World Cup: Can England Solve Sweden’s Stalwart Defense?

England vs. Sweden, 10 a.m. ET, Fox

  • England -112
  • Sweden +390
  • Draw +225

Bet to Watch:

England To Win By 1 Goal +246 

After England won only their second of eight major tournament penalty shootouts, and first at a World Cup, the English media are starting to believe that anything is possible. “Football’s coming home” as far as fans of the Three Lions  are concerned, but if their team is to lift the trophy for the first time in more than 50 years, there are a few roadblocks still to overcome.

Sweden are, without question, a favorable quarterfinal opponent, but that’s not to say Saturday’s match in Samara will be plain sailing for Gareth Southgate’s men. It never is as far as England are concerned, nor is it when they come to blows with this weekend’s challengers.

England have, after all, won just one of their last eight competitive meetings with the Swedes, who have developed a liking for what has become a familiar underdog status under coach Janne Andersson. Indeed, since exiting Euro 2016 and waving goodbye to their greatest-ever player in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there has been a realization that without a star name to call upon, the players have needed to accept their limitations and, in a roundabout way, turn that into a strength.

The Scandinavians have shown this summer and well beforehand just how difficult they are to break down, simply by sticking to their rigid positions when out of possession and sitting deep. In the past 18 months, they’ve beaten Portugal, France and Italy, so they aren’t to be underestimated, keeping five clean sheets in their last six matches.

Download The Action Network App to track all of your World Cup bets.

It’s relatively clear how the pattern of this match will play out, with Sweden having had a lower possession share (36%) at this World Cup than any of the remaining teams. Plus, they’re well-aware that England are struggling to create meaningful chances from open play.

England have the tournament’s top scorer in their ranks, and Harry Kane will know that if he can add to his six-goal tally, he may well wrap up the Golden Boot. While there are those who will point to his duties as the penalty-kick taker as the main reason for his success this summer, he’s taken the chances that have come his way. Plus, his performance against Colombia was arguably the Tottenham star’s best all-around display of the tournament.

Sweden may have conceded only twice, but they have allowed their opponents the most shots on goal (61) of the quarterfinalists, and Kane doesn’t need a second invitation to shoot or indeed score. With odds over evens on the striker to do so at any time, that’s a bet that’s well worth considering, but I like the winning margin odds for England in this one.

It’s never straightforward when they are involved, after all, and Southgate’s charges are the only side remaining that are yet to keep a clean sheet. While their quality should win out, you can bank on a tight result, so England to win by exactly one goal would be my tip.

Premier League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Leeds United vs. Brentford Betting Preview (Dec. 5)

leeds united vs brentford-odds-pick-prediction-preview-premier league-december 5-2021

Leeds vs. Brentford Odds

Leeds Odds -110
Brentford Odds +310
Draw +265
Over/Under 2.5 (-110 / -110)
Day | Time Sunday | 9 a.m. ET
How To Watch Peacock Premium
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Leeds United plays host to Brentford in a Sunday morning Premier League battle.

The Peacocks picked up their first win since the end of October on Tuesday, beating Crystal Palace at home. They’ll have another chance to get a home result on Sunday when a struggling Brentford team comes to town.

Though the Bees picked up their first win in seven Premier League games last weekend against Everton, they were thoroughly dominated by Tottenham on Thursday in a 2-0 defeat.

Leeds will have two extra days of rest coming into the game given when each team’s midweek game was played, but will it result in three points going the Peacocks’ way?

_PromoID=[5113, 5114, 4778]

Leeds Not Performing to Capabilities

The Peacocks continually amass chances on the attacking end in the Premier League. The problem is, they also concede numerous chances on a weekly basis.

While the 13 goals and 20 goals conceded from Leeds doesn’t tell the full story, the advanced metrics do. Unsurprisingly, Leeds is one of the worst finishing teams in the league, converting on just five percent of their shots on goal. For reference, the best team in the league is Liverpool with an 11.7 percent conversion rate and 10th is Everton with an eight percent conversion rate.

Leeds’ opponents haven’t been as unlucky on the finishing, and it’s cost the Peacocks, who are conceding the fifth-most xGA in the Premier League. As a result, Leeds hasn’t been able to find results.

The finishing woes of the Peacocks will be aided by the return of Patrick Bamford, who has been out due to injury for months. Luke Ayling will also return to the picture for Leeds.

Brentford Struggling for Consistency

Like Leeds, Brentford is another team that has struggled to get results when playing better than its opponent.

Against Norwich, the Bees generated 2.76 xG while conceding 1.16 and they lost 2-1. They generated more xG against Leicester before falling 2-1. Recently, Brentford hasn’t been able to perform at the same level, let alone get results.

In Brentford’s recent 2-0 loss to Tottenham, the Bees conceded 2.07 xG while only generating 0.23. It’s a worrying sign for a team that opened the season with serious promise and excitement.

Brentford needs to start getting results or it will be in real danger of getting itself into a relegation battle. The Bees currently sit in 12th place, six points out of the relegation zone, but for a team that has Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United in three of its seven following games, these types of fixtures are crucial.

The must-have app for Soccer bettors

The best soccer betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Betting Analysis & Pick

Leeds generates chances at an incredible rate at home (1.77 xG/game), but it also concedes chances at a similar rate (1.5 xGA/game). Brentford isn’t one of the better attacking sides in the league on the road (0.99 xG/game), but it is also a solid defensive side on the road (1.5 xGA/game).

With that being considered, I believe that the value lies with a team that finally found its footing and is returning its best striker. That doesn’t even include the additional two days of rest that Leeds has from its midweek game.

Brentford simply isn’t playing like a side that can go on the road and put itself in a good position to take the initiative. Go with Leeds to get the job done.

Pick: Leeds -110

_PromoID=[268, 4996]

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Colts vs. Texans: A Jonathan Taylor Prop Worth Betting vs. Houston’s Suspect D

colts vs. texans-jonathan taylor-odds-preview-prediction-nfl-week 13-december 5

NFL Odds: Colts vs. Texans

Colts Odds -10
Texans Odds +10
Over/Under 44.5
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV CBS
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

After a close home loss last week at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Indianapolis Colts will hope to rebound when they head to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

The Colts (6-6) found themselves with a solid 24-14 lead against the Buccaneers at halftime last week, but surrendered 24 second-half points in an eventual 38-31 loss. The Texans (2-9), meanwhile, are coming off a close loss of their own, as they fell to the New York Jets last week by the score of 21-14 at home.

In a game between two division opponents that know each other well, should we be looking away from the spread and total — and perhaps to the props market — for our Week 13 action in this AFC South matchup?

_PromoID=[7754, 5829, 2339]


Click the arrow to expand injury reports

Colts vs. Texans Injury Report

Colts Injuries

  • DT DeForest Buckner (knee/foot): Questionable
  • TE Jack Doyle (knee): Questionable
  • S Andrew Sendejo (calf): Questionable

Texans Injuries

  • WR Danny Amendola (knee): Out
  • DB Terrence Brooks (hamstring): Out
  • OL Justin McCray (concussion): Out
  • DL DeMarcus Walker (hamstring): Out
  • RB David Johnson (thigh): Questionable
  • WR Brandin Cooks (illness): Questionable
  • WR Chris Conley (illness): Questionable
  • OL Cole Toner (illness): Questionable
  • DL Jacob Martin (shin): Questionable
  • DL Roy Lopez (illness): Questionable

Colts vs. Texans Matchup

Colts Offense DVOA Rank Texans Defense
9 Total 8
18 Pass 6
1 Rush 25
Colts Defense DVOA Rank Texans Offense
12 Total 32
20 Pass 30
3 Rush 32
Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Colts Will Rely On Taylor

Jonathan Taylor stunned even his most adamant supporters two week ago when he annihilated the Bills for 200 total yards and five touchdowns. While he came back down to earth last week with a mere 97 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers, Taylor has been the focal point of this offense all year. He’ll have another smash spot in this one against a 25th-ranked Texans rush defense that just gave up more than 150 rushing yards to the Jets last week.

Quarterback Carson Wentz is also having a strong first season in Indianapolis. He’s thrown for 2,790 yards, 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He’ll have a bit of a tougher task this week against a surprisingly strong Texans secondary that currently ranks eighth against the pass on the season. Expect Wentz to attack cornerback Desmond King, who projects to have a sizeable disadvantage against each of his top weapons, T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr.

Per PFF’s WR/CB Matchup tool, Hilton will have an 81.9 overall matchup advantage against King, while Pittman will have a 71.6 advantage himself. Between the two, King is expected to be on one of them for 41 total snaps, so there will be plenty of opportunity to take advantage of this mismatch for Wentz.

Hilton, however, has struggled since his return from injury in Week 10. In that time, he’s yet to top 30 receiving yards in any performance and has not seen more than five targets in any of those games. Pittman hasn’t been much better, compiling just 76 total receiving yards over the last two weeks. Given the success the running game has seen this season, expect to see a large dose of Taylor again in this one.

_PromoID=[5829]

Texans Looking To Bounce Back

The Texans look to rebound this week at home after a surprising loss last week to the Jets. After a two-game stretch that saw him combine for just 347 passing yards, zero passing touchdowns and three interceptions, quarterback Tyrod Taylor bounced back last week with a more palatable 154-2-1 line. He’ll need to do more with his arm this week if he wants to keep up with this potent Colts offense.

Taylor will have a chance to do just that in a Week 13 matchup that does favor the passing game.  While the Colts defense ranks a stout third against the run, they currently rank 20th against the pass.

That means plenty of targets for top receiving option Brandin Cooks. While his individual matchups are not particularly strong — he projects to have just a 55.3 matchup advantage over Xavier Rhodes and a 45.5 advantage over Rock Ya-Sin, his primary defenders in this one — he’ll be Taylor’s first look on the majority of passing downs.

That said, Cooks has struggled in similar situations this season. Just three weeks ago, he saw 14 targets from Taylor that resulted in just six catches for 56 yards. Over the last two weeks, he has totals of 45 and 18 receiving yards, respectively.

Don’t expect much from this Texans running game, either. The matchup is difficult and this rushing attack has been subpar of late, to say the least. The combination of Rex Burkhead, David Johnson and Taylor has accounted for fewer than 100 total rushing yards in each of the last two games.

_PromoID=[2339]


NFL Pick: Colts vs. Texans

While his 104.5-yard rushing prop in this one is certainly uncomfortable given the size of the number, it’s undeniable how dominant Jonathan Taylor has been this season, particularly against subpar rush defenses. The good news for Taylor this week is that this 25th-ranked Texans defense certainly fits that mold.

The 100-yard threshold has also been something that we’ve seen from him quite often this season. In 12 games, Taylor has surpassed that mark six times, with three performances of 140+ yards. In fact, the first time these two teams met this season, Taylor pummeled them to the tune of 145 rushing yards on just 14 carries.

Given the relative strength of the Texans’ pass defense, we should see Taylor easily surpass the 14 carries he saw in the first meeting between these two teams and cruise past 100 rushing yards with ease. Don’t let the high total scare you away — take the over on this Taylor rushing prop and play it up through 109.5 yards if necessary.

Pick: Jonathan Taylor Over 104.5 Rushing Yards | Bet to: 109.5

More Colts-Texans Odds, Picks, Trends

_PromoID=[7754]

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Chargers vs. Bengals: Justin Herbert Has Edge to Cover Spread vs. Joe Burrow

chargers vs bengals-nfl-odds-picks-predictions-justin herbert-cover-spread-joe burrow-week 13-2021

NFL Odds: Chargers vs. Bengals

Chargers Odds +3
Bengals Odds -3
Over/Under 50
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

For the first time, the two best quarterbacks of the 2020 draft class will meet on the field. These teams did face off last season, but Tyrod Taylor got the start for the Chargers in Week 1.

The line on that game? Chargers -3. That number has flipped this time around, with the young Bengals having improved quite a bit since then.

We expect these teams to be priced fairly similarly, but is there an edge? Each of these teams have played the Steelers over the past two weeks. The Chargers were -6 at home, while Cincinnati was -3.5 at Paul Brown Stadium. That doesn’t translate to Bengals -3 here.

_PromoID=[10433, 10432, 2339]


Click the arrow to expand injury reports

Chargers vs. Bengals Injury Report

Chargers Injuries

  • CB Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion): Out
  • S Alohi Gilman (quadricep): Out

Bengals Injuries

  • WR Auden Tate (calf): Doubtful
  • WR Mike Thomas (illness): Doubtful
  • RB Chris Evans (ankle): Doubtful
  • DE Khalid Kareem (illness): Doubtful
  • C Trey Hopkins (ankle): Questionable
  • T Riley Rieff (ankle): Questionable

Chargers vs. Bengals Matchup

Chargers Offense DVOA Rank Bengals Defense
2 Total 16
8 Pass 19
10 Rush 9
Chargers Defense DVOA Rank Bengals Offense
23 Total 21
11 Pass 24
32 Rush 15
Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Undervalued Chargers Can Score on Cincinnati

Something feels off with this Los Angeles offense recently. Despite having elite talent around Herbert in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler, the Chargers’ output has been somewhat underwhelming.

One potential reason for the decline is an injured offensive line. The right side of the line has been hurt throughout the season, and left guard Matt Feiler was missing last week against the Broncos. He’s back this week, though, which gives Los Angeles its top-choice line at every position.

Good pass protection is extremely important to Los Angeles considering its heavy reliance on late-down efficiency. Check out the splits for this offense on early vs. late downs:

  • Early Downs: 15th Success Rate (46%), 17th in EPA per play (.042)
  • Late Downs: Fifth Success Rate (52%), third in EPA per play (.342)

Like offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offenses in New Orleans with Drew Brees, this team relies on the short passing game. Herbert should be better than 27th in Air Yards among qualified quarterbacks, though, given his arm and offensive weapons. Still, the approach has largely worked with Los Angeles ranking in the top 10 by most predictive metrics.

Cincinnati will present a tough test, ranking seventh in EPA per play. The Bengals are only one of eight teams allowing negative EPA per play.

The numbers may not tell the entire story here. Cincinnati has faced an extremely easy slate of opposing offenses so far this year. Only four teams it has faced have an above-average offense by my numbers — Minnesota, Green Bay, Baltimore and Las Vegas.

The Chargers have the ability to score points. With Feiler back in the mix to help block D.J. Reader and the Bengals interior, Los Angeles should be able to get its passing game going once again.

_PromoID=[10492]

How Will Bengals Attack L.A.’s Defense?

Joe Mixon and his fantasy managers have to be salivating this week. The Chargers are dead last in both EPA per rush and rushing success rate allowed. They give up a successful run on 51% of attempts, which is 4% higher than the 31st-ranked team. Los Angeles’ linebackers are bad — this team doesn’t tackle very well and it gets gashed because of it.

The Bengals have no problem running the ball a lot, despite their explosive passing offense. The Bengals run on early downs at the eighth-highest rate in the NFL. Running the ball on early downs is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to some inefficient drives and more third-down conversions. Of course, it helps when you play the Chargers.

It was a big blow to the Chargers when defensive tackle Linval Joseph was ruled out since he’s their best run stopper and interior pressure generator, which is significant against a team like the Bengals that has a weak offensive line. However, his loss may be offset by some of the injuries on the Bengals offensive line.

nfl survivor pool-picks-bengals-patriots-eagles-week-12-2021
Chris Unger/Getty Images. Pictured: Bengals RB Joe Mixon, Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase

Cincinnati is likely without center Trey Hopkins and right tackle Riley Reiff this weekend since both are listed as questionable and neither practiced all week.

This is a Cincinnati offensive line that has probably outperformed expectations but still ranks 31st in pass block win rate and is average in the running game. Without Reiff in particular, this gives Joey Bosa a potential matchup with an inexperienced backup like Isaiah Prince. Rookie Trey Hill is likely to start for Hopkins.

In the passing game? When adjusted for opponents, both Cincinnati’s passing offense and L.A.’s passing defense are league average from an EPA per play and success rate standpoint. The Bengals have played a lot of iffy defenses this year, boosting their offensive numbers to heights that are probably not indicative of their actual quality.

_PromoID=[10433]


NFL Pick: Chargers vs. Bengals

These teams are very similar, with young quarterbacks and coaches, as well as excellent pass-catching options. The similarities don’t stop there, though, as these two teams have performed at very similar levels this season.

While the raw numbers favor the Bengals, Cincinnati has played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, while the Chargers have faced one of the tougher schedules. It’s easy to give up on Los Angeles after watching that meltdown in Denver, but the NFL is a week-to-week league. We cannot let the most recent game dictate our worldview on a given team.

There are a lot of ways to attack this game from a betting perspective. We’ll start with the side. Given how close these two teams are (I have them rated nearly equally, as does DVOA), and how little home-field advantage has mattered this season, there is value in taking the points with the Chargers.

As of Saturday, +3 is widely available. I’d even consider staking some of your bet on the moneyline, which is available as high as +145. This implies the Chargers only have a 41% chance of winning this game, which is steep to me given how little separation there is between the two.

Pick: Chargers +3 | Bet to: +3 (-120)

Pick: Moneyline +145 | Bet to: +125

More Chargers-Bengals Odds, Picks, Trends

_PromoID=[2339]

NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Plays for Saturday Night, Including CJ McCollum (December 4)

nba player props-odds-picks-preview-saturday-december 4-2021

It is time for some weekend basketball. I hope everyone had a great week and is ready to make some money this weekend.

We have some big games tonight in the NBA, headlined by the Eastern Conference with the Nets vs. Bulls and Bucks vs. Heat. I provided a prop for both of those games for your viewing pleasure.

We’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Below, I have laid out three prop-bets that I’m playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.

NBA Player Props & Picks

Nikola Vucevic, Over 31.5 Points, Rebounds, and Assists (-105)

Bulls vs. Nets Nets -3
Time | TV 8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book DraftKings

The top-two teams in the Eastern Conference headline Saturday night’s slate of games. The Nets pace the East at 16-6, while Chicago isn’t far behind at 15-8. This should be a great game.

Nikola Vucevic has really stepped up his production lately. Vucevic is averaging 28.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game over his last two, making double-digit field goals in each game while also pouring in an average of 5.5 3-pointers per game, going 11-of-15 from downtown in that span. The big man is dialed in, to say the least.

This is a great matchup for Vucevic as the Nets are playing on a back-to-back. They rank 25th in Rebounding Percentage this season as Vucevic should have no problem going up against LaMarcus Aldridge and company. The Nets have allowed the third-most offensive rebounds at 11.2 per game. Vucevic leads the Bulls averaging 1.8 offensive rebounds per game. He should clean up the glass in this matchup against an undersized and aging Nets frontcourt.

The total for this game is the highest on the slate at 222 points. The Nets rank sixth in Pace this season, while the Bulls rank 13th. We know the points and rebounds for Vucevic will always be there, but he is also averaging a career-high 4.1 assists per game. He has had three or more assists in every game this season, except for three and two of those three were very early in the season.

I am very interested in many Vucevic props tonight, but this one stood out the most to me. I also really like taking the over 1.5 3-pointers made prop that is coming in at even-money on DraftKings. Vucevic is clicking on all cylinders right now and this should be a fantastic game environment where the Bulls can lean on their center. I would bet this prop up to 33.5 tonight.

_PromoID=[5877, 8072, 7942, 8272, 8081]


Tyler Herro, Over 22.5 Points (Odds)

Heat vs. Bucks Bucks -6.5
Time | TV 8 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book FanDuel

This matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat looks incredible, until you dive into the injury situation. The Bucks will likely be without Giannis Antetokounmpo who is doubtful to play. The Heat will be without Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Markieff Morris. The role players will need to shine tonight.

