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College basketball odds, picks and predictions: Bet on big first half from Oregon

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Baylor aims to stay at the top of the NCAA men’s basketball rankings as they take on a reeling West Virginia squad on Saturday, while Oregon looks to crush visiting Utah on Sunday night. We break down the college basketball odds for those games and much more as we bring you the best betting notes, picks and predictions across the NCAA this weekend.   

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS AT BAYLOR BEARS

Things don’t get any easier for No. 14 West Virginia as they come off back-to-back losses. The Mountaineers fell to Oklahoma on the road last Saturday before losing at home to Kansas on Wednesday. They scored an average of just 54 points per game in those two contests and now take on No. 1 Baylor who has held foes to 58.3 ppg on 38.4 percent shooting this season.

Generally the best way to attack the 1-1-3 zone defense that Baylor employs is to attack with a pair of guards that can dribble and drive, as well as knock down the occasional jumper. Unfortunately for WVU, while they have strong players down low, they lack scoring punch in their backcourt. Look for the Bears to hold the Mountaineers Under their team total. 

PURDUE BOILERMAKERS AT OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

Anyone who has been following the Big Ten this season knows that most schools are killing at home and just getting shredded on the road. Purdue and Ohio State represent this trend probably better than anyone, especially during the first half of games.

The Buckeyes have an average first-half scoring margin of plus-12.2 ppg at home (fifth-best in the country) but that drops to minus-1.8 on the road. The Boilermakers have an average first-half margin of plus-11.7 ppg at home and that falls to minus-1.7 on the road.

With Purdue putting up just 27.6 first half ppg on the road, and Ohio State holding opponents to 25 first half ppg in Columbus, take Ohio State on the 1H spread.

GONZAGA BULLDOGS AT PEPPERDINE WAVES

The Zags have the No. 2 team in the country but they might not have the best betting value when they face Pepperdine on the road on Saturday night. Gonzaga is coming off a 30-point rout of Saint Mary’s but prior to that game they failed to cover in three straight contests.

Pepperdine is 25th in the country in scoring with 77.2 ppg and is 7-3 SU over their last 10 contests. They also played well against Gonzaga in the last meeting between the two squads, falling by a score of 75-70 on the road on January 4. A matter of fact, the Waves are 3-1 ATS in the last four games of the head-to-head with the Zags.

With Gonzaga usually a massive favorite, laying at least 10 points in 13 of their last 14 contests (and laying at least 20 points in seven of those), the underdog Waves have value on the spread.   

UTAH UTES AT OREGON DUCKS

Utah is 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS on the road in Pac-12 play, losing by scoring margins of 39, 19, 19, 16, 14 and 4 points. A common theme for Utah in those losses has been ice-cold shooting, far too many turnovers and a tendency to fall behind early. In three of those games, including Thursday night against Oregon State, the Utes were down at least 16 points by halftime.

On Sunday the Utes wrap up their Oregon road trip as they face the No. 17 Ducks. The Ducks are tied for first place in the Pac-12 after a come from behind win against Colorado on Thursday.

Led by guards Payton Pritchard (19.3 points and 6 assists per game) and Chris Duarte (14 ppg), the Ducks rank 19th in the country in offensive efficiency. And Pritchard and Duarte are especially effective at home where they shoot a combined 49 percent from the floor and 41 percent from deep. Bet on Oregon to cover the first half spread.  

MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: BRIGHAM YOUNG COUGARS (19-7, 17-9 ATS, 15-11 O/U)

BYU received 43 votes in the latest AP Top 25 Poll and is currently riding a five-game winning streak. Over their last 17 games the Cougars have gone 14-3 SU and 13-4 ATS. BYU has the best group of outside shooters in the country, connecting on 10.9 made 3-point shots per game while shooting 42.5 percent from deep.

On Saturday, BYU heads to the Jenny Craig Pavillion (seriously that’s what it’s called) to take on the San Diego Toreros. The Toreros are at the bottom of the West Coast Conference standings and shoot just 41.2 percent from the floor. That’s right: San Diego shoots worse from the field than BYU does from beyond the arc.

NATIONAL TITLE ODDS

Dayton has been flying up the NCAA futures odds board and is currently listed as high as +1,600 at some books. The Flyers are fifth in the country in scoring (81.6 ppg) and first in shooting percentage (52.3), and haven’t lost a game since December. While detractors might point at the lack of stiff competition in the Atlantic 10 Conference, it’s worth noting that the Flyers only two losses this season occured in overtime and one of them was against No. 3 Kansas.

On Saturday, Dayton is on the road against the Massachusetts Minutemen. The Minutemen allow 72.9 ppg on 46.5 percent shooting (328th in the country) and lost by 28 points to Dayton on January 11.

BETTING TRENDS

• The Toledo Rockets are just 1-10 ATS at home this season. On Friday they host the Buffalo Bulls who are 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four games in the head-to-head. The Rockets look like a good fade as 2.5-point favorites.  

• Over the last ten days SEC conference games have gone 13-4 O/U. If you’re looking for a solid Over bet in SEC play this weekend, the matchup between Mississippi State and Arkansas looks good. Arkansas has cashed the Over in eight straight games while Miss State is 7-1 O/U in its previous eight contests.

• The top ATS team in the country are the North Florida Osprey who are 19-6 ATS, including 7-1 ATS over their last eight games. On Saturday, the Osprey host the North Alabama Lions. North Florida is 4-0 ATS in four games against North Alabama dating back to last season.

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.