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College football Week 14 opening odds and early action: Will Buckeyes bounce back ATS?

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College football Week 14 features rivalry clashes that could significantly impact the College Football Playoff picture. Covers checks in on the opening odds and early action for four games.

No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 16 Auburn Tigers (+3.5)

Alabama won’t have Tua Tagovailoa the rest of the season, after a nasty hip injury suffered against Mississippi State, but Nick Saban’s troops are still certainly in the CFP discussion. In Week 13, Mac Jones and the Crimson Tide (10-1 SU, 6-5 ATS) practically had a bye, wiping out Western Carolina 66-3 as eye-popping 58.5-point home favorites.

Auburn’s CFP hopes fell by the wayside with three losses in a very difficult five-week stretch of Southeastern Conference play. Like ‘Bama, the Tigers (8-3 SU and ATS) also faced an FCS foe in Week 13, hammering Samford 52-0 as 45.5-point home faves.

“This line, which opened Alabama -3.5, would’ve likely been around 8 with a healthy Tua,” Chaprales said. “So a pretty sizable adjustment with Jones at the helm. The first move was to 4, though, so the market still seems to like ‘Bama in a road ‘dog spot.”

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 11 Michigan Wolverines (+9)

Ohio State was a spread-covering machine in Games 2-9, but hasn’t cashed the past two weeks, though it’s still right on track for a CFP bid. The Buckeyes (11-0 SU, 8-3 ATS) went off as 18-point home favorites against Penn State in Week 13, but let a 21-0 third-quarter lead tighten to 21-17 before going on to a 28-17 victory.

Michigan has no shot at the CFP, but would love to play spoiler against its archrival. The Wolverines (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) have won four in a row SU and five in a row ATS, downing Indiana 39-14 as 10-point road favorites in Week 13.

“The market appears to have finally caught up to Ohio State the past few weeks, while Michigan has been an ATM since around mid-October,” Chaprales said. “The first few bets have actually been on the Wolverines, pushing an opener of 9 down to 8, but it likely won’t be long before we see some Ohio State money start to come in.”

Indeed, the Buckeyes ticked up to -8.5 by Monday afternoon.

No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (+12)

Oklahoma could still find its way into the CFP, but must keep winning and might need some help along the way. The Sooners (10-1 SU, 4-7 ATS) were tested in each of their last four games, beginning with a loss at Kansas State. Last weekend, Oklahoma blew a 21-0 second-quarter lead against Texas Christian, but escaped with a 28-24 home win laying 19 points.

Oklahoma State would love nothing more than to win the annual Bedlam game and foil the Sooners’ CFP hopes. The Cowboys (8-3 SU, 8-2-1 ATS) are the No. 2 spread-covering team in the nation, though they’re coming off a push as 7-point favorites in a 20-13 win at West Virginia.

“Another game, another double-digit number for the Sooners, who have seemingly flirted with disaster on a weekly basis in similar spots,” Chaprales said. “That said, the public has continued to ride them, so it will be interesting to see if last week’s result finally turns the tables.”

Early action pushed the Sooners up to -12.5.

No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers at No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers (+2)

Minnesota is not out of the CFP conversation yet, but surely needs to win this week as a home ‘dog, then beat Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. And even that might not be enough. The Golden Gophers (10-1 SU, 7-3-1 ATS) rebounded from a loss at Iowa by topping Northwestern 38-22 giving 15.5 points on the road.

Wisconsin can not only upend a rival and win Paul Bunyan’s Axe this week, but would also claim the Big Ten West and a spot in the conference title game. The Badgers (9-2 SU, 6-5 ATS) beat Purdue 45-24 in Week 13, falling short of the cash as 24.5-point home favorites.

“Wisconsin has been more of a bet-on team than Minnesota, and the first few bets have laid the short number,” Chaprales said of bettors playing Wisconsin -2. “So I wouldn’t be surprised if the line inches closer to 3.”