Even when the Miami Heat are fully healthy, Tyler Herro still leads the team in usage rate with 29.4%. He normally comes off of the bench, but still plays well over 30 minutes per game. However, with the injury to Butler specifically, Herro has entered the starting lineup. In the six games where he has started, Herro is averaging 22.3 points per game on 20.3 field goal attempts per game. He is also playing an average of 36.8 minutes per game and has only played fewer than 37 minutes in a game once in those six games.

The Bucks defense takes a major hit without Giannis on the floor. The sample size is small, but in two games without Giannis on the floor the Bucks have a Defensive Rating of 116.2. That is a drastic difference compared to the Bucks playing with Giannis where they have a Defensive Rating of 106.9. I do expect Jrue Holiday to play some defense on Herro tonight, but I am not worried.

If you are into a little homecoming narrative, Herro was a stand out basketball player at Whitnall high school, which is a suburb of Milwaukee. He has two brothers still in high school playing for Whitnall right now. I would imagine Herro will be trying to put on a show tonight for his friends and family.

There may be a better number and more value on Herro’s points prop tonight, so be sure to shop around. Right now the only available spot I see is on FanDuel. I do think the 22.5 points is a little steep given his recent production, but he should have so many opportunities tonight to get that over. I would rather get in on that number now, before it potentially moves up.


CJ McCollum, Under 9.5 Rebounds and Assists (-145)

Celtics vs. Trail Blazers Celtics -1.5
Time | TV 10 p.m. ET | NBA League Pass
Best Book DraftKings

The Portland Trail Blazers are decimated with injuries to their backcourt right now. Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons are both out for the game tonight, leaving the starting backcourt to likely be CJ McCollum and Dennis Smith Jr.

Lillard has missed three games this season as the Trail Blazers have gone 1-2 during those games. They lost to the Nuggets by 29 points and the Spurs by 31 points. Their lone win was against the 4-18 Pistons. I’m a little surprised the Celtics are only favored by a bucket tonight, especially if Jaylen Brown is back.

In the three games Lillard has missed this season, McCollum has had to take on a larger scoring role. He is averaging 21.7 points per game and has a 32% usage rate without Lillard in the lineup, compared to 20.3 points per game and a 25.8% usage rate with Lillard in the lineup. He has also seen a decrease in minutes played due to the blowouts against the Spurs and Nuggets.

The biggest hit McCollum has taken is with his peripherals. He is averaging over one less assist per game and one less rebound per game without Lillard. In those three games McCollum is averaging only 3.3 assists per game and 3.3 rebounds per game. The Celtics rank eighth in Defensive Rating this season while playing at the ninth-slowest Pace. This certainly is a difficult matchup.

There is definitely more value if you take the under 4.5 assists or under 4.5 rebounds props instead of linking them together. I like both of those as well tonight. Regardless, McCollum can score as much as he wants to. I think they will struggle if his shot is off and a blowout is still on the table despite playing at home where they are 10-2 this season. I would also bet this down to 8.5.

The must-have app for NBA bettors

The best NBA betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Vikings vs. Lions: How to Bet Spread & Over/Under in NFC North Showdown

vikings vs lions-nfl-odds-picks-predictions-how-to-bet-spread-over-under-in-nfc north-showdown-week 13

NFL Odds: Vikings vs. Lions

Vikings Odds -7
Lions Odds +7
Over/Under 47
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV CBS
Odds via Gun Lake. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

The Lions are winners of three straight against the spread, continuing to outperform oddsmakers’ expectations despite their actual record remaining winless. They look to continue that streak on Sunday as seven-point home underdogs against the Vikings.

Both teams are playing without their star running backs in this one. That will be the key storyline as both teams rank in the bottom third of the league in Pass Rate Over Expectation — especially as of late for the Lions, who haven’t attempted more than 25 passes in a game since Dan Campbell took over play calling duties. Let’s take a deeper look to see how that will impact the betting angles in this matchup.

_PromoID=[5650, 7199, 7783]


Click the arrow to expand injury reports

Vikings vs. Lions Injury Report

Vikings Injuries

  • RB Dalvin Cook (shoulder): Out
  • OT Christian Darrisaw (ankle): Out
  • S Camryn Bynum (ankle): Out
  • LB Anthony Barr (knee/hamstring): Questionable
  • LB Eric Kendricks (ribs): Questionable
  • CB Mackensie Alexander (ribs): Questionable

Lions Injuries

  • RB D’Andre Swift (shoulder): Out
  • CB Bobby Price (shoulder): Out
  • LB Trey Flowers (knee): Out
  • LB Jaylin Reeves-Maybin (shoulder): Out
  • OT Penei Sewell (illness): Questionable
  • OT Matt Nelson (ankle): Questionable
  • DE Michael Brockers (knee): Questionable

Vikings vs. Lions Matchup

Vikings Offense DVOA Rank Lions Defense
8 Total 28
2 Pass 28
29 Rush 21
Vikings Defense DVOA Rank Lions Offense
17 Total 30
10 Pass 32
29 Rush 22
Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Vikings Have Passing Upside

Despite their preference to be a run-first team, the Vikings actually feature one of the best passing attacks in the NFL from an efficiency standpoint. They rank second in DVOA, led by star receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

They could conceivably switch (especially early) to a more pass-centric approach in this one. That would be advantageous against a Lions team that ranks 28th in DVOA against the pass and allows the most yards per pass attempt in the league.

The ground game will flow through Alexander Mattison this week. He’s performed admirably in brief stints as Dalvin Cook’s backup, including rushing for 113 yards with seven catches in the prior meeting with the Lions. He’s no Cook, as Mattison has fared worse on a per-touch basis both rushing and receiving this season. However, he doesn’t have to be Cook to be successful against the Lions defense.

Defensively, the Vikings feature a top-10 pass defense while struggling against the run. That’s a good thing (relatively speaking) under normal circumstances, but less so against Detroit. The Lions have been the league’s worst passing offense but are mediocre — and at times very solid — running the ball.

With that said, the loss of Swift for the week changes that calculus significantly, making Minnesota’s defensive struggles less glaring.  It’s hard to see the Detroit running game sans Swift exploiting the weakness in the Vikings defense.

_PromoID=[7783]

Lions Looking Bleak But Keep Covering

As we’ve touched on, the Lions offensive situation is fairly dire this week. In addition to being without Swift, starting tackle (and top draft pick) Penei Sewell is also injured, having missed practice entirely early in the week. He may play, but if he’s at less than full strength, that further limits the Lions ground game. Sewell is a top-15 tackle in Run Blocking Grade this year, according to PFF.

There’s not much more that needs to be said about the Lions’ passing game, which is awful by nearly every metric. Jared Goff has played poorly, ranking 30th in  yards per passing attempt. Whether that’s his fault or caused by the Lions’ lack of weaponry is up for debate — but neither of those things will be better this week.

Defensively, the Lions are similarly awful against the pass. That’s a big, big problem against the Vikings’ talented wide receivers. One way to work around that is by getting to slow-footed Kirk Cousins, but unfortunately the Lions rank last in the league in Adjusted Sack Rate as well. The Vikings will be able to throw the ball as much as they want this week.

The Lions’ previous meeting with the Vikings yielded Mattison’s best game of the season, and it’s unlikely this game goes much differently. The path of least resistance against Detroit is through the air, but there’s not much more resistance on the ground.  With multiple starting linebackers potentially missing for Detroit, it could be a long day for their rushing defense.

_PromoID=[7199]


NFL Pick: Vikings vs. Lions

With these two teams combining to average 41.3 points per game while combining to allow 51.4, the 46.5 total makes sense at first glance. However, I’ve noted in the past that second meetings between teams generally produce low scoring totals. On top of that, we have both teams missing (arguably) their most explosive offensive weapons this week, as well as key offensive linemen.

Their last meeting produced only 36 points, and that game featured a healthy Swift, and a more aggressive Lions offense. Since Campbell took over calling plays,  they’ve played slower, more run-heavy football.  Even if the Lions do decide to air it out, it’s unlikely they have much success given the strengths of the Vikings defense. DraftKings still has this total at 47, and I’m taking the under there (check real-time NFL odds here).

I’m also going to be on the Vikings spread this week. Betting on the Lions to cover has served me well as of late, but this is the week where that trend stops.

The loss of Swift is far more impactful to the Lions than Cook is to the Vikings.  Besides his running ability, he’s second on the team in receiving yards on the season, leaving them with little behind T.J. Hockenson offensively. I’d love to get this line below the seven points it’s currently at, but the Vikings still cover here.

Pick: Under 47 | Bet to: 46.5
Pick: Vikings -7 | Bet to: -7

More Vikings-Lions Odds, Picks, Trends

_PromoID=[5650]

Chiefs vs. Broncos Odds, Promo: Bet $25, Win $125 if Either Team Scores a TD!

super bowl-55-sportsbook-worst-case-scenario

You’ll already be tuning into Chiefs-Broncos on Sunday night …

So why not earn a free $125 while you watch? Check it out:

Bet $25, Win $125 if the Chiefs or Broncos Score a TD!

_PromoID=[11121]

Check out the details below.

Parx Sportsbook

Offer: Bet $25, Win $125 if the Chiefs or Broncos Score a TD on Sunday Night Football!

Bet now: Click here

  • Who’s it for? New users in PA

The Broncos may not be one of the NFL’s highest scoring teams, and the Chiefs appear to have taken a step back from their recent dominance on offense.

Still, it’s essentially a guarantee that both teams find the end zone at least once on Sunday night …

To win $125 when either team does:

Click here

  • Register (promo code TANNFL2021 will auto-populate)
  • Deposit $25+
  • Place a $25+ bet (with odds of -300 or greater) on the Chiefs vs. Broncos game

Note: You can place any first-time wager of $25+ on any Week 13 NFL game, and you’ll be rewarded with $125 in additional free bets if that team scores a touchdown. This game is being used as an example.

What are you waiting for?! Head on over to Parx now to boost your Week 13 bankroll!

WIN $125 ON A TD!

_PromoID=[11121]

SugarHouse Is Live in Connecticut: Get a $250 Deposit Match for Patriots-Bills!

patriots qb mac jones

Connecticut, online sports betting is officially live in your state. And what better time to start than with the Patriots on Monday Night Football!?

Get your first deposit matched up to $250 to bet on Pats-Bills!

_PromoID=[11249]

SugarHouse Sportsbook

Offer: Get your deposit matched INSTANTLY up to $250 to bet on Patriots vs. Bills!

Bet now: Click here

  • Who’s it for? New users in CT

Based on how they’ve looked the past few weeks, you might be looking to get a little action on the Patriots this Monday night.

But if you’re betting on the game, you’re going to have to deposit some money to do it. So why not get that deposit doubled on the house … instantly!

To take advantage:

Click here

  • Register using code ACTION
  • Deposit at least $20 (and up to $250)
  • Receive your winnings!

Now you’ve got some free money to work with even before you place that first bet on the Patriots game! How’s that for a welcome offer?

Get your Connecticut betting career started at SugarHouse before kickoff in Buffalo!

Claim your FREE $250!

_PromoID=[11249]

Georgia vs. Alabama SEC Championship Game Picks & Predictions: Saturday’s Top College Football Betting Model Edge

georgia-vs-alabama-predictions-picks-betting-edge-sec-championship-game

Georgia vs. Alabama Odds

Georgia Odds -6.5
Alabama Odds +6.5
Over/Under 49.5
Date Saturday, Dec. 4
Time 4 p.m. ET
TV CBS

*Odds as of Friday afternoon.

This is it — the college football matchup we’ve been waiting for all season.

Georgia blitzed through the regular season and brings its sparkling 12-0 record into Saturday’s SEC Championship Game.

Alabama’s path was a bit rockier, as it included a loss to Texas A&M and an epic four-overtime victory over rival Auburn in last weekend’s Iron Bowl.

Georgia vs. Alabama will obviously attract a monster TV audience and college football bettors will also jump at the chance for some action on the SEC Championship Game.

Interestingly, our College Football PRO Projections also pinpoint Georgia vs. Alabama as a game worth betting.

In fact, there is not only a big betting edge for Georgia vs. Alabama, it’s also the biggest edge of the entire college football championship weekend.

Here is the SEC Championship Game wager that our betting model likes so much.

Georgia vs. Alabama Betting Model Prediction

Seventy-six percent of bettors are laying the number with Georgia, yet the smartest way to bet the SEC Championship Game appears to be the over/under.

While the consensus Georgia vs. Alabama total has settled in at 49.5 (click here for the latest college football odds), our betting model projects this number at 55.4, resulting in a hefty 11.2% edge and earning an A-plus grade from The Action Network’s PRO Projections feature.

Casual bettors are banking on a Bulldogs victory of at least seven points, but as I detailed above, the smarter play is to bet on us getting a high-scoring SEC Championship Game.

PRO Projections Pick: Over 49.5

_PromoID=[11029, 11030, 10391]

Buffalo vs. St. Bonaventure College Basketball Odds & Picks: Back the Bulls or Bonnies?

college basketball-odds-picks-betting-buffalo vs st bonaventure-saturday december 4

Buffalo vs. St. Bonaventure Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
NBC Sports Network
Buffalo Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3
-115
148
-110o / -110u
N/A
St. Bonaventure Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3
-105
148
-110o / -110u
N/A
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Strap in for the heavyweight title bout for WNY!

(WNY = ‘Western New York’, for my fellow Midwesterners oblivious to northeast geography nomenclature).

Akin to Philadelphia’s “Big 5,” St. Bonaventure and Buffalo comprise two of WNY’s big 4, along with Canisius and Niagara. Though, with all due respect to Canisius and Niagara, this is the Buffalo area’s marquee event of the basketball season.

After a year off last season due to the COVID constrained non-conference, the WNY rivalry is back in action at 4 p.m. ET.

This tilt will take place at the infamous Reilly Center, the Bonnies’ crackerjack gymnasium that can get as raucous as any crowd in America. That, however, is contingent on the Bonnies pleasing the Olean faithful, which they’ve struggled to do in their last two home games.

St. Bonaventure holds the edge over Buffalo in the all-time series, 10-4, and has won six of the last seven matchups.

_PromoID=[9510]


Buffalo Bulls

In this stark stylistic clash, the visiting Bulls are “thunder” to the Bonnies’ “lightning.” Since taking over for former boss Nate Oats in 2019, Jim Whitesell has the Bulls runnin’ and gunnin’ at Mach 5 speed. Currently, Buffalo boasts the nation’s 17th-fastest tempo, as defined by KenPom.

The secret sauce to Whitesell’s system is high-octane athletes with a perpetually running motor. He has that in bunches this season, headlined by two physical specimens in Jeenathan Williams and Josh Mballa.

The Bulls will be underdogs heading into this evening’s battle with St. Bonny, but won’t back down at any moment, as they didn’t against Michigan on opening night.

Since then, their only other blemish came at the hands of Stephen F. Austin, which squeaked by the Bulls by one point in the Thanksgiving MTE.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

St. Bonaventure Bonnies

The Bonnies are seven games in to their encore campaign, just months removed from one of the all-time greatest seasons in program history.

Mark Schmidt brought the whole band back from a team that notched a 9-seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament. It’s no secret why every media prognosticator pegged St. Bonaventure 2022 preseason A-10 favorite.

So far, there’s been a mix of highs and lows, a true roller coaster ride of performances. Ironically, the Bonnies played their best ball in the Disney based MTE the weekend before Thanksgiving, when they dispatched Boise State, Clemson and Marquette in fairly convincing fashion.

However, those stellar performances were sandwiched in between a stunning home loss to Northern Iowa — another lauded mid-major this season — and three other lethargic performances against lesser competition. Yes, Schmidt and his ultra-experienced Bonnies came away unscathed in those efforts, but they came out sluggish in all three games.


Buffalo vs. St. Bonaventure Betting Pick

If the Bonnies stumble out of the gate again tonight, they could be staring down the barrel at a repeat episode of what happened last Saturday against Northern Iowa.

Granted, the Panthers were unconscious from behind the arc, but the Bonnies’ nationally-elite defense, anchored by premier shot swatter Osun Osunniyi, should never surrender 90 points, much less at home.

Complicating the Bonnies’ concerns heading into this dangerous matchup is the absence of Kyle Lofton, who suffered a high ankle sprain last game against Coppin State.

Lofton is the heartbeat of this ball club, and hasn’t missed a start in 93 games. That’s right, Lofton’s name has been penciled into the starting lineup in every St. Bonaventure game since the beginning of the 2018-19 season.

Pick: Buffalo +3.5

_PromoID=[72]

Syracuse vs. Florida State Odds & Picks: The First-Half Play to Bet in ACC College Basketball Showdown

college basketball-odds-picks-betting-syracuse vs florida state-saturday december 4

Syracuse vs. Florida State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Syracuse Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6
+100
149.5
-110o / -110u
+230
Florida State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6
-120
149.5
-110o / -110u
-290
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Florida State and Syracuse may be conference foes who are scheduled to play one another every year, but COVID-19 canceled the only scheduled meeting between these two programs last year in January 2021.

Both programs have had quite a bit of turnover since their last meeting in February 2020.

Only two Syracuse players — the starting backcourt of Joe Girard III and Buddy Boeheim — remain from the team that lost by three in Tallahassee. Florida State has a few more returnees, but has a very different cast of characters from the last few seasons of Seminoles basketball.

Both programs have struggled to begin the 2021-22 season, along with much of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Orange were blown out twice in the Battle 4 Atlantis and lost at home to Colgate, while FSU barely snuck out wins against Tulane and Boston University in the final minutes.

The Seminoles have turnover issues offensively, while SU has the worst defense it has ever had under head coach Jim Boeheim.

_PromoID=[9510]


Syracuse Orange

The Orange’s biggest issues through seven games are on defense. SU is 5-2 to the over and many of the games haven’t been particularly close to the total. They let up 100 points to Colgate, 67 to VCU (a season high for the Rams), 84 to Arizona State, 89 to Auburn and 110 to Indiana (in double overtime). 

Syracuse is 307th in effective field goal defense percentage allowed, ranks as one of the worst defenses of all the high majors at protecting the rim and doesn’t guard shooters well, either.

Rebounding is always an issue in the Orange’s 2-3 zone, but will be especially important on Saturday given that the Seminoles are 29th nationally in offensive rebounding. 

When you take out all priors from the defensive ratings, the Orange are 307th in overall defensive efficiency through seven games, and Boeheim has never had a defense rank outside the top 135 in KenPom for an entire season.

Syracuse lost a lot of its length and athleticism when Quincy Guerrier transferred to Oregon, Kadary Richmond transferred to Seton Hall and Alan Griffin turned pro.

The result was bringing in Jimmy Boeheim Jr. and Cole Swider, who are plus shooters and offensive players, but aren’t good defenders.

With all of that said, Syracuse can score with anyone in the country. The Orange rank seventh in offensive efficiency when all priors are removed and only the seven games played are included, per Bart Torvik.

Buddy Boeheim is one of the best scorers in the entire country.

It remains to be seen how well the Orange will handle full court pressure because the early signs are quite ominous given their performances against VCU and Arizona State. Syracuse could wear out in the second half given its inferior depth and lack of ball handlers in the backcourt.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Florida State Seminoles

Florida State isn’t exactly trending up with its performances either, after the Seminoles were boat-raced by Purdue on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Based on the opening seven games alone with priors removed, the Seminoles are 66th in overall offensive efficiency and 50th in defense.

FSU didn’t have RayQuan Evans for the loss against Purdue, and while he’s back in Tallahassee, it’s not clear if he’ll be back in the lineup for this game yet. Evans is a veteran leader of an FSU attack that is quite balanced across the board. 

