won as Puckline Favorite (PL record as favorite)
Vancouver Canucks $840 (11-12)
Colorado Avalanche $771 (14-14)
Chicago Blackhawks $480 (7-8)
Florida Panthers $410 (13-17)
New York Rangers $375 (5-5)