In fact, the number ticked up to Badgers -2.5 by Monday afternoon.

 

PointsBet USA unveils partnership with Detroit Tigers

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In the absence of MLB games until – hopefully – later this month, MLB betting made some news Thursday with the announcement that PointsBet USA is now the official gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers. It’s the first such arrangement between a sports betting entity and an MLB team, made possible by PointsBet USA’s recent agreement with MLB designating the sportsbook as an authorized gaming operator by the league.

“The PointsBet team is excited to announce our groundbreaking deal with the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball, becoming the first legal sports betting operator in U.S. history to partner with an MLB franchise,” PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken said in a news release. “We offer the most betting options in the world on MLB games via our unique PointsBetting product, and we are excited to inject a unique and robust betting proposition into the great state of Michigan.”

Michigan legalized sports betting in December, for both brick-and-mortar and online operators, and books began taking bets in March. PointsBet USA is not only the first book to partner with an MLB franchise, but the first to partner with any Michigan-based professional sports team.

As part of the multi-year deal, PointsBet USA will have TV broadcast-visible branding at Comerica Park, a sponsored presence on the Tigers’ digital platforms, and will be integrated into The District Detroit app and the MLB Ballpark app.

“We are thrilled to welcome PointsBet as a gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers,” said Chris Granger, group president of sports and entertainment for Ilitch Holdings. “Our incredible fans will love the unique experiences and innovative offerings that PointsBet’s personalized platform provides. We look forward to the fan-friendly enhancements this will bring to the game-day experience in and around Comerica Park for years to come.”

NBA betting: Eight seeding games to bet when NBA returns

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NBA betting is back on the board with the NBA season restarting in Orlando after the COVID-19 shutdown. From July 30-August 14, the 22 remaining teams with NBA Championship aspirations will face off against each other to determine playoff seeding, so get ready for some exciting matchups.

We take a look at eight must-bet NBA seeding games to watch as the league returns to action.

Clippers vs Lakers (-1.5, 218.5), July 30, 9 p.m. ET

When the Los Angeles Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, take on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers, the NBA doesn’t get much better than this. Opening day and Christmas Day also featured this marquee matchup and the opening night of the restart in Orlando will mark the fourth time this season that these LA rivals have faced off.

The Lakers are third in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing 106.9 points per game, while the Clippers hold opponents to just 43.6 percent shooting from the field, also third-best in the league. With both teams coming in off lengthy breaks, there may be some rust on the offensive end of the floor making the Under 218.5 an intriguing play.

Betting trend to watch: The Clips won the first two meetings while the Lakers won the last one in March. The Under hit in each of those contests with an average score of 108.7-106.7 in favor of the Clippers.

Celtics vs Bucks (-5, 217.5), July 31, 6:30 p.m. ET

Barring an absolute collapse, the Milwaukee Bucks will wrap up the No. 1 seed in the East, but they will still likely want to play MVP front-runner Giannis Antetokounmpo in this one just to shake off the cobwebs after the break.

This could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals and it will be interesting to see how Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker looks after being hampered by knee issues following the All-Star break. Boston split the series with Milwaukee during the season and Walker torched the Bucks both times, scoring 32 points against them in November and putting up 40 on them in January.

Betting trend to watch: Milwaukee opened as a five-point favorite, with the total set at 217.5, but don’t count out the Celtics, who have gone an impressive 14-4 ATS as an underdog this season.

Rockets vs Mavericks (+1.5, 225.5), July 31, 9 p.m. ET

The battle between James Harden and Luka Doncic will be a treat for basketball fans, but the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks have plenty of firepower in addition to their All-NBA guards.

With the full game total for this contest opening at a reasonable 225.5, keep an eye on the first half total when it drops.

Betting trend to watch: Fast starts have been a trend for both squads, with Houston leading the league with 59.9 first-half points per game and Dallas second with 59.3 ppg. For good measure, the Rockets also rank 25th in the NBA in first-half scoring defense, surrendering 58.1 ppg.