The Seminoles lost three of the four scorers that averaged double-digit points last season — Scottie Barnes, RaiQuan Gray and M.J. Walker — to the pros, but as Hamilton does, he replenished their losses and has three players averaging 10+ points per game. Those players are Caleb Mills, Malik Osborne and Matthew Cleveland.

Osborne is a senior and a 6-foot-9 stretch guy who’s elite at both rebounding and shooting it from deep. Mills transferred from Houston and does a little bit of everything in the FSU backcourt. Cleveland is the freshman who has made 19 of his 21 attempts on close 2-pointers this season. 

Florida State can force plenty of turnovers and apply ball pressure to the SU backcourt, but it has turnover issues of its own on offense. FSU has turned it over on more than 20% of its possessions this season and despite Syracuse’s issues defensively, one thing the Orange can do is force turnovers.


Syracuse vs. Florida State Betting Pick

The first half market isn’t typically released until the morning of the game, but that’s where I’ll be looking in this game on Saturday.

I have concerns about the Orange’s ability to hang with the Seminoles for 40 minutes given their lacking depth, defensive holes and inability to break through full court pressure.

However, the Orange’s offense can score with anyone and the FSU turnover issues remain a concern for it in the half court.

If Syracuse can settle into its zone and make the Seminoles operate in the half court, it will take time for FSU to adjust. We saw Syracuse use some 1-3-1 zone instead of its famous 2-3 zone on Tuesday vs. Indiana, and differing looks could help to throw off the Seminoles’ offense and force them into turnovers.

The Orange’s high variance shooting volatility makes them fun to back as an underdog as opposed to a favorite. Despite the length edge for FSU, the depth edge won’t be exploited early.

I’d expect to see a +4.5 or +5 in the first half given the spread of 8.5/9, so anything +4.5 or better is good to back SU in the opening 20 minutes.

Pick: Syracuse first half +4.5

_PromoID=[245]

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Cardinals vs. Bears: Why We’re Betting This First-Half Spread in Week 13

cardinals vs bears-nfl-odds-picks-dec-5-week 13

NFL Odds: Cardinals vs. Bears

Cardinals Odds -7.5
Bears Odds +7.5
Over/Under 42.5
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

At 9-2, Arizona’s destiny is in its own hands. The Cardinals have a solid two-game lead on the Rams for the division but only a half-game lead for the No. 1 seed. Getting healthy will be a big boost to its top-seed odds. Even after Arizona’s bye, stars Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins have been limited in practice and are questionable for the game. Fortunately, the Cardinals’ other backups have answered the call so far, but that can only last so long.

Arizona is not alone in its fight against injuries. The Bears had extra time off because they played on Thanksgiving, and several of their stars are still likely out. This puts head coach Matt Nagy in a precarious position as the media had him fired before the Lions matchup — fortunately a win seems to have bought him some time. However, Chicago heads into a difficult stretch of games with its best players hurt, so that victory may have just been a stay of execution.

While both teams are beat up at key spots, the Cardinals have shown they can overcome their injuries while the Bears have underwhelmed. With Kyler Murray being a game-time decision, potentially trusting Colt McCoy with a touchdown spread is a bit much. Let’s see if we can find a better angle.

_PromoID=[8562, 7052, 5113]


Click the arrow to expand injury reports

Cardinals vs. Bears Injury Report

Cardinals Injuries

  • S James Wiggins (ankle): Out
  • QB Kyler Murray (ankle): Questionable
  • WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring): Questionable
  • OL Justin Pugh (calf): Questionable
  • CB Byron Murphy (foot): Questionable

Bears Injuries

  • RB Damien Williams (calf): Out
  • WR Marquise Goodwin (foot/ribs): Out
  • DL Akiem Hicks (ankle): Out
  • DL Mario Edwards (ribs): Out
  • QB Justin Fields (ribs): Doubtful
  • WR Allen Robinson (hamstring): Doubtful
  • LB Roquan Smith (hamstring): Questionable

Cardinals vs. Bears Matchup

Cardinals Offense DVOA Rank Bears Defense
10 Total 19
3 Pass 17
24 Rush 19
Cardinals Defense DVOA Rank Bears Offense
3 Total 25
3 Pass 27
15 Rush 17
Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

McCoy Has Kept Cardinals Offense Afloat

Despite Kyler Murray missing the last three weeks, Arizona’s offense has not been drastically worse. Colt McCoy has led the offense to two games with over 400 yards of total offense and averaged over 21 points per game. Arizona did have one hiccup against Carolina where nothing went right, but it has still been respectable regardless.

The most impressive part of the Cardinals staying afloat has been McCoy’s ability to spread the ball. In his three games at quarterback, no Cardinals receiver has more than 20 targets, while four have at least 15. Last year, there was doubt if this team had anyone outside of Hopkins to catch the ball, now it has threats everywhere.

While the offense has been formidable without Murray, the defense has been the backbone of this team. It is top five in both points and yards allowed and more importantly, it stifles teams in high-leverage moments. Arizona’s defense currently ranks in the top three in both third-down and fourth-down conversion rates. Against the Bears’ abysmal offense, this defense should absolutely feast.

_PromoID=[7052]

Bears Offense Has Lacked a Bite

The last two weeks have been rough for the Bears offense. Chicago has averaged 365 yards of offense, but it has led to just 14.5 points per game. Against the Ravens, it seemed like nothing worked at all, outside of two busted coverages that led to 110 yards and two touchdowns. Chicago did have much more success sustaining drives against the Lions, but walking away with just 16 points against Detroit is a disappointment.

Looking to bounce back against Arizona is not an ideal situation. Chicago will be starting Andy Dalton once again. He will raise the floor for this offense, but we saw how stale the Bears can get in terms of style without Justin Fields leading the way.

bears-nfl-draft-picks-needs-first-round-odds
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Nagy

One area that needs to step up for this offense to succeed is its ground game. It currently ranks 13th in yards per carry, but the Bears posted two of their three worst rushing performances in the last two weeks. Arizona ranks third-worst in yards per carry allowed, so if Bears fans are looking for a shred of hope, a dominant ground game is it.

Defensively, this team is simply ravaged by injuries. Khalil Mack is out for the season, Akiem Hicks is out for this game, and Roquan Smith is questionable but only practiced Friday in a limited capacity. The Bears were already in the bottom half of the league in yards and points per drive, and being beat up will not help. They have had two good weeks, but stopping the Lions and Tyler Huntley is nothing to boast about.

_PromoID=[5113]


NFL Pick: Cardinals vs. Bears

Right when Justin Fields started to hit his stride for Chicago, an injury struck and sucked optimism out of the Bears. They are now hurt on both sides of the ball and possibly waiting for a new coach to come in. Had Fields been healthy, he would give the team and fans someone to rally around as hope for the future. Instead, this is a banged-up team led by Andy Dalton stumbling along.

The Cardinals, on the other hand, have been able to overcome each hurdle thrown their way. Their three best players have all missed time and Arizona has a winning record without each. They control their fate for home-field advantage and will not risk it by overlooking the Bears in preparation for the Rams.

The only time Arizona looked helpless this year was against a talented Panthers defense. At full strength, the Bears may be able to replicate that success, but given their best three defenders may be out, that is a longshot.

In a game where Arizona has everything to play for and Chicago is just stumbling along, trust the Cardinals to take care of business early.

Pick: Cardinals 1H -4 | Bet to: -4.5

More Cardinals-Bears Odds, Picks, Trends

_PromoID=[8562]

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for Saint Mary’s vs. Colorado State: Who Will Dictate Tempo?

college basketball-odds-picks-betting-saint marys vs colorado state-saturday december 4

Saint Mary’s vs. Colorado State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
Stadium
Saint Mary’s Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+4.5
-105
137
-105o / -115u
+160
Colorado State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-4.5
-115
137
-105o / -115u
-190
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Two of the top mid-major programs with contradicting playing styles meet on Saturday when Saint Mary’s travels to face Colorado State.

Colorado State is highly touted as a potential favorite to win the Mountain West Conference. The Rams have remained perfect through their first eight games, winning by an average margin of 18 points.

Their offense has led the way, as they rank 16th in offensive efficiency, while averaging 87 points per game. They’ve matched up with only one opponent inside the top 100 in Creighton, whom they defeated 95-81.

Now, they duel a Saint Mary’s team that is 8-1 and has found success through its fifth-ranked defensive efficiency mark. The Gaels defeated Notre Dame and Oregon in the Maui invitational before being handed their sole loss in the championship to Wisconsin.

Saint Mary’s relies on its defense and slow pace of play to grind out possessions. Colorado State thrives on its fast-paced offense that wants to get out and run at every opportunity.

In a clash of two opposite playing styles, whoever dictates the tempo will likely come out on top.

_PromoID=[9510]


Saint Mary’s Gaels

Saint Mary’s survived on the road against Utah State, 60-58, thanks to game-winning free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining. The Gaels forced the game to be played at their pace by grinding out possession by possession.

Through nine games, Saint Mary’s has dominated defensively, as Randy Bennett’s squad has held its opposition to 57 points per game, which ranks 14th best in the country. The Gaels have limited opponents to make only 45% of their field goal attempts while dominating the defensive glass.

The Gaels have five players who average double digits and are led in scoring by Dan Fotu, who comes off the bench. Fotu is averaging 13.8 points on 62% shooting despite playing just 22 minutes per game.

Tommy Kuhse and Alex Ducas are the outside shooting threats and have made a combined 23-of-53 attempts, good for 43%.

Saint Mary’s has averaged just 61 points per game over its last five contests. That could spell trouble for the Gaels if Colorado State is able to speed up the tempo on Saturday afternoon.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Colorado State Rams

Colorado State returns everyone from last year’s roster that finished 20-8 and 14-4 in Mountain West play. Much of the success has come from the dynamic duo of David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens.

Roddy is a 6-foot-6 forward who plays much bigger than his size. He’s averaged 21 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season. Roddy has been hyper-efficient offensively, hitting 44% of his 27 3-point attempts and 62% on his 2-point field goals.

Stevens is the junior point guard who has complemented Roddy with 14.9 points, 7.4 assists and a measly 1.2 turnovers per game this season.

The Rams have been dominating offensively behind their 16th-ranked offensive efficiency mark. They’ve made 61.3% of their field goal attempts, which ranks third in the nation.

The group has been shooting lights out from behind the arc, hitting 73-of-173 (42.8%) attempts, which ranks fifth in the country.

These two teams met in December of last year and the game was played at the Gaels’ tempo. Colorado State converted on 25% of its field goal attempts and mustered up 33 points in the entire game.

But rest assured, the Rams’ roster has evolved from that matchup and should impose their playing style this time around.


Saint Mary’s vs. Colorado State Betting Pick

This is a matchup between two of the top mid-major programs who are likely to win a bid to the NCAA Tournament come March. Bennett and Niko Medved are two of the top coaches in the country and will have their respected programs ready for this matchup.

But Saint Mary’s is coming off of a grueling victory over Utah State on Thursday, which could have some lingering effects for this game.

Colorado State dropped last year’s matchup 53-33 and completely laid an egg offensively. The Rams return the entire roster from last season, so they will surely have revenge on their minds. Since that matchup, Colorado State has won 23 of its 27 regular season games.

Colorado State’s offense has been firing on all cylinders this season, averaging 87 points per game behind Roddy and Stevens. The Rams will push the pace of this game against the tired legs of Saint Mary’s and get out and run at every opportunity they get.

Pick: Colorado State -3.5 (Play up to -4.5)

_PromoID=[4778]

NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Bucs vs. Falcons: Both Offenses Poised for Fireworks in NFC South Showdown

falcons vs buccaneers-nfl-odds-picks-dec-5-week 13

NFL Odds: Bucs vs. Falcons

Bucs Odds -10.5
Falcons Odds +10.5
Over/Under 50.5
Time 1 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

With New Orleans losing to Dallas on Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons remained in second in the NFC South. Wait, what?

The Falcons are DVOA’s worst team in the NFL, yet they sit at 5-6 and tied for seventh place in the NFC. This isn’t a team that is out of the playoff picture, despite its perceived market weakness.

That’s all good and well for Atlanta, until you look at its upcoming schedule: Road trips to San Francisco and Buffalo remain, as does a visit from Tom Brady and his Buccaneers on Sunday. Tampa is DVOA’s No. 1 team and has moved back into its preseason position as Super Bowl favorites.

There is a case for Atlanta being somewhat undervalued by both DVOA and the market. The Falcons offense has had some really putrid performances recently, most notably against New England in primetime, but they still may be underrated.

_PromoID=[10556, 6436, 2339]

Does that mean we should run to the window to back Atlanta against a juggernaut like Tampa Bay? Backing the Falcons is usually more painful than a root canal, and it is generally an easy way to ruin your Sunday. If you want to bet on the Falcons, they’re far more backable against teams like the Jags last Sunday or the Panthers next weekend.

Instead of doing that, there is another look here —  the total. Given Atlanta’s underrated offense and Tampa Bay’s ruthless efficiency, there is a case for points in this game. Here is that case.


Click the arrow to expand injury reports

Bucs vs. Falcons Injury Report

Bucs Injuries

  • WR Jaelon Darden (concussion): Out
  • S Jordan Whitehead (calf): Out
  • S Mike Edwards (suspension): Out
  • CB Jamel Dean (shoulder): Questionable
  • G Ali Marpet (abdomen): Questionable
  • LB Devin White (quad): Questionable

Falcons Injuries

  • DT Jonathan Bullard (ankle): Out

Bucs vs. Falcons Matchup

Bucs Offense DVOA Rank Falcons Defense
1 Total 29
1 Pass 29
2 Rush 23
Bucs Defense DVOA Rank Falcons Offense
6 Total 31
8 Pass 26
6 Rush 31
Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Buccaneers Should Score at Will

This will come as a surprise to nobody — there’s a reason why the Buccaneers’ team total is set around 30.5 depending on the shop. Tampa Bay was expected to be a top-flight offense in 2021, and it has lived up to expectation. Tom Brady is the leading candidate for MVP, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are dominating on the outside, and Rob Gronkowski has caught touchdowns in the red zone when he’s been active.

What is different about this Buccaneers team is how effective its ground game has been. Tampa Bay currently leads the NFL in rushing success rate and expected points added (EPA) per rush. The Bucs are one of three teams with a success rate on the ground above 50%, alongside Philadelphia and Kansas City. The offense looks to be on the rise this week as well, with left guard Ali Marpet practicing again. The Falcons have a handful of very good defensive players, one of whom is Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle. Having Marpet back helps Tampa neutralize Jarrett’s presence.

Getty Images. Pictured: Bucs head coach Bruce Arians

The Falcons defense is bad, and the only time this unit has stepped up has been against the bad offenses on its schedule. Atlanta ranks dead last in success rate defensively and bottom five in both EPA/dropback and EPA/rush allowed. When the Falcons have stepped up in class, it only gets worse. Atlanta allowed 32 points against the Eagles, 35 against Tampa, 34 against Washington and 43 against Dallas.

Much had been made about Tampa Bay’s struggles on the road this year leading up to last weekend’s game in Indianapolis. The Bucs are now 1-5 on the road. One should have no fear trusting Brady of all quarterbacks to handle his business on the road, particularly this weekend in a dome. Last year in Atlanta, Brady threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns against a Falcons unit that was more talented.

_PromoID=[6436]

Falcons Offense Remains Undervalued

The Falcons rank 31st in offensive DVOA, only ahead of the Houston Texans. Is that a fair characterization of this offense’s capabilities going forward? I’m not so sure.

For an offense to be 31st in DVOA but to rank ninth in passing success rate and 13th in EPA/dropback is a fairly large disconnect. The Falcons cannot run the ball — only Houston is worse — but this is a passing league now. Teams score by throwing the ball, and Atlanta is not a terrible passing offense.

Now, Calvin Ridley was in the lineup for the first five weeks, but even since his absence, Atlanta’s passing numbers have remained steady. Kyle Pitts is a solid target for Matt Ryan, and jack-of-all-trades running back Cordarelle Patterson has become an extremely valuable piece to this offense. Patterson is clearly the Falcons’ best option at RB, and his skills out of the backfield have helped immensely.

This offense had a good amount of success in the Week 2 matchup with the Buccaneers. Matt Ryan threw a pair of late pick-sixes to make his numbers look worse, but Atlanta ended up with nearly 350 yards and 25 points, and this was before Patterson was the focal point of the offense.

patriots vs. falcons-updated-odds-spread-prediction-pick-thursday night football-week 11
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons

The Bucs defensively are elite against the run but susceptible to short passing. Just look at how Dallas, Washington and New Orleans attacked them this season. Tampa is 25th in passing success rate allowed, and teams can dink and dunk their way down the field. Atlanta had a 70% passing rate in the Week 2 matchup, and I believe we can expect that — or higher — this weekend.

It is worth mentioning that Tampa Bay’s secondary is getting a big boost this weekend with Carlton Davis back. Jamel Dean should be healthy as well, making this Buccaneers cornerback unit the healthiest it’s been since Week 1. That being said, Tampa can’t catch a break injury-wise, as starting safety Jordan Whitehead has been ruled out, and backup Mike Edwards was suspended for three games. This leaves the Bucs fairly shorthanded at safety in a game where Atlanta will be throwing a ton.

In the longterm, Davis’ return to action is a big boost to Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl aspirations. This defense has underperformed this season, a large part of which is due to the cluster of injuries at corner. We may not see the full improvement this weekend against the Falcons with the safety re-shuffling, but this unit should continue to trend upwards toward the playoffs.

_PromoID=[10556]


NFL Pick: Bucs vs. Falcons

These teams combined for 73 points in Week 2, and while there were two late pick-sixes to push the total high, it was a 28-25 game at the start of the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers offense got whatever it wanted, and Matt Ryan was able to use short, efficient passing to move the ball against the Tampa secondary.

Will we see a repeat this weekend? The Buccaneers are scoring 31.5 points per game, and with a dominant passing and rushing attack, this team should be able to name its score against a fairly hapless Atlanta defense. Even in a game state where the Bucs are comfortably ahead, their offensive line should pave some nice holes for Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones against a bottom-five run defense.

Can Matt Ryan answer? He did in Week 2, and with Cordarrelle Patterson back in the mix, this offense should be able to have some success moving the ball. Atlanta will likely throw the ball on 70% of snaps or more, either stopping the clock or moving the ball down the field.

And if Atlanta has a lead, Tampa Bay will certainly be able to put points on the board in a comeback effort given the Falcons’ inability to run the ball.

In the end, all game states point toward an over. The Bucs offense is a juggernaut, while Atlanta may have more firepower than the market suggests. A total of 50.5 is widely available at time of writing, and there’s some value here in backing points at that price.

Pick: Over 50.5 | Bet to: 50.5

_PromoID=[2339]

More Bucs-Falcons Odds, Picks, Trends

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions for San Diego State vs. Michigan: Where Does the Value Lie?

college basketball-odds-picks-betting-san diego state vs michigan-saturday december 4

San Diego State vs. Michigan Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
1 p.m. ET
CBS
San Diego State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+9
-115
126.5
-105o / -115u
+300
Michigan Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-9
-105
126.5
-105o / -115u
-390
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Michigan Wolverines look lost this season. North Carolina demolished them in Chapel Hill on Wednesday night and Juwan Howard’s team does not even look remotely similar to 2020-21.

This team beat Buffalo to open the year but has dropped games against any noteworthy competition: Seton Hall, Arizona and UNC. Those are good teams, yes, but the average margin of loss in those three games was 13.3 points. This is concerning.

_PromoID=[9510]


San Diego State Aztecs

San Diego State has its own issues. The Aztecs have injuries to both Lamont Butler and Adam Seiko. Butler is their third-leading scorer and Seiko is a solid backup role player.

