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Utah vs Oregon college football picks and Pac-12 Championship predictions: Ducks won’t fly in wet weather

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College football Championship Week kicks off on Friday night as the Utah Utes lock horns with the Oregon Ducks for the Pac-12 Title.

The Utes have gone 8-0 straight up and against the spread over their previous eight games and are 6.5-point favorites against the Oregon Ducks.

From the kickoff to the final whistle we break down the odds for this West Coast battle with our best bets and predictions

UTAH UTES VS OREGON DUCKS (+6.5, 46)

QUICK HITTER

Utah has an explosive offense but puts up an unimpressive 6.0 points per game in the first quarter of games. Oregon averages 7.5 ppg in the opening quarter and that number has gone up to 10.3 ppg over their last three contests.

We like the +125 payout for Oregon to score first. However, considering that the Ducks have scored 56 touchdowns this year while settling for just six field goals, we love the first score to be an Oregon TD even more.

PICK: First Score Method – Oregon Touchdown +175

FIRST HALF BET

Both of these offenses have been very good this season, especially in the first half of games where Utah averages 19.1 ppg (17th in the country) and Oregon puts up 17.4 ppg (26th). However, when they face each other tonight they will both be going up against the best defenses they have seen all year.

Utah’s stop unit is loaded with talent at every level. Defensive lineman Bradlee Anae and Leki Fotu will be NFL bound, linebackers Devin Lloyd and Francis Bernard led the squad in tackles, while defensive backs Jaylon Johnson and Julian Blackmon will likely make the All-Pac-12 team for the second year in a row. The Utes hold opponents to 6.7 ppg in the first half of games (seventh-best in the country) and that number has gone down to just 3.3 ppg over their last three contests.

Oregon, led by linebacker Troy Dye and freshman defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, has allowed 9.0 first-half ppg to FBS opponents. And that number has dipped to 6.3 ppg over their previous three games. With messy weather expected for this clash we’re taking the Under on the 1H total.

PICK: First Half Under 21

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Oregon’s offense is led by senior Justin Herbert, a likely first round NFL draft pick, who has thrown for 3140 passing yards and 31 touchdowns this season. But Herbert could have a hard time airing it out tonight. The Utes have one of the best pass defenses in the nation, allowing just 5.8 yards per pass attempt (fifth-best in the FBS) and 194.9 passing yards per game.

The weather is also expected to be wet and windy (more on that later) which could impact how often Herbert airs it out. Herbert is coming off a 174-yard performance last week and his passing yards total for this game is set at 245.5, a number he has surpassed just twice in his last five games. Take the Under.

PICK: Justin Herbert Under 245.5 passing yards

FULL GAME TOTAL

We’ve mentioned it before but weather will play major a factor in tonight’s game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. There is a high chance of rain while wind is projected to be over 20 mph. Both squads practiced with wet footballs all week in anticipation of the conditions. That could play havoc with the passing games of both squads.

Expect both teams to lean on their strong running games. Only one problem with that, both teams are terrific at defending against the run. The Ducks hold opponents to 116.7 rushing yards per game on 3.4 yards per carry while the Utes give up just 58.3 rushing yards per game and 2.3 yards per carry – the best marks in the country.

It’s likely that both teams will stack the box and force the other side into passing situations. This game could be messy so we’re leaning towards the Under.

PICK: Under 46

FULL GAME SIDE

As we’ve stressed throughout this article, most signs are pointing towards a low-scoring, ground-based battle. If that’s the case 6.5-points is a lot to spot a strong defensive team like Oregon.

While Utah has a terrific running back in Zack Moss (200 carries for 1246 yards and 15 touchdowns), Oregon is no slouch in the running game themselves. The Ducks running back committee has totaled 381 carries for 2193 yards, so even if Justin Herbert and the passing game are limited they should still be able to generate some offense.

As strong as Utah’s defensive line is, Oregon’s offensive line anchored by Shane Lemieux and Calvin Throckmorton is among the best in the nation. This game will likely be determined in the trenches and the Ducks should be physical enough to stand up to the Utes.

The best teams that Utah has faced so far this season are Washington and USC. They had a come-from-behind five-point win against the Huskies and lost to the Trojans. Oregon’s biggest test was their season opener against a very good Auburn team where they lost by six points after leading until the fourth quarter. Take Oregon and the points.

PICK: Oregon +6.5

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.