Heat vs Nuggets (-1, 212.5), August 1, 1 p.m ET

Both the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets could see their seeding change dramatically based on how they perform in Orlando. Miami has an absolute gauntlet to run through with its first four games against Denver, Toronto, Boston and Milwaukee.

The Nuggets have long had a massive edge at home, due to the increased elevation at the Pepsi Center, and losing that advantage in Orlando could hurt. Then again, Miami could be in the same boat considering that they posted an average scoring margin of plus-9.3 ppg at home — and that plummeted to minus-2.7 in away contests.

Betting trend to watch: The Heat have been one of the highest-scoring teams in the league during the first quarter, but have really struggled to put the ball in the hoop at the end of games, averaging just 26 ppg in the fourth quarter. With Denver holding opponents to just 26.2 fourth-quarter points per game on the road, this is a trend you’ll want to consider when live betting in the final 12 minutes.

Bucks vs Rockets, August 2, 8:30 p.m. ET

It’s always a blast watching two MVP favorites face off against each other, and after Harden came up short against Antetokounmpo last year there seems to be a lack of respect between the two superstars. The Greek Freak took a potshot at Harden when he selected his team during All-Star weekend, with the Rockets guard responding with, “I wish I could be 7 feet and run and just dunk. Like, that takes no skill at all.”

Betting trend to watch: Unfortunately for the small-ball Rockets, defending in the paint is their biggest weakness, especially after trading away Clint Capela left them with the 6’5″ PJ Tucker often manning the center position. Houston allows 51.5 ppg in the paint, sixth-worst in the league, and Giannis is the most dominant inside scorer since Shaq, putting up 29.6 ppg this season.

Grizzlies vs Pelicans, August 3, 6:30 p.m. ET

Not only will this matchup feature the two best rookies in the league in Ja Morant and Zion Williamson, but it will also be a prime spot for the New Orleans Pelicans to gain ground on the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

New Orleans was impressive on offense even without Zion and have become even more unstoppable since the first-overall draft pick joined the team on January 22. Once Zion joined the fold the Pelicans averaged 120.1 ppg and played at the fastest pace in the league.

Betting trend to watch: Thanks in large part to Morant, Memphis also looks good on the offensive end of the floor, ranking seventh in the league in both possessions per game and shooting percentage. With both teams electrifying on offense – and terrible on defense – this should be a very fun game with the Over worth looking at.

Trail Blazers vs Nuggets, August 6, 8 p.m ET

There might not a more dangerous team currently outside a playoff spot than the Portland Trail Blazers, who arguably boast the second-best backcourt out of all 22 teams in Orlando and will also get center Jusuf Nurkic back from a broken leg. The Nuggets are third in the West but sit only 1.5 games behind the Clippers and 1.5 games ahead of the Jazz, so every game matters.

This is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference semifinals, where the Blazers upset the Nuggets in seven games. In three games head-to-head this year the Nuggets went 3-0 SU and ATS.

Betting trend to watch: Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has struggled against Denver, averaging 21.6 ppg on 37.7 percent shooting over his last seven regular-season games against the Nuggets. Although he played better during the playoff series last season, it was CJ McCollum who carried the Blazers offense, especially in Game 7 when Lillard went 3-17 from the field.

Raptors vs 76ers, August 12, 6:30 p.m. ET

There might not be much on the line if the Toronto Raptors have already secured a seed by this time, but if their nerve-wracking seven-game playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers last year is any indication, this should still be a great game.

Betting trend to watch: It will be interesting to see how these teams play on neutral ground. Toronto has been one of the best teams in the league away from home, going 23-9 SU and 16-15 ATS and posting an average scoring margin of plus-4.2 ppg. On the other hand, the 76ers have been terrible on the road, going 10-24 SU, 9-23 ATS and posting a scoring margin of minus-5.3.