They are 5-2, but have had similar trouble to Michigan with tougher teams. Their two losses were to USC and BYU, where they manufactured a combined 103 points.

Both teams look lost when playing solid competition. Both of these teams should be better than they are and no one should trust these offenses to put together a show. The under deserves a look here, as it is a bit too high for these struggling teams.

San Diego State is now a fixture in West Coast college basketball, but it does not have much under its collective belt thus far this season. The Aztecs only have two players averaging at least 10 points per game and their team averages 63.9 points per game.

Do not expect this to change against a Michigan team out for blood after being embarrassed by UNC.

The Aztecs’ strength resides in their defense. Per KenPom, they have the third-best defensive efficiency in all of college hoops. They hold opponents to a paltry 22.8% from 3-point land, and Michigan only shoots 29.4% from downtown this year.

Sure, Michigan does not shoot many outside shots, but this basically eliminates this element for SDSU to even consider guarding.

SDSU also restricts 2-point shooting, as well, allowing only a 44.5% field goal percentage inside the arc. They are not tall by any means, but Nathan Mensah should be able to hold his own matching up with Hunter Dickinson or Moussa Diabate.

There is a mismatch if both are on the floor, but the Aztecs already were going to lose the rebounding battle with the Wolverines. If they can somewhat mitigate this risk, they can keep this game tight and restrict Michigan’s chances at second shots on possessions.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan will probably come out firing on all cylinders in this one. There is no way Howard will take the loss to UNC lightly.

Now, Michigan will win the rebounding category easily. The Wolverines’ power is in their posts and they have the depth to back it up if someone is in foul trouble. The under will be in jeopardy if Michigan is easily attaining second chances off the glass. Otherwise, this should be in play.

Michigan has a sturdy defense, too. The Wolverines will not force many turnovers, but they will not foul often. Since they run at an equally slow tempo on both sides of the ball, they will control the pace of the game.

Per KenPom, their adjusted tempo ranks 288th in the NCAA, and SDSU’s is 305th. This says Michigan will ensure the Aztecs utilize their entire shot clock and Michigan will haul in the board from their bigs after only one shot.


San Diego State vs. Michigan Betting Pick

Both of these teams have scrappy defenses and frankly, play at a pretty boring tempo.

Michigan will out-rebound San Diego State, but not enough where it should impact the total.

Given how both teams are shooting sub-30% from 3-point range, there will not be many outside shots falling. Take the under.

Pick: Under 126.5 (Play to 124)

Deposit $50, Get $100 FREE!

Deposit $50 using code BET100

Get $100 free!

New users only

AAC Championship Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet Houston vs. Cincinnati in College Football

cincinnati vs. houston-odds-picks-betting-aac championship-december 4

Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
ABC
Houston Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+10.5
-110
52.5
-110o / -110u
+340
Cincinnati Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-10.5
-110
52.5
-110o / -110u
-450
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Cincinnati looks to finish the regular season undefeated and potentially secure its spot in the College Football Playoff when it plays host to Houston in the AAC Championship.

Houston is red-hot, going undefeated since its opening weekend loss to Texas Tech. The Cougars have one of the best defensive units in the country and will be a nightmare for Cincinnati, which hasn’t faced a defense even close to this level since its win in over Notre Dame in South Bend.

Cincinnati has passed every test so far this season, but the Bearcats haven’t been impressive enough in the committee’s eyes, considering they are barely holding onto the fourth spot. The good news is the window for them to get into the College Football Playoff will open up if Georgia beats Alabama.

The question is, can Cincinnati pass its final and potentially toughest test to end the regular season undefeated for the second straight year?

_PromoID=[8749, 7293, 10391]


Houston Cougars

Houston Offense

Houston’s offense has struggled at times this season, as it’s 61st in Success Rate and 46th in EPA/Play, which is not that great considering the Cougars’ strength of schedule was 119th this season.

In fact, Houston did not face a defense that ranks inside the top 40 in EPA/Play allowed.

Most of Houston’s issues offensively have come on the ground, where the Cougars gain only 4.1 yards per carry. Houston is also 85th in Rushing Success Rate and 113th in Offensive Line Yards but 26th in rushing explosiveness.

Unfortunately, playing terrible run defenses all season long has inflated Houston’s rushing explosiveness ranking and it will be facing a Cincinnati defense that sits 24th in rushing explosiveness allowed, so I don’t know how the Cougars are going to run the ball consistently.

Most of Houston’s success has come through the air with Clayton Tune, who is having a fantastic season. Tune is averaging 8.5 yards per attempt and has a 91.7 PFF passing grade with 29 big-time throws and only 12 turnover-worthy plays.

However, only three of his 12 opponents rank inside the top 75 in terms of coverage grade, so dealing with the second-best coverage unit in college football is going to be a massive step up in competition.

Houston Defense

Houston’s defense has been dominating opponents all season long. The Cougars are only allowing 4.6 yards per play, rank fourth in success rate allowed and fifth in EPA/Play allowed.

The strength of Houston’s defense lies in its front seven, where PFF has the unit graded as the best pass-rushing group in all of college football. That will be huge in this matchup because Cincinnati has struggled in pass protection this season, ranking 82nd in pass-blocking grade.

Houston has also been incredibly stout versus the run, ranking 12th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, seventh in Defensive Line Yards and 12th in EPA/Rush allowed. So, it’ll be able to slow down Cincinnati’s prolific rushing attack.

The Houston secondary has been just as good, if not better, than the front seven, but it does help when the opposing quarterback is constantly under pressure.

The Cougars are allowing only 6.5 yards per pass attempt, rank second in Passing Success Rate Allowed and have the eighth-best coverage grade, per PFF. They should find a way to limit Desmond Ridder even if they can’t stop him outright.

The biggest thing for Houston defensively is that it’s 15th in Finishing Drives, which is huge against a Cincinnati offense that is very efficient at putting the ball in the end zone once it crosses the 40-yard line.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Cincinnati Bearcats

Cincinnati Offense

This will be a huge test for a Cincinnati offense that hasn’t faced the stiffest of competition this season.

The Bearcats are 13th in Success Rate and 20th in EPA/Play, but Notre Dame is the only team they’ve faced that’s inside in the top 40 in EPA/Play allowed.

The Bearcats have been running the ball effectively with starting running back Jerome Ford having an incredible season. He’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry with 16 touchdowns.

Ford and the Cincinnati rushing attack rank 13th in Rushing Success Rate, 46th in Offensive Line Yards and second in EPA/Rush.

However, this is the best rush defense Cincinnati has seen all season long. In fact, Cincinnati averaged only 4.0 yards per carry last Friday against an East Carolina front seven that ranks 67th in EPA/Rush allowed.

Ridder has been playing better over the past four games and now has an 88.4 PFF passing grade on the season with 23 big-time throws and only nine turnover-worthy plays. The most important aspect of the offense for Cincinnati will be how Ridder can withstand pressure.

Ridder has a passing grade that drops to 67.6 when pressured — which he will be a lot — so I’m not sure he’s going to be as impactful against a top-10 pass rush and secondary in college football.

_PromoID=[8749]

Cincinnati Defense

Cincinnati’s defense has been outstanding all season and really is the reason the team is still undefeated.

The Bearcats allow only 4.2 yards per play, which is the fourth-best mark in the country. Cincy is also one of only four teams in college football to rank inside the top 10 in both EPA/Rush allowed and EPA/Pass allowed.

The way to beat Cincinnati is to run the ball consistently. The Bearcats are 30th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, 27th in Defensive Line Yards and 29th in Stuff Rate. However, Houston has one of the worst rushing attacks in the AAC, so that area shouldn’t be exploited on Saturday.

Next, opponents have to be able to break off explosive plays. The Bearcats are 14th in the country in big plays allowed, which is huge against this Houston offense, which has the ninth-most big plays this season.

The problem with facing Cincinnati is that teams can’t throw on its secondary. The Bearcats are allowing only 5.4 yards per attempt, rank fifth in EPA/Pass, seventh in Passing Success Rate Allowed, and own the second-best coverage grade in the country, per PFF.

Cincinnati has one of the best cornerbacks in college football in Sauce Gardner, who has only been targeted 34 times in 815 plays and has yet to allow a touchdown.

Add in Coby Bryant on the other side, and it’s clear that Tune and the Houston offense will have a really difficult time moving the ball through the air.


Houston vs. Cincinnati Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Houston and Cincinnati match up statistically:

Houston Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 85 30
Line Yards 113 27
Pass Success 17 7
Pass Blocking** 18 4
Big Play 9 14
Havoc 97 19
Finishing Drives 16 5
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Cincinnati Offense vs. Houston Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 19 12
Line Yards 46 7
Pass Success 45 2
Pass Blocking** 82 1
Big Play 61 13
Havoc 14 4
Finishing Drives 12 15
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 72 3
Coverage 8 2
Middle 8 42 11
SP+ Special Teams 75 72
Plays per Minute 112 70
Rush Rate 53.1% (78) 53.8% (73)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Houston vs. Cincinnati Betting Pick

With two of the best defenses in the Group of Five that both rank top-20 in Finishing Drives going up against two offenses that haven’t seen an opposing defense like their opponent, this will be a low-scoring affair.

Houston ranks 112th in plays per minute, while Cincinnati is 70th in that same category. So, the pace of this game is also going to be slow.

I have only 50.19 points projected for this game, so I like the under of 53.5 points.

Pick: Under 53.5

_PromoID=[7293]

AAC Championship Odds, Predictions for Houston vs. Cincinnati: Our Staff’s Consensus Best Bets (Saturday, Dec. 4)

houston-vs-cincinnati-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-aac-championship-saturday-december 4-2021

Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
ABC
Houston Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+10.5
-110
52.5
-110o / -110u
+340
Cincinnati Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-10.5
-110
52.5
-110o / -110u
-450
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

AAC Championship

Houston vs. Cincinnati

By Alex Kolodziej

The Group of 5’s best gets one more chance to make a closing statement in the Conference USA championship game.

Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati Bearcats have been perfect. While they haven’t been as consistently dominant as the likes of Georgia, the Bearcats have passed every single test so far in 2021.

Standing in the way of potential history, though, is a red-hot Houston team. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has apparently finally found his footing with the mid-major program. He led the Cougars to 11 straight wins entering Saturday’s highly-anticipated AAC title game, which features two schools that finished the regular season in the top-10 nationally in average scoring margin.

Here are our thoughts on the spread, total and a handful of notable player props.


Houston vs. Cincinnati Spread

Houston +10.5

5 Picks

Cincinnati -10.5

7 Picks

By Doug Ziefel

This is a matchup of formidable winning streaks. Cincinnati has won all 12 of its games this season and certainly earned all the praise it has been given. Houston, though, hasn’t lost since its season opener and has 11 straight wins.

Overall records may matter to the College Football Playoff Committee, but to us, the only record that matters is against the spread. From that perspective, this game is a wash since both went 7-5 this season.

Cincinnati finished the season as strongly as it could. The Bearcats blew out their final opponents 83-27, which shows their dominance and how they deserve to be in the College Football Playoff.

But which Cincinnati team will we get in this one? The lockdown defense combined with a Heisman-level quarterback on offense, or will we see a flat Bearcats team that failed to put away teams like Tulsa and Navy?

There is no questioning this Bearcats defense, which is truly one of the best in the country, but it cannot overlook this Houston offense. The Cougars present a balanced attack that can be very explosive and ranks seventh nationally in points per play.

On the other side of the ball, it is much more of the same story. This Houston team matches up with the Bearcats much better than the spread may tell you. Defensively, the Cougars rank seventh in opponent yards per game and fourth in opponent’s third-down conversion rate.

The Houston defense also appears to have an answer for the Bearcats, regardless of how they will try to attack them. If Cincinnati goes to the air with Desmond Ridder, the Cougars rank 12th in opponent completion percentage and 20th in yards per pass allowed. If the Bearcats stay on the ground with Jerome Ford, Houston held opposing rushers to just 3.2 yards per carry, which is 10th nationally.

Our staff here at the Action Network is largely backing the Cougars to keep it close in the AAC Championship game. The numbers say that the Cougars will give the Bearcats all they can handle and that certainly creates value on the 10.5-point spread.

Staff Pick: Houston +10.5

_PromoID=[8749, 7293, 10391]

Houston vs. Cincinnati Over/Under

Over 53

3 Picks

Under 53

9 Picks

By Kyle Remillard

The Bearcats defense has been the star of the show this season but matches up here against a Houston offense that has thrived through the passing attack behind the arm of Clayton Tune. He has thrown for 26 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards while completing 69% of his passes.

That will play into the strength of the Cincinnati defense, though, since the Bearcats hold opponents to 5.4 yards per pass attempt, which is second best in the country. The Bearcats defensive front has 37 sacks on the season, and the secondary has 14 interceptions.

Against FBS competition, the Bearcats have allowed 4.2 yards per play which ranks fourth in the nation. They have been just as good against the run, allowing a measly 3.6 yards per carry.

Houston’s defense has been its unsung hero this season, holding opponents to less than 20 points per game. The Cougars have been just as dominant against the run ranking 10th in yards per rush at 3.2. They will be able to stabilize the run game and force Desmond Ridder to beat them with his arm.

Cincinnati will be playing this game at Nippert Stadium, where the Bearcats have won 26 straight games. In six home games this season, the Cincinnati defense has held opponents to 13 points and fewer than 130 passing yards per game.

Five of the last six games have gone under for Cincinnati, and I anticipate the defense to have its best outing of the season against Houston. I’m playing under 53 in this matchup between two of the top defenses in the AAC.

Staff Pick: Under 53


Houston vs. Cincinnati Player Props

Jeremy Singleton Under 61.5 Receiving Yards

By Darin Gardner

Singleton plays almost exclusively on the outside, which will have him lined up against Cincinnati’s dominant outside cornerback duo of Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant. There aren’t many better players at the position than those two, who are the driving forces behind Cincinnati’s No. 2 ranking in yards allowed per pass attempt.

Starting with Gardner, it seems as though teams have made a conscious effort to avoid the potential first-round pick, and with good reason. He’s only been targeted 36 times this season on 409 coverage snaps, per Pro Football Focus, and has allowed just 17 catches for 134 yards. That’s resulted in a yards per target figure of just 3.7 and a passer rating allowed of 22.2. If a Houston receiver catches a touchdown on Gardner, it will be the first time that’s happened against him in 2021.

Then there’s Bryant, who ranks 12th nationally in PFF’s coverage grade among cornerbacks, with Gardner ranking 13th. Bryant has been targeted much more than Gardner (64 times, to be exact), but he’s allowed just 27 of those to be caught for a 42% completion percentage and 5.4 yards per target.

Going back to Singleton, he’s averaging 47 yards per game in his 10 games played this season, hitting the 100-yard mark for the first time last week against UConn. He’s only seeing 11.5% of the targets in Houston’s passing offense and has surpassed three catches in just three of his games. The volume just hasn’t been consistent, and his matchup against this Cincinnati secondary is just about as tough as it gets with the Bearcats’ elite cornerback tandem and press-heavy scheme.

Pick: Jeremy Singleton Under 61.5 Receiving Yards

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: 4 Best Bets for Saturday, Including Clippers vs. Kings & Celtics vs. Trail Blazers

nba betting picks-odds-predictions-preview-dec 4-saturday-2021

From start to finish, we have NBA bettors covered on Saturday afternoon.

The action kicks off on the East Coast on Saturday, when the Knicks will host the Nuggets at Madison Square Garden. Things get intriguing as we move to the West Coast at night, with the Celtics and Clippers playing their second game in as many nights. Boston will play in Portland, while Los Angeles looks to win its second in as many nights in Sacramento after taking down the Lakers on Friday.

Check out our detailed picks and breakdowns below for a full slate of action in the Association.

The ultimate NBA betting cheat code

Best bets for every game

Our NBA model’s biggest daily edges

Profitable data-driven system picks

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks
1 p.m. ET
Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers
10 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. ET

Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks

Pick
Knicks 1H -1 (-105)
Book
Caesars
Tipoff
1 p.m. ET
TV
League Pass

Malik Smith: The Knicks’ inconsistencies have been well documented this season. When they start well, they don’t finish. When they have poor starts they punch back with spirited runs that get them back in the game and lead to wildly unpredictable endings.

Today they have an early tip (1 p.m. ET) at the Garden against the banged up Nuggets who are dealing with injuries and COVID-related absences that have sapped their depth. The Knicks have also had some injury issues, with Nerlens Noel and RJ Barrett missing their last game. Barrett is expected to play, while Noel is questionable.

There is more reason for optimism for the Knickerbockers entering this matchup. Last season, in games that tipped between noon and 3:30 ET, the Knicks were 10-1 against the first half spread and 8-0 at Madison Square Garden.

If you’ve been following this team closely, I know what you’re thinking: This ain’t last year’s team. And while that has been true on the floor for the first 22 games, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau certainly commands the same effort from his squad.

With their recent stretch of close losses (or moral victories for the glass half full crowd), I expect the Knicks to come out with more energy to start and keep this trend alive. The added advantage of having one of the best bench units in the league going up against a thin Nuggets rotation gives me even more confidence.

_PromoID=[5873, 8074, 8273, 7961, 8080]


» Return to the table of contents «


Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers

Pick
Celtics -1.5
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
League Pass

Matthew Trebby: Portland is 8-4 against the spread (ATS) this season at home compared to 1-10 on the road. When the Blazers lose, they do it in impressively bad fashion.

The Blazers finished a three-game road trip last week that saw them lose by four, 15 and 22 points to the Kings, Warriors and Jazz. They beat the Pistons at home before a dreadful 31-point loss to the Spurs.

Things are not going to get better for Portland in this one, as it will still be without Damian Lillard.

On the other side, Boston seems likely to get Jaylen Brown back after he sat out Friday night’s game against the Jazz. Brown did play in the Celtics’ previous five games.

While this is the back end of a back-to-back, Boston is 3-1 ATS on the back end of a back-to-back this season.

Things are not well in Portland either, given Neil Olshey’s firing on Friday. I know there’s such a thing as a “head coach gets fired” bump, but I’m not sure the same thing applies to a GM.


» Return to the table of contents «


Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings

Pick
Clippers +1.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
League Pass

Raheem Palmer: The Sacramento Kings haven’t exactly been the standard for excellence in the NBA these days. They’re just 9-14 on the season, ranking 25th in Net Rating (-2.9).

In Tuesday’s 124-115 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, though, Sacramento didn’t resemble one of the league’s bottom feeders. The Kings scored 122.8 points per 100 possessions in a game that saw the Clippers struggle to compete for most of it. All things considered, it feels as if that performance said more about the Clippers than the Kings as they struggled to defend most of the night.

Although Los Angeles is on the back end of a back-to-back, I’m expecting a better effort here against a Kings team that generally struggles to score in the half court, ranking 22nd in half-court point per play (89). Sacramento is equally as bad on defense and offense, ranking 28th in Defensive Rating (113) and 28th in Offensive Rating.

Typically when we see teams play twice in one week or back-to-back, there’s a noticeable impact in effort from the team who lost the first game. In this case, it’s the Clippers. If Paul George plays, they should win this one going away, even coming off a back-to-back game against the Lakers.

_PromoID=[5114, 5113, 2339]


» Return to the table of contents «


Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings

Pick
Over 218.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
League Pass

Austin Wang: Last Wednesday, this matchup had a combined 239 points — and that was without George.

In the six games that Alvin Gentry has coached since taking over for Luke Walton, the Kings’ Defensive Rating is 25th (115.2) in the NBA, per NBA Advanced Stats. Somehow, Sacramento’s bad defense has gotten even worse.

On the other hand, the Clippers have been one of the lower-scoring teams in the league this season in part due to their slow-ish pace and relying on their defense to win games. However, Los Angeles’ defense has taken a step back in their last few games. They’ve given up 115, 124 and 123 in their last three games to the Kings, Lakers and Pelicans. All three of those games went over the total.

One predictive metric for totals I found in recent performances is assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Clippers have had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8 and 3.2 in their last two games. Since 2018, teams with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.75 or more in their two previous games are 148-93-4 (61.4%) to the over, per the Sports Data Query Language at Gimme the Dog.

This is active on the Clippers as I think they can keep up their recent efficiency on offense against a poor Kings’ defense.

This total has seen significant steam upwards from its opening line of 215.5 in a move I agree with. I expect another high-scoring game between these two teams and would bet the over at 219 (up to 220).


» Return to the table of contents «


The must-have app for NBA bettors

The best NBA betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Georgia vs. Alabama Odds, Picks and Predictions: 2 Ways to Bet Saturday’s SEC Championship Game (Dec. 4)

georgia vs. alabama-odds-picks-betting-sec championship-december 4

Georgia vs. Alabama Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
CBS
Georgia Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6.5
-110
49.5
-105o / -115u
-265
Alabama Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6.5
-110
49.5
-105o / -115u
+215
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Alabama has been favored in 164 games of a possible 165 since the 2009 season. The one instance of being an underdog came in 2015 against top-10 Georgia squad, as the Bulldogs were favored by a single point.

Head coach Nick Saban throttled Georgia to the tune of 38-10, as the Crimson Tide continued their ways as a dominant force in college football.

Much of Alabama’s success goes back to the best defensive coordinators in the nation, as Kirby Smart left Saban’s staff for Georgia and has already produced an SEC Championship.

Saban took a loss to Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M earlier this season, bringing the mark to 24-1 when the Alabama coach takes on former assistants. Smart will now look to be the second assistant to notch a victory over his former boss.

In order for Georgia to lock up the No. 1 seed in the playoff, the defense must deal with the Heisman frontrunner in Bryce Young. Smart was quoted as saying he is the best point guard in college football, representing the biggest challenge Georgia’s defense has seen to date.

_PromoID=[11029, 11030, 10391]


Georgia Bulldogs

There may not be a single flaw in the Georgia defense, posting numbers that would make this unit one of the best over the past decade.

The 3-3-5 scheme is the best defense in the nation at Finishing Drives, coverage, defending the explosive play, Passing Success Rate and tackle grading.

What is even more impressive is that no single defensive player ranks in the top 50 for tackles for loss or pass breakups, signifying this is a true team effort.

A number of teams, including Arkansas above, have tried to stretch the field from sideline to sideline against the Bulldogs. That tactic has been an inefficacious style to attack the fastest defense in the nation, as Georgia has put opponents in an average third down distance of 7.8 yards to go.

The Bulldogs have three defenders who rank in the top 200 in pass-rush productivity and four members of the secondary who rank top-200 in coverage grading.

This is a lockdown unit that does not allow completions to turn into explosive plays. A trio of safeties in Dan Jackson, Christopher Smith and Lewis Cine all rank top-30 in yards per reception when targeted.

The revelation on offense is the emergence of Stetson Bennett and his ability to limit mistakes. After posting 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions the previous two seasons, Bennett has 21 touchdowns to just five interceptions this season.

The quarterback speaks often about a heightened level of comfort in pressured dropbacks and decision-making in when to leave the pocket. The quarterback has nearly 300 yards rushing with 149 of them on designed runs this season.

One element that has changed with Georgia is chunk plays, more than doubling the national average in explosive drive percentage.

Before coordinator Todd Monken came to Athens, Georgia had issues finding an identity in the passing game. The Bulldogs are fourth in Passing Downs Success Rate and have a top-25 air attack when it comes to the explosive pass.

Now, the Bulldogs have multiple running backs to slow a game down and a passing attack to jump into a two-minute drill. Although Georgia is 113th in plays per minute, that number is a bit deceiving with the amount of rushing plays called in blowout games.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Alabama Crimson Tide

Through a full regular season of play, oddsmakers are still charging 2020 prices on the 2021 Crimson Tide squad. Alabama closed as near three-touchdown favorites in consecutive weeks against Arkansas and Auburn, needing heroics at the end of both games to escape defeat.

The defense had a masterful game in Jordan-Hare, stuffing Auburn on 73% of rushing attempts and allowing just three plays from scrimmage to exceed 20 yards.

That same defense stuffed Arkansas on almost 50% of attempts but failed to contain KJ Jefferson in passing downs. Arkansas nearly doubled the national average for methodical drives because it owned the Tide in passing downs.

The defense deserves only minimal blame for the past two weeks, as the offensive line has Bryce Young scrambling for his lungs.

Before the Iron Bowl, Saban remarked there would be no further changes to the offensive line. Chris Owens, Darrian Dalcourt and Damieon George Jr. continue to post subpar grades in both rush and pass blocking.

The Crimson Tide are now outside the top 70 in Rushing Success Rate, Havoc Allowed and Line Yards.

In a very un-Alabama-like fashion, the offensive line ranks 111th in tackles for loss and 129th in Passing Downs Sack Rate. With offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien soon to be headed out of Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide will continue to mask issues in the trench in the SEC Championship game.

Another potential issue for the Tide is the health of the backfield. Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams are out for the season, while workhorse Brian Robinson Jr. is listed as questionable for this game.

If Robinson is unable to go in the SEC Championship game, Alabama is looking at a backfield of just Trey Sanders. The sophomore running back has just 50 carries on the season with a low 2.5 yards after contact.

_PromoID=[11029]


Georgia vs. Alabama Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Georgia and Alabama match up statistically:

Georgia Offense vs. Alabama Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 39 7
Line Yards 20 3
Pass Success 24 41
Pass Blocking** 10 50
Big Play 9 46
Havoc 6 7
Finishing Drives 7 89
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Alabama Offense vs. Georgia Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 71 5
Line Yards 76 11
Pass Success 6 1
Pass Blocking** 51 13
Big Play 6 1
Havoc 70 9
Finishing Drives 10 1
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 1 4
Coverage 1 26
Middle 8 2 3
SP+ Special Teams 32 25
Plays per Minute 113 59
Rush Rate 59.8% (31) 50.3% (96)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Georgia vs. Alabama Betting Pick

Alabama’s rushing game may be nonexistent for the SEC Championship Game due to injury. The point of having a ground game may be moot against a Georgia defense that shuts down any rushing attack and consistently puts opponents in passing downs.

If Alabama is to win this game, Young must seal the Heisman Trophy by having the quickest release in college football. Kirby Smart was cognizant that Young has continually improved his release time in passing attempts.

An average quarterback release time in college football is 2.5 seconds, with hurry-up no-huddle offenses going faster and teams with great pass blocking allowing quarterbacks to hold the ball longer.

Young has attempted a heavy amount of passes under two seconds as the season goes along, posting one of his highest QB ratings at 1.5 seconds of release time.

The Alabama Defensive Finishing Drives rank of 89th cannot be ignored. The Crimson Tide have allowed any opposing offense that crosses the 40-yard line to put points on the board. Of the 26 red-zone scores against the Tide, 18 of them have been touchdowns, putting Alabama at 70th in red-zone touchdown percentage.

The Action Network projects this game at Georgia -7, giving value to any Bulldogs number under a touchdown. The total is projected at 51, but with the circumstances in this game, there could be more scoring than expected.

Georgia holds a large Finishing Drives advantage over the Tide. Considering Young has no running game to help on offense, the passing game with a release point under two seconds might be the Tide’s only strategy to stay in this game.

Pick: Over 50 or Better · Georgia -6.5 or Better

_PromoID=[11030]

Aston Villa vs. Leicester City Odds, Prediction, Preview: Back Structured Side in Premier League Clash

aston villa vs. leicester city-odds-pick-prediction-premier league-2021

Aston Villa vs. Leicester City Odds

Aston Villa Odds +145
Leicester Odds +205
Draw +230
Over/Under 2.5 (-115 / -110)
Day | Time Sunday | 11:30 a.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

After two wins and a valiant effort against the league champions, Aston Villa returns home to take on Leicester in an important mid-table battle.

The Foxes have had a disappointing first half of the year, and they’ve won just won of their last five. The lack of ability to string together successful results has left Leicester City eight points back of fourth after a campaign in which it narrowly missed out on the position.

Here is what to look out for when the Foxes travel to Villa Park.

_PromoID=[5113, 5114, 4778]

Aston Villa Showing its Consistency

After Steven Gerrard took over as manager at Villa, it became clear that the hire would be able to invigorate a group of players that looked lost in the games leading up to his arrival.

Though Villa hasn’t had groundbreaking performances, it has found an incredibly solid defensive structure that provided a backbone for the team. In the past three games, Villa has conceded just three goals, and it has also conceded only 2.56 xGA, showing the lack of chances that the Lions have conceded.

Offensively, Villa has scored five in the last three while amassing 2.29 xG. The Lions have finished their chances well and capitalized on opportunities in an efficient manner, something that will prove to be crucial to stay in the middle of the table.

The loss of Leon Bailey to a muscle injury is unfortunate for Gerrard, but the way that Villa is playing, the emphasis is on defense anyway, so you can count on another sturdy performance.

Leicester City Struggling to Find Dual-Competition Results

Though it may seem like the Foxes haven’t been able to put anything together this year, they’ve been solid in the Europa League, with a key final round of group stage matches ahead.

Leicester has won two, drawn two and lost one and sits just atop its group, but a bout with Napoli awaits on Thursday. The Italian side sits a point off of the Foxes while Spartak Moscow is level on points but behind on tiebreakers. Those results haven’t been able to translate to the Premier League, however, where Leicester has amassed five points in its past five games.

The biggest problem has been its defense, which hasn’t conceded less than one xG in a Premier League game since September. In fact, Leicester is conceding the third-most xGA in the league (1.71).

Another concern comes from the fact that Brendan Rodgers has to consider how he wants to treat his lineup prior to a massive matchup with Napoli. Does he go all-out in both games and risk a poor second performance, or go with a conservative lineup in hopes of excelling in a critical final round match?

The must-have app for Soccer bettors

The best soccer betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Betting Analysis & Pick

For me, there’s really no choice here but to back Villa when it has been playing efficient and tough football. This isn’t the same side that was taking the pitch before Gerrard arrived, and it’s one that has the capability of exploiting Leicester’s weak back line and remaining stable against an effective attack.

Leicester will also have the thought of Napoli on Thursday in the back of its mind. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a flat performance from the Foxes who know advancing in the Europa League would pay major financial dividends.

Look for Gerrard’s squad to keep the progress moving and show the difference between an inspired and well-structured team against one that is loose and in a slump mentally.

Pick: Aston Villa — Draw No Bet (-140)

_PromoID=[268, 4996]

Kent State vs. Northern Illinois MAC Championship Odds, Predictions, Picks: Where 12 Experts See Betting Value

kent state-vs-northern illinous-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-mac championship-saturday-december 4-2021

Kent State vs. Northern Illinois Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Kent State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3.5
-110
75.5
-105o / -115u
-160
Northern Illinois Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3.5
-110
75.5
-105o / -115u
+140
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

MAC Championship

Kent State vs. Northern Illinois

By Alex Kolodziej

The 2021 MAC Championship features one team that started the year 0-3 with a -75 scoring margin against FBS opponents, and another that was expected to win roughly four games all season.

If that doesn’t scream “MAC,” then I’m not sure what does.

It’s the second ever title appearance for Kent State and first for head coach Sean Lewis. His Golden Flashes were no match for a string of Power 5 foes out of the gates, but they did go 6-2 in conference play to secure the MAC East.

Kent State is the favorite over Northern Illinois, which crushed its win total by mid-October thanks to a slew of signature victories.

The Huskies clearly like the underdog role, having won a whopping four games at plus money in 2021, including Georgia Tech (+19) and Toledo (+13).

Let’s dive into the biggest edges on the spread and total, as well as the player prop market for Saturday’s tilt.


Kent State vs. Northern Illinois Spread

Kent State -3.5

11 Picks

Northern Illinois +3.5

1 Pick

By Mike Ianniello

Northern Illinois finished the 2020 MAC-only season with a winless 0-6 record. While the Huskies have definitely improved from last season, they have also been the beneficiaries of a lot of good fortunes.

Thomas Hammock’s squad finished the year 8-4 and 6-2 in the MAC. NIU was a remarkable 7-2 in one score games. The only team the Huskies beat by more than eight points was Maine.

Our Action Network college football staff isn’t buying it. Eleven of our 12 writers like NIU’s luck to run out and Kent State to cover in this conference-title matchup.

The first meeting between these two teams was a 52-47 Kent State win that saw the Golden Flashes offense rack up 681 yards, averaging 9.1 yards per play.

Northern Illinois was able to hang around thanks to Rocky Lombardi posting a career-high 532 passing yards and three touchdowns. Expecting him to replicate that performance is a tall ask. He has a passer grade of just 65.6 per Pro Football Focus, ranking 17th in the MAC, just slightly behind Bowling Green’s Matt McDonald.

Lombardi will need to have another career day to outmatch this Kent State attack. The Flashes offense ranks fifth in the country in Success Rate. This unit moves the ball and does so quickly.

In the first meeting, the Golden Flashes rushed for 360 yards and five touchdowns. Marquez Cooper torched them for 173 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 7.5 yards per carry. Kent State ranks sixth in the country in Rushing Success rate and Line Yards, and it has a great matchup here. The Huskies rank 126th in Rushing Success on defense and 128th in Line Yards.

Quarterback Dustin Crum has been more dangerous with his legs this season for Kent State, but he still grades out as the best passer in the MAC, according to PFF, and can sling it when he needs to. He has the 15th-best passer grade in the country among all QBs with at least 300 drop backs, and he has the No. 7-ranked offensive grade among quarterbacks.

Once this Flashes offense gets rolling, it’s almost impossible to stop. Northern Illinois has been outplayed in most games, despite its record, and we expect that to finally catch up to it in what should be a shootout. We are backing Kent State to pull away and win its first MAC Championship in school history.

Staff Pick: Kent State -3.5

_PromoID=[7892, 11118, 10391]

Kent State vs. Northern Illinois Over/Under

Over 74.5

9 Picks

Under 74.5

3 Picks

By Kody Malstrom

Expect points to be scored. A lot of them for a matter of fact.

This is sneakily going to be one of the more exciting games of the weekend, with both teams possessing some offensive firepower and facing some very poor defenses. This is going to be a great way to kick off the last full Saturday slate of games for our viewing pleasure.

Kent State comes in with one of the most successful rushing attacks in the nation and will once again be able to do what they want on the ground against NIU’s awful run defense. The Flashes’ fast tempo will also playThey are also one of the fastest units in football who prefer to play at an up-tempo pace, ranking third in plays per minute.

NIU will come in with a similar game plan as an elite rushing team, ranking 21st in Rush Success. The Huskies aren’t too shabby through the air either. With Kent State ranking 90th or worse in every defensive metric, Northern Illinois will have plenty of ways to find yards en-route to the endzone.

Expect big gains to happen early and often, as both units are horrific at stopping explosiveness — Kent State comes in at 90th while NIU ranks 119th. With both being very poor at generating any Havoc, this is set up for quick successful drives on both ends with hopes of busted plays happening for large gains.

The cherry on top for us over bettors are both defenses’ inability to stop drives past the 40-yard line. Both units are 100th or worse in Def. Finishing Drives. When either team gets past the 40, expect points to be put on the board. With a high total of 73.5, we will need nearly every possession to end up with points.

Safe to say the defense isn’t the reason these teams made it this far.

Staff Pick: Over 73.5


The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Kent State vs. Northern Illinois College Football Odds & Picks: How To Bet MAC Championship Game (Dec. 4)

kent state vs. northern illinois-odds-picks-betting-mac championship-december 4

Kent State vs. Northern Illinois Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Kent State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3.5
-110
75.5
-105o / -115u
-160
Northern Illinois Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3.5
-110
75.5
-105o / -115u
+140
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

We have one final round of MACtion left in the college football season to determine the 2021 conference champion when Kent State takes on Northern Illinois in Detroit on Saturday.

The Golden Flashes, who lost their only conference championship appearance in 2012, are seeking their first conference title since 1972. Meanwhile, NIU has had much more recent success with a 4-4 overall record in the MAC title game with its most recent appearance coming back in 2018.

If Kent State wants to capture that elusive conference title for the first time in 49 years, it will have to defeat NIU for a second time this season after holding on for a 52-47 victory earlier this season.

While it’s not a huge surprise that Kent State made the conference championship (on the last play of the regular season), but it’s certainly a shocker to see NIU here after nobody really expected the very young Huskies to do much of anything this season.

Oddsmakers set their season win total at just four, which they doubled up en route to an 8-4 record.

Can the Huskies finish off their magical season with a conference title, or will Kent State finally end a near 50-year drought? Let’s take a closer look.

_PromoID=[7892, 11118, 10391]


Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State goes as its offense goes.

The Golden Flashes feature one of the most explosive offenses in the country with a three-headed monster rushing attack that includes the rushing ability of quarterback Dustin Crum, who flawlessly executes the Kent State read-option offense. He also has an abundance of dangerous weapons at wide receiver.

The Golden Flashes want to play as fast as possible with their “Flash Fast” mentality. No team in FBS had more touchdown drives that took fewer than two minutes.

The offensive line has also performed at a high level, ranking in the top 10 nationally in Line Yards and Opportunity Rate. It should have no issues pushing around a horrendous NIU defensive front that sits in the bottom 10 nationally in almost every category.

The one weakness Kent State has is sacks allowed on passing downs, but the NIU defense is helpless in that area, ranking 121st in Passing Downs Sack Rate.

In contrast, the Kent State defense struggles in almost every area. Overall, it’s a bottom-20 unit in the country. The secondary features the most talent and experience, but it doesn’t get much help from a defensive front that ranks 125th in Sack Rate.

Kent State’s undersized front also can’t stop the run. It ranks outside the top-100 in both Line Yards and yards per carry.

When it does have rare success on early downs, it also can’t get off the field, ranking 119th in opponent third-down conversion percentage.

Lastly, the special teams are a major liability. More on that later.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Northern Illinois Huskies

While NIU surpassed all preseason expectations with eight wins, it has been quite fortunate in a number of areas.

First of all, the Huskies went 7-2 in one-possession games, including 4-0 in games decided by one or two points. Yes, they won four games decided by one or two points.

That’s even more unbelievable when you consider how fortunate they have been on fourth downs

  • NIU fourth-down offense: 19-of-23 (82.6%) leads the nation.
  • NIU fourth-down defense: 10-of-25 (40%) ranks in the top 25.

The lack of opponent success on fourth downs is stunning against a defense that ranks in the bottom 10 in the country in almost every category:

Despite struggling immensely on early downs, NIU has been quite fortunate on the much more higher-variance late downs. That doesn’t seem sustainable given its profile and other underlying metrics.

Regression looms for the Huskies when it comes to fourth downs, late-down defense and results in close games.

From a profile standpoint, you can almost take everything I said above about Kent State and apply it to Northern Illinois. Look no further than the charts below in the matchup analysis section.

The only difference is NIU likes to play at a much more methodical pace than Kent State’s “Flash Fast” offense — but it still goes as the offense goes and just tries to hold on for dear life when on defense.

NIU has been excellent all season on offense with Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi, who gets rid of the ball as quick as any quarterback in the country. He has some uber-talented wide receivers to work with on the outside in Tyrice Richie (who could return from injury this week) and Trayvon Rudolph, who amazingly had over 300 yards receiving in the first meeting with Kent State.

The Huskies have used a number of different lead backs this year and all have had success moving the ball on the ground. That shouldn’t be an issue against a very undersized Kent State defensive front.

And just like Kent State, NIU has a bottom-20 defense that does nothing well.

Unlike Kent State, Northern Illinois has actually performed decently well on special teams this season — especially by MAC standards. That could be an area to watch if the underdog Huskies want to swing this game their way.

_PromoID=[7892]


Kent State vs. Northern Illinois Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Kent State and Northern Illinois match up statistically:

Kent State Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 6 126
Line Yards 6 128
Pass Success 74 100
Pass Blocking** 61 126
Big Play 44 90
Havoc 55 120
Finishing Drives 73 118
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northern Illinois Offense vs. Kent State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 12 104
Line Yards 19 109
Pass Success 55 118
Pass Blocking** 71 90
Big Play 53 90
Havoc 50 94
Finishing Drives 55 116
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 86 61
Coverage 73 116
Middle 8 62 107
SP+ Special Teams 106 81
Plays per Minute 3 100
Rush Rate 61.5% (20) 63.5% (11)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Kent State vs. Northern Illinois Betting Pick

I’m going back to the well with a Kent State over as I’ve done a few times over the past month. I don’t really see either defense getting many stops. In the first meeting, these two teams combined to score 99 points after a slow start (7-0 after one quarter).

Nothing suggests NIU has any path to getting stops or even forcing the Golden Flashes to take even a few minutes to score.

And after Kent State scores, expect NIU to start with excellent field position, as the Golden Flashes have one of the worst kickoff units in the country. Their kicker is simply incapable of booting the ball past the 20, as evidenced by an FBS-low six touchbacks on the season. Kent State’s opponents routinely start at the 40- or 45-yard line. That’s a recipe for more quick points against one of the worst defenses in the country. I just don’t think the market has properly captured this aspect accurately of late.

Also, keep in mind this game will be played on a fast track at Ford Field, which I think is worth about 1.5-2 points in this particular matchup.

MAC teams routinely have to play on slower surfaces and deal with poor weather on a weekly basis. That won’t be a concern on Saturday. For reference, indoor overs in conference championships have gone over by an average of 1.8 points per game over the past 15 years.

From a side perspective, I do like Kent State — especially at -3 or better in a game I project the Golden Flashes as more than a six-point favorite.

If you read my annual preseason MAC Manifesto, you may have Kent State futures to win the conference. I have some 14-1 that I’m mainly going to let go other than a small wager for my original stake on Northern Illinois +3.5 since there’s now a more likely chance of a middle with the line cross over the key number of 3.

Plus, always expect the unexpected in the MAC. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that underdogs in the MAC conference championship have gone 11-4-1 ATS (73.3%) since 2005, per Action Labs. That’s the best clip of any conference over that span.

NIU also just finds ways to make every game close — even when you least expect.

It’s also worth noting that NIU likes to go for two frequently in some bizarre situations, which might make the moneyline more intriguing if you do like Kent State here.

Pick: Over 74.5 (Play to 75)

_PromoID=[11118]

Bowl Game Predictions: Brett McMurphy’s Updated Projections Before College Football’s Conference Championship Games

bowl game predictions-college football-week 14-conference championships-brett mcmurphy

Updated Bowl Game Predictions

Updated as of Saturday, Dec. 4.

The last-minute addition of another bowl on Thursday that The Action Network first reported already has made my not-even-one-day-old bowl projections obsolete.

As of Saturday morning, here are my latest bowl projections, which now includes 42 bowls, including a yet-to-be-named second bowl in Frisco, Texas (we’ll call it the New Unnamed Texas Bowl).

The biggest winner in adding another bowl is Hawaii and head coach Todd Graham. The Rainbow Warriors (6-7) were bowl eligible with six wins but would have been left out if the Frisco Bowl spot wouldn’t have been created.

Now, Hawaii will host the Hawaii Bowl and play Memphis, sources told The Action Network. And Graham will earn a nice $10,000 bonus for making a bowl game.

The additional bowl in Frisco guarantees all 84 bowl-eligible teams will be able to play in a bowl. Before Thursday’s news, one team with a 6-6 record among Ball State, Miami (Ohio), North Texas, ODU or Wyoming would have had to stay home; now they all will go bowling.

Where? Keep reading. Here are my latest bowl projections as of Thursday night. Check back again Sunday morning for any updates and my final bowl projections based on the result of this weekend’s conference title games.

Each bowl projection includes the projected point spread for each game based on Action Network senior writer Collin Wilson’s updated college football betting power ratings.

Updated 2021 College Football Betting Power Ratings

Updated College Football Bowl Game Projections

CFP National Championship

Monday, Jan. 10 ⋅ Indianapolis, IN
Projection: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 2 Michigan
Action Spread: Georgia -12

CFP Semifinals

Capital One Orange Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Miami Gardens, FL
Projection: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State
Action Spread: Michigan -4.5

Goodyear Cotton Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Arlington, TX
Projection: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Cincinnati
Action Spread: Georgia -17

New Year’s Six Bowls

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ New Orleans, LA
Projection: Baylor vs. Alabama
Action Spread: Alabama -13.5

Rose Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Pasadena, CA
Projection: Ohio State vs. Utah
Action Spread: Ohio State -9

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Glendale, AZ
Projection: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
Action Spread: Notre Dame -6.5

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Atlanta, GA
Projection: Ole Miss vs. Pitt
Action Spread: Ole Miss -1.5

_PromoID=[9379, 7892, 4287, 6332]


Other Bowls

Texas Bowl

Tuesday, Jan. 4 ⋅ Houston, TX
Projection: Kansas State vs. LSU
Action Spread: LSU -0.5

Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Orlando, FL
Projection: Iowa vs. Kentucky
Action Spread: Kentucky -0.5

Outback Bowl

Saturday, Jan. 1 ⋅ Tampa, FL
Projection: Wisconsin vs. Arkansas
Action Spread: Wisconsin -0.5

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Tucson, AZ
Projection: Northern Illinois vs. Boise State
Action Spread: Boise State -14

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ Jacksonville, FL
Projection: Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M
Action Spread: Texas A&M -5

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Friday, Dec. 31 ⋅ El Paso, TX
Projection: Miami vs. Washington State
Action Spread: Miami -4.5

TransPerfect Music City Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Nashville, TN
Projection: Purdue vs. Tennessee
Action Spread: Tennessee -4

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Charlotte, NC
Projection: North Carolina vs. South Carolina
Action Spread: North Carolina -11.5

Las Vegas Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 30 ⋅ Las Vegas, NV
Projection: Penn State vs. Arizona State
Action Spread: Penn State -1.5

Get Your First Deposit Matched Up to $100!

Sign up and deposit up to $100

Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only

Valero Alamo Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ San Antonio, TX
Projection: Oklahoma vs. Oregon
Action Spread: Oregon -0.5

Cheez-It Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Orlando, FL
Projection: Clemson vs. Iowa State
Action Spread: Iowa State -0.5

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Bronx, NY
Projection: Virginia Tech vs. Maryland
Action Spread: Virginia Tech -5

Fenway Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 29 ⋅ Boston, MA
Projection: Boston College vs. Houston
Action Spread: Houston -8

SDCCU Holiday Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ San Diego, CA
Projection: NC State vs. UCLA
Action Spread: NC State -2.5

Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Phoenix, AZ
Projection: Minnesota vs. West Virginia
Action Spread: Minnesota -2

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Memphis, TN
Projection: Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State
Action Spread: Mississippi State -8

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Dallas, TX
Projection: Utah State vs. Kent State
Action Spread: Utah State -2

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28 ⋅ Birmingham, AL
Projection: Auburn vs. SMU
Action Spread: Auburn -8

Military Bowl

Monday, Dec. 27 ⋅ Annapolis, MD
Projection: Virginia vs. East Carolina
Action Spread: Virginia -5

Quick Lane Bowl

Monday, Dec. 27 ⋅ Detroit, MI
Projection: Wyoming vs. Western Michigan
Action Spread: Wyoming -2

Camellia Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 25 ⋅ Montgomery, AL
Projection: Georgia State vs. Ball State
Action Spread: Georgia State -9

EasyPost Hawaii Bowl

Friday, Dec. 24 ⋅ Honolulu, HI
Projection: Hawaii vs. Memphis
Action Spread: Memphis -5.5

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl

Thursday, Dec. 23 ⋅ Tampa, FL
Projection: Florida vs. UCF
Action Spread: Florida -5.5

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Wednesday, Dec. 22 ⋅ Fort Worth, TX
Projection: Louisville vs. Army
Action Spread: Louisville -5.5

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 21 ⋅ Frisco, TX
Projection: Air Force vs. Missouri
Action Spread: Air Force -6

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 21 ⋅ Boise, ID
Projection: Central Michigan vs. Fresno State
Action Spread: Fresno State -9

Myrtle Beach Bowl

Monday, Dec. 20 ⋅ Myrtle Beach, SC
Projection: Old Dominion vs. Tulsa
Action Spread: Tulsa -7.5

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ New Orleans, LA
Projection: Marshall vs. Louisiana
Action Spread: Louisiana -1.5

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Inglewood, CA
Projection: Oregon State vs. San Diego State
Action Spread: Oregon State -6

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Shreveport, LA
Projection: BYU vs. UAB
Action Spread: BYU -5.5

LendingTree Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Mobile, AL
Projection: Eastern Michigan vs. Liberty
Action Spread: Liberty -8

New Mexico Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Albuquerque, NM
Projection: Nevada vs. UTEP
Action Spread: Nevada -12

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 18 ⋅ Boca Raton, FL
Projection: Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State
Action Spread: Appalachian State -2.5

Cure Bowl

Friday, Dec. 17 ⋅ Orlando, FL
Projection: UTSA vs. Coastal Carolina
Action Spread: Coastal Carolina -4.5

Bahamas Bowl

Friday, Dec. 17 ⋅ Nassau, Bahamas
Projection: Middle Tennessee vs. Toledo
Action Spread: Toledo -12

New Unnamed Texas Bowl

TBA ⋅ Texas
Projection: North Texas vs. Miami (OH)
Action Spread: Miami (OH) -3

Teams highlighted and in bold have officially accepted bowl bids.

* The highest-rated champion from the Group of Five conferences (American, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt) will be selected to play in the Fiesta Bowl if it does not qualify for College Football Playoff.

The ultimate CFB betting cheat code

Best bets for every game

Collin Wilson’s biggest weekly edges

Profitable data-driven system picks

SEC Championship Odds and Predictions: How We’re Betting the Point Spread & Over/Under for Georgia vs. Alabama (Saturday, Dec. 4)

alabama-vs-georgia-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-sec-championship-saturday-december 4-2021

Georgia vs. Alabama Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
CBS
Georgia Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6.5
-115
49.5
-105o / -115u
-255
Alabama Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6.5
-105
49.5
-105o / -115u
+205
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

SEC Championship

No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 3 Alabama

By Kody Malstrom

We are three games away from witnessing one of the most impressive defensive season long performances of all time. Georgia came into this year with national-title aspirations, and this may be the year they finally get over the hump.

Constantly getting thwarted by Alabama, the Bulldogs now have a legit shot to knock the Tide out of the playoffs en route to the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. Alabama opened as a 6.5-point underdog, which is rare for a program known for winning.

Georgia has been the clear-cut favorite nationally all season. Backed by a consistently great defensive performance each week, the Bulldogs have been swallowing opposing offenses all season. That defense will be tested by an Alabama offense that comes in as one of the best passing units in football. Led by potential Heisman winner Bryce Young, ‘Bama will look to play spoiler to Georgia and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Alabama comes into this game 11-1, but don’t let that record fool you. It has been a roller coaster of a season for the Crimson Tide.

Coming out hot in their first game against Miami, things took a turn for the worse as they started to barely survive close ones. Florida, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn all took them to the very end. Only Texas A&M was able to seal the upset.

Alabama’s offense has looked flat at times with only the pass game being able to consistently generate any sort of production. The Tide ended the season below average in Rush Success, which is rare for that program.

The defense has been good to average, with a glaring weakness in Def. Finishing Drives. This will be a cause for concern if Georgia is able to move the ball past the 40-yard line with its playmakers in the open field.

With playoff hopes on the line for Alabama as the rare underdog, this is shaping to be an exciting SEC showdown for our mid-day viewing pleasure.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Georgia vs. Alabama Spread

Georgia -6.5

6 Picks

Alabama +6.5

6 Picks

By Darin Gardner

It’s easy to put too much stock into what we just saw in a team’s most recent outing — and for Alabama’s case, what we saw was a terrible day in the passing game against Auburn. Young completed only 49% of his passes for 6.1 yards per attempt against the Tigers. We had seen the ground game struggle from time to time, but the aerial attack struggling against an Auburn defense that ended the regular season ranked 78th in passing success rate allowed was definitely surprising.

You can put some of the blame on Young for the passing game’s awful showing against Auburn, but he wasn’t helped at all by an offensive line that allowed 19 pressures and five sacks, or from losing top receiver Jameson Williams early in the game due to a targeting penalty. The incredibly explosive Williams will be back for this contest, though. He leads the country in receptions of 50 or more yards and the SEC in both receiving yards and touchdowns.

While Alabama has what it takes to put pressure on the Georgia secondary with Williams and fellow receiver John Metchie, the offensive line is a major red flag against one of the most dominant defensive fronts in recent college football history. To date, the Tide rank 75th in pressure rate allowed and 63rd in Pro Football Focus’ run blocking grade.

It’s hard to say anything that hasn’t already been said about this Georgia defense, which leads the country in expected points added (EPA) per play, success rate and points per drive. There are studs everywhere you look on this unit, but none have been better than linebacker Nakobe Dean, who leads all linebackers with a 91.6 PFF grade with five sacks while allowing a grand total of 61 yards in coverage on 26 targets.

On the other side of the ball, it’ll be a strength vs. strength on the ground between Georgia and Alabama. The Tide enter this one ranked fourth in EPA allowed per rush, with the Dawgs ranked ninth in PFF’s rushing grade.

There haven’t been many teams better in the passing game than Georgia from a per-play perspective, but the workload has also been light for quarterback Stetson Bennett since the Bulldogs have usually been able to comfortably salt games away on the ground. Bennett’s highest single-game value was just 29 attempts vs. Tennessee, and he’s averaging just 16.6 attempts per game on the year. The way to attack Alabama this season has been through the air, though, so Bennett’s workload could definitely see an increase against a vulnerable secondary for the Tide.

Our staff is almost split down the middle on against-the-spread leans for this one, with seven favoring the Tide catching nearly a touchdown, while five prefer Georgia giving the points.

_PromoID=[11029, 10391]

Georgia vs. Alabama Over/Under

Over 49.5

6 Picks

Under 49.5

6 Picks

By Patrick Strollo

Our staff is torn on the total angle for the SEC Championship Game with an even 6-6 split. On the surface, the under seems like the no-brainer play, but I see why people would want to play the over.

The first angle that comes to mind is clearly Georgia’s elite defense and the under. That inclination makes sense given that the Bulldog’s defense has been extraordinary all season. A starting unit loaded with five-star recruits finished the season first nationally in scoring defense by giving up just 6.9 points per game. The most points Georgia gave up was 17 against Tennessee in Week 11. The last time we saw a defense of this caliber was the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide with Kirby Smart as the defensive coordinator. That team only gave up 8.2 points per game.

Alabama by no means has a slouchy defense either. While they may not be historically elite, the Tide is the 20th-ranked scoring defense, giving up 19.9 points per game. The Crimson Tide are very good in their own right, but they have not dominated SEC conference play the way Georgia has. The Tide allowed 29 points in a nail biter against Florida, 35 points in a win over Arkansas and 22 points in a four-overtime win against Auburn. For the sake of comparison, when Georgia faced the same teams, they allowed a combined 17 points.

The less intuitive angle, but what I believe is the right angle for this game, would be to play the over based both teams’ offensive potential.

Lost in the mix of the attention that the Georgia defense gets, the Bulldogs offense has been a juggernaut this season. Georgia ranks sixth in the country in scoring offense at 40.7 points per game. The Georgia backfield, led by junior Zamir White, is a force to reckon with. The backfield has combined for 2,571 yards gained, 5,4 yards per attempt and 28 touchdowns this season. Bennett has been very efficient this season, completing 65% of his passes for 1,985 yards, 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

Alabama has been its usual self on offense this season, ranking fifth nationally in scoring offense with 42.7 points per game. Young is the Heisman front runner at most sportsbooks coming into this game after completing 68.8% of his passes for 3,901 yards, 40 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Both teams finish the regular in the top six nationally in scoring offense and Alabama has been gouged on defense a variety of times this season. I have projected the total for this game at 56.7 points with the lean to the over being driven by Alabama’s offensive explosiveness, Georgia’s offensive success rate coupled with Alabama’s defensive success rate.

I recommend nothing more than a one unit bet on the total in this game given how torn the Action staff is. I have a penchant toward the over, given both teams ability to scorn and Alabama’s susceptibility to giving up large point totals this season.

Play the over at 50 or lower.

Staff Pick: Over 50

_PromoID=[11030, 10391]

NBA Injury News & Starting Lineups (December 4): R.J. Barrett Probable, Giannis Antetokounmpo Doubtful

nba injury-news projected-starting-lineups-giannis-antetokounmpo-december-4

Below are the projected starting lineups for each team playing on Saturday’s NBA slate, along with notable injury news for each squad. For real-time injury updates, check out our FantasyLabs NBA news page

NBA Injury News

New York Knicks third-year guard R.J. Barrett missed his first game of the season Thursday against the Chicago Bulls with a non-COVID illness. Those effects may be partially lingering, as he’s probable to suit up for Saturday’s home matinee against the Denver Nuggets.

The Knicks fell to the Bulls without Barrett, 119-115. Last year’s No. 4 seed in the East is just 11-11 overall out of the gates.

Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks are likely without Giannis Antetokounmpo when they host the Miami Heat in a battle of 14-9 clubs.

Antetokounmpo, who’s fifth in points per game this season (28.1), is still dealing with a calf injury. He was sidelined for Thursday’s tilt against Toronto, a game Milwaukee lost by four.

_PromoID=[299, 8275, 132, 8277, 72]

Projected Starting Lineups

Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks (1 p.m. ET)

Nuggets Projected Lineup

PG – Monte Morris
SG – Will Barton
SF – Jeff Green
PF – Aaron Gordon
C – Nikola Jokic

Injury news: Will Barton (Back) is probable; Zeke Nnaji (Ankle) is questionable; Bol Bol (COVID Protocols), Austin Rivers (COVID Protocols) and Bones Hyland (COVID Protocols) are out

Knicks Projected Lineup

PG – RJ Barrett
SG – Alec Burks
SF – Evan Fournier
PF – Julius Randle
C – Mitchell Robinson

Injury news: RJ Barrett (Illness) is probable; Nerlens Noel (Knee) and Jericho Sims (Illness) are questionable

Chicago Bulls vs. Brooklyn Nets (7:30 p.m. ET)

Bulls Projected Lineup

PG – Lonzo Ball
SG – DeMar DeRozan
SF – Troy Brown Jr.
PF – Zach LaVine
C – Nikola Vucevic

Injury news: Alex Caruso (Hamstring) is questionable; Coby White (COVID Protocols) and Javonte Green (COVID Protocols) are out

Nets Projected Lineup

PG – Patty Mills
SG – James Harden
SF – Kevin Durant
PF – LaMarcus Aldridge
C – Bruce Brown

Injury news: Nothing new

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks (8 p.m. ET)

Heat Projected Lineup

PG – Kyle Lowry
SG – Duncan Robinson
SF – PJ Tucker
PF – KZ Okpala
C – Dewayne Dedmon

Injury news: Markieff Morris (Neck) and Jimmy Butler (Glute) are out

Bucks Projected Lineup

PG – Jrue Holiday
SG – Grayson Allen
SF – Khris Middleton
PF – Thanasis Antetokounmpo
C – Bobby Portis

Injury news: George Hill (Knee) and DeMarcus Cousins (Foot) are probable; Giannis Antetokounmpo (Calf) is doubtful

San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors (8:30 p.m. ET)

Spurs Projected Lineup

PG – Dejounte Murray
SG – Derrick White
SF – Doug McDermott
PF – Keldon Johnson
C – Jakob Poeltl

Injury news: Keita Bates-Diop (Ankle) and Devin Vassell (Quad) are doubtful

Warriors Projected Lineup

PG – Stephen Curry
SG – Jordan Poole
SF – Andrew Wiggins
PF – Draymond Green
C – Kevon Looney

Injury news: Andrew Wiggins (Back) is questionable; Andre Iguodala (Knee) is out

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Dallas Mavericks (8:30 p.m. ET)

Grizzlies Projected Lineup

PG – Tyus Jones
SG – Desmond Bane
SF – Dillon Brooks
PF – Jaren Jackson Jr.
C – Steven Adams

Injury news: Dillon Brooks (Hamstring) and Brandon Clarke (Knee) are questionable; Ziaire Williams (Knee) is doubtful; Kyle Anderson (Back) and Sam Merrill (Ankle) are out

Mavericks Projected Lineup

PG – Luka Doncic
SG – Dorian Finney-Smith
SF – Tim Hardaway Jr.
PF – Maxi Kleber
C – Dwight Powell

Injury news: Maxi Kleber (Oblique) is probable; Willie Cauley-Stein (Personal) and Kristaps Porzingis (Knee) are out

Boston Celtics vs. Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET)

Celtics Projected Lineup

PG – Marcus Smart
SG – Romeo Langford
SF – Jayson Tatum
PF – Al Horford
C – Robert Williams

Injury news: Jaylen Brown (Hamstring) is out

Trail Blazers Projected Lineup

PG – Dennis Smith Jr.
SG – CJ McCollum
SF – Robert Covington
PF – Norman Powell
C – Jusuf Nurkic

Injury news: Norman Powell (Quad) is questionable; Damian Lillard (Abdominal), Anfernee Simons (Ankle) and Nassir Little (Ankle) are out

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings (10 p.m. ET)

Clippers Projected Lineup

PG – Eric Bledsoe
SG – Reggie Jackson
SF – Paul George
PF – Marcus Morris
C – Ivica Zubac

Injury news: Nothing new

Kings Projected Lineup

PG – De’Aaron Fox
SG – Tyrese Haliburton
SF – Harrison Barnes
PF – Richaun Holmes
C – Marvin Bagley

Injury news: Harrison Barnes (Foot) is doubtful; Maurice Harkless (Knee) is out


The ultimate NBA betting cheat code

Best bets for every game

Our NBA model’s biggest daily edges

Profitable data-driven system picks

Sun Belt Conference Championship: Appalachian State vs. Louisiana Odds, Picks and Predictions (Saturday, Dec. 4)

appalachian state-vs-louisiana-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-sun belt-conference-championship-saturday-december 4-2021

Appalachian State vs. Louisiana Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
3:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Appalachian State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-115
52
-110o / -110u
-130
Louisiana Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-105
52
-110o / -110u
+110
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Sun Belt Championship

Appalachian State vs. Louisiana

By Shawn Burns

Appalachian State heads to Lafayette to play Louisiana for the Sun Belt Conference Championship.The perennial conference powers have played in two of the past three conference title games, with the Mountaineers winning both of those.

Appalachian State had the home-field advantage in both games, but this time the Ragin’ Cajuns will host because of their dominant 41-13 win over the Mountaineers earlier this season. Even with that win and home-field advantage, the Ragin’ Cajuns are still slight underdogs.

The markets favor App State and some of the reason may have to do with the news that Louisiana head coach Billy Napier accepted the head coaching position at the University of Florida. He is doing double duty this week, preparing his current team for a huge game while also recruiting and building his staff in Gainesville.

The Mountaineers, meanwhile, are rolling, having won six straight, including a huge win over Coastal Carolina. The App State defense has held its last three opponents under double digits and leads the conference in total defense.

Duke transfer Chase Brice has played well under center, but the Mountaineers offense is at its peak when the running game is clicking. Cameron Peoples and Nate Noel are both talented running backs and combined for 17 rushing touchdowns during the regular season.

Napier made the right decision to stick with his team for this game, as he tries once again to claim that elusive Sun Belt Championship. The Ragin’ Cajuns have had a tremendous season, winning 11 straight after a season-opening loss at Texas.

Louisiana has the top scoring defense in the conference and a veteran leader at quarterback that is as steady as they come. Levi Lewis has the most touchdown passes in school history and leads a balanced offense that averages over 31 points per game. The rushing attack, even with the losses of Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas to the NFL, has been tough to stop, averaging 192 yards per game and almost five yards per carry.

_PromoID=[7892, 10391]


Appalachian State vs. Louisiana Spread

App State -2.5

9 Picks

Louisiana +2.5

3 Picks

By Kody Malstrom

The last time these teams played each other, App St came in as a three-point favorite and ended up losing by 28. Fast forward to this one, and the Mountaineers are, once again, a three-point favorite.

That game was a stunner, for sure, as Louisiana punched App State in the mouth at the very start and did not let up at all. The Mountaineers will look to avenge that one, coming in on a six-game winning streak thanks to their stellar defense.

Louisiana may have scored 41 on App State earlier this season, but don’t expect that to happen again. The Mountaineers have the edge over Louisiana’s offense in every category. The Cajuns were given turnovers in that first meeting, while App State made some terrible decisions that seem unlikely to be repeated.



App State will look to shut them down, ranking near top-10 in Def. Success Rate and constantly generating Havoc with one of the most Havoc minded units in football. With little to no explosiveness on Louisiana’s offense, the Cajuns will struggle to consistently find yards.

App State is also top 10 in Def. Finishing Drives, one of the best in the nation at defending past the 40-yard line. This may lead to long drives that stall and eventually flip field position for the Mountaineers.

App State’s offense has an edge in pretty much every noteworthy metric, with a major gap in explosiveness. The Mountaineers will look for large gains, which is an area Louisiana is among the worst in the nation in defending.

App State rivals Louisiana in both categories that the Cajuns rate best in, with Success Rate and Finishing Drives as the key matchups when App State is on offense. With nearly advantages in every other category in the Mountaineers’ favor, lay the points with the small favorite in a revenge spot for the Sun Belt Championship.

Staff Pick: Appalachian State -2.5

_PromoID=[11118, 10391]

Appalachian State vs. Louisiana Over/Under

Over 52

4 Picks

Under 52

8 Picks

By Patrick Strollo

This matchup features not only two of the best defenses in the Sunbelt but in the nation. Both rank in the top 14 nationally in scoring defense, with Louisiana giving up 18.5 points per game and App State 18.9.

The Mountaineers are better in terms of total defense, ranking 12th in the country while giving up 315.3 yards per game this season. Louisiana, while not elite, is only allowing 349.7 yards per game, which ranks 40th in FBS.

App State is one of the best in the nation in red-zone defense, ranking 15th by only allowing points 74.3% of the time. Louisiana ranks 37th by allowing scores on 78.1% percent of plays.

While the traditional statistics tell a pretty compelling story as to how good these defenses are, the advanced statistics only bolster the case.

App State and Louisiana rank 12th and 26th in defensive success rate. Both programs also rank in the top 20 in average starting field position. Havoc will also be key with Louisiana ranking fifth and App State 21st.

I’d be remiss if I completely glossed over the capable offenses. Both have the ability to put up points, but both offenses rank far lower than the defenses in this game.

The weather figures to be perfect for football and will be of no help to under bettors, with a high of almost 80 degrees and wind of less than 5 mph.

Napier has made a name for himself on defense, and I don’t expect him to leave Lafayette without one last turnover frenzied game. App State is going to do what they have done all season and that is play disciplined defense with a veteran lineup.

I have the total for this game projected at 49.5 points and recommend playing the under at 51.5 or lower.

Staff Pick: Under 52


The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Odds, Predictions and Picks: Bet Mountaineers to Win Sun Belt Championship on Saturday (Dec. 4)

appalachian state vs. louisiana-odds-picks-betting-sun belt championship-december 4

Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
3:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
Louisiana Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-110
52.5
-110o / -110u
+110
Appalachian State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-110
52.5
-110o / -110u
-135
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Since 2005, the Sun Belt has been won a combined seven times by Appalachian State and Louisiana.

A closer look at that number reveals that App State head coach Shawn Clark did not win in his inaugural season last year and that Billy Napier shares a co-title with Coastal Carolina after the Sun Belt Championship game was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020.

Even after further inspection, Louisiana has never won the Sun Belt outright in sharing the title in 2005, 2013 and 2020. Either Clark or Napier will claim their first-ever outright conference title on Saturday.

The Mountaineers dominated Napier and the Ragin’ Cajuns with eight consecutive victories after joining the Sun Belt. Clark has yet to beat Napier head-to-head, losing last December and again this past October.

Through this two-game losing streak over the past 12 months, Appalachian State has committed seven turnovers.

While Napier is busy building a coaching and recruiting staff during non-work hours for when he takes over at Florida, Clark is aiming for ball protections and his first-ever Sun Belt Championship to match predecessors Eli Drinkwitz and Scott Satterfield.

_PromoID=[7892, 11118, 10391]


App State Mountaineers

The Mountaineers have just two blemishes on the season record, both on the road — one in Lafayette on Oct. 12 and Week 2 against the Miami Hurricanes.

Turnovers were key in both events, as an early Chase Brice interception led to a quick score by the Hurricanes in an eventual two-point loss. The issues with Brice struck again against Louisiana, as he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

These events have been rare occurrences for a Mountaineers team that ranks 15th in Havoc Allowed. Of the 16 fumbles on the season, 11 have been lost to the opposition for a rank of 116th in fumbles lost percentage.

The Mountaineers are a balanced offense out of the 11 formations, but for the 38% of snaps run out of a two-tight end set, the Mountaineers are run-based.

This Appalachian State squad has come down in Rushing Success Rate and Line Yards with the move to Brice over Zac Thomas, but when Brice is allowed to pass, there have been productive results.

The former Clemson and Duke quarterback was a reclamation project for Appalachian State that ended successfully with 26 big-time throws to just 12 turnover-worthy plays.

The dip in production is specifically linked to pressure, as Brice’s adjusted completion percentage falls 18% with a crowded pocket.

Louisiana does not have the defensive line to cause Havoc, ranking 64th in pass rush while generating zero quarterback hurries during the Oct. 12 game.

D’Marco Jackson leads a defense that has been lights out in 2021. The Mountaineers are the top Defensive Havoc team in the nation, backed up by a rank of second in Line Yards and a top-10 mark in Defensive Finishing Drives.

Appalachian State is third in the nation in tackles for loss, a sign that it should find some success in stopping the Cajuns’ potent rush attack.

The Mountaineers have dominated opposing offenses in the red zone, allowing the ninth-best touchdown rate in the nation.

For Clark, this game is about keeping his squad from taking itself out of the game with mistakes. In the October loss to Louisiana, the Mountaineers spotted three touchdown drives with starting field position in Appalachian State territory.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

The Sun Belt Championship game was first played in 2018, with Napier winning a spot in all four seasons. The first two were losses to Appalachian State, while the pandemic shut down the title game against Coastal Carolina last season.

Louisiana is looking for the program’s first ever solo championship before Napier takes a U-Haul down Interstate 10 for the last time.

After an opening loss to Texas, the Ragin’ Cajuns have won 11 consecutive games thanks to the skills of southpaw quarterback Levi Lewis.

Much like Appalachian State, the Cajuns run a mix of 11 and 12 personnel with a heavy run tendency in the two-tight end set.

The battle against Appalachian State will be in the trench, where Louisiana has a rank of 10th in Offensive Stuff Rate. Despite beating the Mountaineers by 28 points earlier this season, the Cajuns were stuffed on 14-of-43 rushing attempts to exceed the national average.

Defensive coordinator Patrick Toney has had glitches in the 3-3-5 scheme, ranking outside the top 100 against the explosive pass and in tackling grade.

Opponents have been able to move the ball with success on the ground against a stop unit that is 108th in Line Yards.

Similar to Appalachian State, the Cajuns field one of the best defenses in the nation once an offense crosses the 40-yard line, allowing just 2.8 points per trip to opponents.

Opposite of the Mountaineers is fumble luck, with the ULL defense recovering 11-of-16 fumbles.

_PromoID=[7892]


Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Appalachian State and Louisiana match up statistically:

Appalachian State Offense vs. Louisiana Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 57 49
Line Yards 53 108
Pass Success 18 15
Pass Blocking** 67 64
Big Play 120 49
Havoc 15 56
Finishing Drives 15 11
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Louisiana Offense vs. Appalachian State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 30 8
Line Yards 43 2
Pass Success 81 29
Pass Blocking** 24 53
Big Play 49 26
Havoc 40 1
Finishing Drives 34 9
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 10 107
Coverage 27 31
Middle 8 36 72
SP+ Special Teams 15 76
Plays per Minute 82 74
Rush Rate 58.5% (37) 58.2% (38)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Louisiana vs. Appalachian State Betting Pick

One of the toughest handicaps in the nation comes against Louisiana. Napier is a gambling coach, going for it on fourth down on 33 occasions this season.

Also in the Cajuns’ corner is fumble luck, not only generating seven turnovers from Appalachian State in the last two meetings but 10 turnovers in the last three regular-season games.

Napier may carry a record of 11-1, but this Cajuns team is also 123rd in second-order win total. Regression is coming when comparing Louisiana’s post-game win expectancies from its full resume.

There are advantages for Appalachian State in this game, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Mountaineers have been deadly in passing downs with a Success Rate rank of seventh.

App State’s top-three Stuff Rate will help limit the Cajuns’ ground game, and the top Defensive Havoc rate in the nation will give Lewis issues in and out of the pocket.

There is also a gap in Special Teams SP+, as this game with a spread of three may come down to the kicking game. Louisiana is near dead last in field goal efficiency.

Our Action Network projection sets the line at Appalachian State -4.5 in this road conference championship game.

Napier is sure to roll the dice until his last chip has been spent with a direct ticket to Gainesville in his back pocket. If Brice and the Mountaineers offense can limit fumbles, Clark will win his first-ever Sun Belt Championship.

Pick: Appalachian State -3 or Better

_PromoID=[11118]

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Odds, Picks, Predictions: How 11 Experts Are Betting the Big 12 Championship

baylor-vs-oklahoma state-big 12-championship-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-saturday-december 4-2021

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
ABC
Baylor Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6.5
-110
45.5
-110o / -110u
+185
Oklahoma State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6.5
-110
45.5
-110o / -110u
-240
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Big 12 Championship

No. 8 Baylor vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State

By Mike McNamara

In the 2021 Big 12 Football Media Preseason Poll, Oklahoma State was picked to finish fourth in the league, and Baylor was picked to finish eighth. Fast forward four months later, and the Cowboys and Bears will be meeting in Jerry World to play for a conference championship.

Both teams have had fantastic seasons and have surpassed expectations from even their most devout fans. Not only is a conference championship on the line this week, but there are major CFP implications involved, particularly for Oklahoma State.

If the Cowboys win Saturday, there is a very high chance they will be one of the four teams selected by the Committee to make the playoff.

The only scenario the Pokes could be left out with a win would be Alabama upsetting Georgia, Michigan beating Iowa, Cincinnati beating Houston, and the committee deciding to keep the Bearcats ahead of the Cowboys despite playing a far inferior schedule.

Baylor would need to win and then get a lot more help, but in a season that has been filled with upsets, crazier things have certainly happened.

The Bears have continued to adapt to head coach Dave Aranda’s system, and they are winning in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

When Baylor faced the Cowboys earlier in the year in Stillwater, the Bears really struggled offensively and ended up playing from behind for most of the game. Getting off to a better start will be paramount for Baylor if it wants to win its first-ever Big 12 Championship game.

The Oklahoma State defense continues to be the backbone of this team and the driving force behind the 11 wins. The Cowboys have improved week over week throughout the season, and last week, they faced a lot of adversity in Bedlam and found a way to win the rivalry game.

The Pokes suffocated Baylor’s offense when these two teams met in early October, and you can bet defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will be looking to dial up plenty of pressure once again.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Spread

Baylor +5.5

3 Picks

Oklahoma State -5.5

8 Picks

By Mike McNamara

When breaking down this matchup, it’s easy to see that these are two football teams that really know who they are. Neither coaching staff is going to make drastic schematic changes for this game but rather stick to what’s worked and trust that formula.

Both teams have improved significantly since the 24-14 Cowboy win on Oct. 2. I put some stock into that game, but given it has been a couple of months, this isn’t your typical rematch.

When Baylor has the ball, the Cowboys should be able to get after the quarterback, regardless of who that ends up being for the Bears.

There’s hope that Gerry Bohanon could return for this one, but if he cannot go, it will be Blake Shapen once again for Baylor. The redshirt freshman has performed pretty well since being thrust into action, but this Cowboy defense will be far and away the toughest task he has had to deal with.

Knowles’ group simply does not have a weakness. Last week against Oklahoma, the Cowboys defense did not surrender a single point in the second half.

The Pokes got after Caleb Williams, and when the game was on the line, they came through twice on fourth down. This group ranks third nationally against the run and 12th against the pass, and it leads the country in getting off the field on third down.

On the other side of the ball, I think you’re going to see Mike Gundy and Kasey Dunn air it out a little bit more than they have over the course of the year.

Baylor has been pretty stout against the run, coming into this one ranked inside the top-15 in Rush Success. Against the pass, however, the Bears have struggled a bit, particularly in recent weeks. Spencer Sanders now has a healthy and improved WR corps to throw to, and he found some success downfield last week with Tay Martin.

This line opened with OK State as a 5-point favorite and has hovered right around there throughout the week. I’m backing the Cowboys to cover that number and win this game by a touchdown or more.

Both defenses will be able to have success early, but I believe Sanders and the Cowboy offense will strike with a few big plays down the field.

This Cowboy defense has been phenomenal all season, and they know they have one more task at hand to finish the job and win a conference championship. I believe Baylor will really struggle to move the ball just as it did in October, and I think Shapen or Bohanon could turn it over as well.

Give me the Pokes to cover the 5-point spread and punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff, keeping our 500-1 futures alive along the way.

Staff Pick: Oklahoma State -5

_PromoID=[11024]

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Over/Under

Over 46

4 Picks

Under 46

7 Picks

By Doug Ziefel

Points are likely to be at a premium in the Big 12 Championship game, as this matchup pits two of the nation’s best defenses against one another.

The Cowboys defense has been the backbone of their 11-win season. They have allowed only 16.4 points per game, which was good for fourth in the nation.

Though, if you think that’s impressive, the rest of the numbers are even better. The Cowboys are third in yards per game allowed and were the best unit in the country at getting off the field on third down.

But where this defense shined brightest is against the run game. The Cowboys absolutely shut down the run game this year holding their opposition to just 2.8 yards per carry. Facing the Bears, who rush nearly at a 60% rate, slowing down the run is critical to keep them off the board.

On the opposite side of the field, the Baylor defense is not too shabby itself.

The Bears defense held their opposition to just 20.6 points per game. While they are not quite in the range of the Cowboys, this Baylor unit ranks 39th in yards per game allowed and 13th in opponent third-down conversion rate.

As the key for the Oklahoma State defense is to slow the run game Baylor, stopping the run may even be more important for the Bears.

The Cowboys rush at over a 61% rate and really lean on stud running back Jaylen Warren to get the offense in rhythm. Baylor was very solid against the run on the season, holding opponents to 3.7 yards per rush, which ranks 29th amongst FBS defenses.

One thing that is great about the Big 12 is that there are no divisions, which means these two teams have history that is only from October. In that meeting, the Cowboys were victorious by a score of 24-14. Though, they were fortunate that the Bears offense was kept off the field as Abram Smith carried the ball for 9.7 yards per carry.

As for the Baylor defense, it was decently effective at containing Warren on the ground. Now, 125 yards and two scores may not sound good, but it came on 36 attempts. That means the defense really held Warren to just 3.5 yards per carry.

The first meeting saw 38 total points, and now the total for this matchup is set at 46.5. No two games are the same, but there is definite value on the under.

Staff Pick: Under 46.5

_PromoID=[6276, 10391]

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State College Football Odds & Picks: How to Bet Big 12 Championship (Dec. 4)

oklahoma state vs. baylor-odds-picks-betting-big 12 championship-saturday, december 4

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
ABC
Baylor Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6.5
-110
45.5
-110o / -110u
+195
Oklahoma State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6.5
-110
45.5
-110o / -110u
-240
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Big 12 Championship game will be a historic event from many angles.

For the first time since 1998, the conference title finale will not include Oklahoma or Texas. The last time the Sooners or Longhorns did not compete in the championship game, St. Louis served as the host city with the game taking place in the Trans World Dome.

The landscape has certainly changed, as both Oklahoma and Texas will be leaving the conference for the SEC, signaling a new era in Big 12 football.

Nothing welcomes a new era better than Oklahoma State competing in its first-ever Big 12 Conference Championship game.

The Pokes previously won the Big 12 in 2011 when no conference championship game existed, but Baylor has been to Arlington in recent history. The Bears lost the 2019 championship game to Oklahoma, representing the team’s only conference championship appearance.

Art Briles brought a co-championship without a conference title game in 2014, making this the biggest game in Big 12 history for the Bears.

These two teams met in Week 5, a 10-point victory for the Pokes in Stillwater. Baylor never held a lead in the game even with both teams having a matching number in overall yards per play.

Baylor struggled in passing downs and scoring opportunities, one of the biggest areas of focus for this championship game.

_PromoID=[11024, 6276, 10391]


Baylor Bears

After a two-win season in 2020, head coach Dave Aranda knew changes were needed on the offensive side of the ball.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was plucked from Provo after a successful run at BYU. Fast forward to the present, and Grimes is tasked with taking on Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, a fellow Broyles Award finalist.

The Baylor offense rotates between 11 and 12 formations with a heavy tendency for running the ball in a two-tight end set.

The first order of business is assessing the health of quarterback Gerry Bohanon.

The high-level stats show two touchdowns and no interceptions for Blake Shapen against Texas Tech, but he committed three turnover-worthy plays in Waco.

Knowles will prepare the Cowboys defense against an offensive set, as Gundy stated that Bohanon and Shapen run a similar scheme.

Baylor did not have a stellar offensive outing in Stillwater earlier this season, failing to post a methodical drive and achieving two first downs on just two of its 13 offensive possessions. However, the Baylor defense did force three turnovers despite losing.

The Bears’ 3-3-5 scheme that goes multiple into a 2-4-5 in passing downs continues to be a trademark for Aranda after successful seasons as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

A 30% blitz rate comes on first and second downs and rarely on third down, signifying Oklahoma State must have its best offensive day as it owns a Standard Downs Success Rate ranking of 65th.

Spencer Sanders’ worst day under center for Oklahoma State came against Baylor, as he tossed three interceptions despite being sacked just once in the game.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Oklahoma State Cowboys

The strength of the Cowboys continues to be a defense that leads the nation in three-and-outs and hard stops.

The Sooners posted just one explosive drive and one methodical drive in 15 offensive possessions against the Cowboys defense. The Pokes generated seven quarterback hurries and six sacks on quarterback Caleb Williams, elevating this defense to an elite level.

Knowles will keep a spy on the quarterback position against Baylor, as Bohanon had nine rushing attempts for just 13 yards in the Oct. 2 game.

The defensive line will once against harass a Bears offensive line that ranks 84th in Passing Downs Sack Rate.

The running game continues to be an issue for the Pokes, ranking 104th in Offensive Rushing Success Rate. Oklahoma State was stuffed on 13-of-35 rushing attempts against Oklahoma, well above the national average.

The Cowboys are bottom-15 in rush explosiveness, leaving this game up to the arm and footwork of Sanders.

The quarterback posted a Success Rate 21% higher than the national average in passing downs against the Sooners with an average yards-per-play mark of 9.7.

If the offensive line continues a top-25 rank in pass protection, Sanders will have time to hit Tay Martin or take off for scramble yards.

 

The handicap against Oklahoma is that no individual player ranked within the top 200 in coverage grading. While Baylor does not have a cornerback who ranks in the top 200, per PFF, both Christian Morgan and Jairon McVea are top-70 safeties for the Bears.

Throwing in between the hashes has not been a strong area for Sanders, completing just a single pass beyond 20 yards this season. Look for Oklahoma State to post methodical drives by avoiding Baylor’s safeties.


Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Baylor and Oklahoma State match up statistically:

Baylor Offense vs. Oklahoma State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 5 3
Line Yards 21 4
Pass Success 68 12
Pass Blocking** 3 35
Big Play 19 4
Havoc 62 3
Finishing Drives 40 8
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Oklahoma State Offense vs. Baylor Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 104 14
Line Yards 110 32
Pass Success 54 56
Pass Blocking** 24 58
Big Play 61 57
Havoc 52 15
Finishing Drives 56 30
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 83 57
Coverage 69 5
Middle 8 76 21
SP+ Special Teams 38 47
Plays per Minute 101 42
Rush Rate 60.8% (24) 60.5% (27)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Betting Pick

The potential loss of Bohanon at quarterback for the championship game is reflected in the market.

The Action Network projects Oklahoma State at -4, as anyone who wants to back the Cowboys will pay a tax for the public appetite on Oklahoma State and the potential of a backup quarterback for Baylor.

Although there is value in the number for Baylor, the Cowboys field the better defense.

The bigger question is whether or not Sanders can avoid mistakes against Aranda’s defense, as the Oklahoma State quarterback has thrown five interceptions in his past two games against Baylor.

Scoring has been on the decline for Baylor over the last half of the season, taking a loss to TCU and averaging just 25.5 points per game through November.

Because Oklahoma State has the second-best defense in the nation behind Georgia, Baylor will fall behind schedule in offensive possessions. The Bears are 116th in passing downs explosiveness with a rank of just 40th in Offensive Finishing Drives.

Without a healthy hamstring for Bohanon, scoring could be sparse for the Bears.

Pick: 1H Under 23.5 or Better · Baylor +5.5 or Better

_PromoID=[11024]

Saturday College Basketball Picks, Predictions for Clemson vs. Miami: Spread & Over/Under Landing Smart Money

clemson-vs-miami-college-basketball-odds-predictions-picks-betting-saturday

Clemson vs. Miami Odds

Clemson Odds +2.5
Miami Odds -2.5
Over/Under 135.5
Date Saturday, Dec. 4
Time 12 p.m. ET
Channel ACC Network

*Odds as of Saturday morning

When you see Clemson taking on Miami on college football championship Saturday, you might not immediately think basketball.

They will face off on the hardwood today, though it’s likely that recreational bettors will bypass Saturday’s college hoops schedule in favor of the aforementioned conference championship games, like Georgia vs. Alabama and Iowa vs. Michigan.

On the other hand, our tools and software are already tracking plenty of market-moving action hitting Clemson vs. Miami, so much so that it’s already making a significant effect on Saturday’s spread and over/under.

With this in mind, let’s detail the two positions the pros are taking:

Clemson vs. Miami Betting Predictions


Seventy-five percent of spread tickets are laying the short spread with the Hurricanes and sharps are in full agreement.

Action Labs’ Bet Signals have tracked two waves of wiseguy action landing on Miami, explaining why this number has pushed from an opener of -1 to -2.5 at PointsBet.

For the record, DraftKings Sportsbook is still sitting at Hurricanes -2 as of the time of writing, so go ahead and snag that more favorable number.

And when it comes to opinions of respected bettors, they may be even more bullish on the Clemson vs. Miami under.

This total has been blitzed from an opener of 137.5 to 134.5 at DraftKings, but just like the spread, savvy line shoppers will be rewarded by the plenty of books offering the Clemson vs. Miami under at 135.5.

PRO Report Picks: Miami -2 & Under 135.5

_PromoID=[9510]

Tennessee vs. Colorado College Basketball Odds & Picks: Favored Vols Have Edge Over Buffs

tennessee vs. colorado-odds-preview-prediction-college basketball-december 4

Tennessee vs. Colorado Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. ET
FS1
Tennessee Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-4.5
-110
139.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Colorado Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+4.5
-110
139.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Tennessee Volunteers head west to battle the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday afternoon. The No. 13 Volunteers enter this matchup at 5-1 after a 86-44 win over Presbyterian. Tennessee has won all of its games against mid-major opponents by double digits. It also has a win over North Carolina.

Colorado comes in at 6-2 and is fresh off its first dose of Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes beat Stanford 80-76 last Sunday before falling to UCLA 73-61 on Wednesday.

Tennessee has won the previous three matchups in this series. Last year, the Vols took the first end of the home-and-home 56-47 in Knoxville. For Tennessee, this will be its first non-conference road game since January of 2020. Will the Vols be up to the task in Boulder?

_PromoID=[9510]


Tennessee Has Talented Backcourt

Tennessee has been led by its backcourt this season. Five-star freshman Kennedy Chandler is averaging 14.3 points, 5.2 assists and 2.7 steals while shooting 50% from deep. Santiago Vescovi is averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Freshman Zakai Zeigler is contributing 7.5 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals off the bench.

While undersized (each is 6-foot-3 or shorter), head coach Rick Barnes has played Chandler, Vescovi and Zeigler together at times and had success. However, the Vols may be getting Josiah-Jordan James back soon. James has missed the last three games with a torn ligament in his left hand. While not a big scorer himself, James is a team leader and a long and versatile defender.

John Fulkerson and Olivier Nkamhoua anchor the interior for the Vols. Fulkerson is averaging 8.2 points and six rebounds on 61% shooting from the field. Nkahmoua is averaging 10.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and he can also stretch the floor from deep.

As a team, Tennessee is shooting nearly 38% from deep. Chandler and Justin Powell are at 50% or higher while Vescovi is the team leader in attempts. However, Tennessee has struggled defending the three, allowing its opponents to hit at a 36% rate. Overall, the Vols have been stingy on defense. Tennessee is 12th adjusted defensive efficiency and forcing 17 turnovers per game- 10.5 of them off steals.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Buffaloes Will Try To Win Inside

While Tennessee is backcourt-driven, Colorado is led by its frontcourt. Forward Jabari Walker is averaging 14.9 points and 9.5 rebounds and Evan Battey is averaging 13.5 points and 4.3 rebounds. Both are capable of knocking down shots from the perimeter, though Battey is more efficient. Guard Keeshawn Barthelemy is averaging 13 points while shooting 45.8% from deep.

However, as a team Colorado does not take many threes. It is 331st at 16.5 three point attempts per game, hitting at a 33% clip. The Buffaloes shot 30% from three in its first two conference games. Colorado prefers doing its damage from the free throw line. It draws the fifth-most fouls (21.9) in the country and attempts the sixth-most free throws (25) — hitting at a 72% clip.

Defense has not been a strong suit for the Buffaloes so far this year. They are 91st in adjusted defensive efficiency and 202nd in points allowed. Colorado has allowed 70 points in five of its first eight games despite ranking 271st in adjusted tempo. Additionally, Colorado is not a very disruptive team. It ranks 253rd in steals (5.9) and 146th in blocks (3.5).

_PromoID=[7892, 11118, 10391]

Tennessee vs. Colorado Betting Pick

While both teams enter with similar records, Colorado has been less impressive. Colorado needed overtime to beat Montana State and Duquesne, and narrowly escaped with two- and four-point wins against Brown and Stanford, respectively. All of Tennessee’s wins are by double-digits so far. While the Volunteers lost to Villanova to by 18, Colorado is not Villanova.

Colorado may be at home but Tennessee is the better team. I expect Tennessee to have no trouble scoring against Colorado. Chandler and Vescovi are playing at a high level while Fulkerson and Nkamhoua can match Walker and Battey for Colorado.

Tennessee’s defensive pressure will cause Colorado issues as well. The Buffaloes average 12.4 assists to 12.5 turnovers. Tennessee also commits just 13.7 fouls per game, 16th fewest in the country. If Tennessee maintains its discipline, it will keep Colorado from getting to the line.

I like the Vols as a short favorite and I would play it up to -6.

Pick: Tennessee -4.5 (Play to -6)

_PromoID=[9510]

Rhode Island vs. Providence College Basketball Odds & Picks: Friars On Upset Alert

rhode island vs providence-odds-picks-dec-4

Rhode Island vs. Providence Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Rhode Island Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+5.5
-110
136.5
-110o / -110u
+190
Providence Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-5.5
-110
136.5
-110o / -110u
-250
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The Rhode Island Rams and Providence Friars will renew the Ocean State Rivalry after the game was not played in 2020 due to COVID restrictions. The last time these two faced off in 2019, Rhode Island pulled off an upset win, beating the Friars 75-61. Providence’s A.J. Reeves and Nate Watson are the only two players from that game are still at these schools.

Providence enters the game at 7-1 on the season with some huge wins under its belt after beating both Wisconsin and Texas Tech. Meanwhile, the Rams are 6-2 with wins over Boston College, Harvard and Georgia State.

While both teams have looked great so far this season, this will be a huge factor in determining just how good they are. Providence leads the series all time at 74-58, while the last road win for Rhode Island came in the 2002-03 season.

_PromoID=[9510]


Rhode Island Rams

In their last game, the Rams recorded their first true road win at Harvard, holding off the Crimson to win 64-57. But at one point, Rhode Island led by as much as 21 against Harvard, letting the lead fall all the way down to three before getting back on track. Holding on to win the game was a huge sign of improvement for the Rams who lost to Florida Gulf Coast just a few weeks ago after holding a 14-point lead. 

The Rams defense has been the biggest advantage for them so far this season, currently ranking 68th per KenPom in adjusted defensive efficiency. Rhode Island also ranks fifth in the country in blocks per game, averaging 7.25 per contest, while limiting opponents to just 62.5 points per game.  Opponents have also been limited to just 35.6% shooting from the field against the Rams.

Jeremy Sheppard has been a leader for the Rams, averaging 11.5 points and 3.6 assist per game, but Makhel Mitchell isn’t far behind at 11.3 points per game and 5.3 rebounds a contest to go with it. Mitchell is one of the nation’s best shot blockers with 26 on the season. Rhode Island ranks 88th in offensive efficiency per Kenpom, but only averages 72.1 points per game. Its biggest advantage offensively has been shot selection, as the Rams rank 24th in effective field goal percentage at 56.2%.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Providence Friars

Coach Ed Cooley has an an amazing start to his 11th year leading the Friars. Providence enters the game coming off its third win against a Power Five opponent. In their last game, the Friars rallied back from being down 14 in the first half to beat Texas Tech. Their other two wins over Power Five opponents came against Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Providence’s biggest advantages this season have come on the offensive end of the floor. The Friars currently rank 47th per KenPom in adjusted efficiency, while also ranking 69th in effective field goal percentage at 53.3%. But what separates them from the rest has been their ability to get to the free throw line. The Friars have gotten to the line more than anyone else in the country and have made the shots when they needed to, averaging 73.4% as a team from the charity stripe.

They are also one of the most experienced teams in the country, ranking 11th in the country per KenPom, with an average of 2.7 years of experience on the team. But there has been one clear weakness that was exposed in their 58-40 loss to Virginia: The Friars can’t get much going if they are limited inside the paint. Providence ranks 229th in the country in three-point attempts per game and only 150th in threes made.

Providence has also won its last five home games, scoring an average of 79.6 points while giving up 66.8.


Rhode Island vs. Providence Betting Pick

There is a huge mismatch in this game that I think will be a defining factor. As previously mentioned, the Friars struggle when they can’t score inside the paint, and the Rams are one of the best defensive teams in college basketball around the basket. The Rams rank fourth in opponent two-point percentage, limiting opponents to just 38.9% shooting. And with one of the best shot blockers in the country in Makhel Mitchell, there is no doubt in my mind the Friars will struggle around the rim. 

The Friars will run into one of the best defenses they’ve faced this season, and I think it will be too much for them to overcome, which is why I’m taking the Rams at +5.5, a line that has already moved up from 5, the lowest I would take it at.

Pick: Rhode Island +5 or better

_PromoID=[9510]

Louisville vs. NC State College Basketball Odds & Picks: Back Veteran Cardinals Against Wolfpack

college basketball-odds-betting-louisville vs nc-state-saturday december 4

Louisville vs. NC State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Louisville Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-110
137.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
NC State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-110
137.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Atlantic Coastal Conference play kicks off Friday night as the Louisville Cardinals travel to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Both programs missed the NCAA Tournament last season after facing multiple COVID shutdowns. NC State and Louisville both lost major production in the offseason, though, each school retooled through the transfer portal and hopes to reassert themselves in the top class of the ACC.

Louisville is 5-2 on the season, with its losses coming in overtime to Furman and last time out against Michigan State. The Cardinals had a tougher schedule to date, with two Power 5 victories coming over Mississippi State and Maryland.

North Carolina State is 6-1 and its sole loss came to Oklahoma State. Though it’s early in the season, these conferences games can prove to be pivotal late in the season.

Whether the young talent of North Carolina State can handle Louisville’s defensive pressure could be the deciding factor over who starts conference play with a victory.

_PromoID=[9510]


Louisville Cardinals

Louisville looks to forget about last year’s disappointing season in which it went 13-7 in a season that was full of COVID issues. After losing its top two scorers in Carlik Jones and David Johnson, the Cardinals are wiping the slate clean and starting fresh.

Chris Mack is no longer running an offense that is geared around Jones’ abilities, as the Cardinals are now sharing the basketball and utilizing their depth. Louisville has eight players that are averaging between six and 11 points per game this season.

Leading the charge is Noah Locke, the transfer from Florida, who is the 3-point bomber. Locke has hit 15-of-45 of his attempts from downtown through seven games.

6-foot-11 center Malik Williams is a fifth-year senior that has been a force down low for Louisville, averaging 8.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

Mack finally gave the JUCO transfer El Ellis some playing time last game against Michigan State and he showed out. Ellis finished 8-for-12 from the floor, pouring in 22 points in 18 minutes. He should continue to see his workload increase from here on out.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

NC State Wolfpack

North Carolina State has been stuck in the middle-tier of the ACC standings throughout Kevin Keatts’ four seasons with the program. Last season, the program suffered two shutdowns due to COVID and dealt with the injury bug during the second half of the year.

However, those injuries gave opportunities to some young talent, such as Cam Hayes and Dereon Seabron. Keatts hopes the young talent can blossom this season to help lift them to the upper echelon of the ACC standings.

The program has started 6-1, with its sole loss coming to Oklahoma State. North Carolina State snuck past Colgate by three and it took four overtimes to defeat Nebraska last time out.

Seabron is one of the young guns for Keatts who has surged through seven games. After averaging 5.2 points per game in 2020, he’s now averaging 21.7 points and 11 rebounds per contest. He’s connected on 59% of his field goal attempts and has emerged as the leader of the team.

The sky is the ceiling for sophomore point guard Hayes, who is averaging 12 points and three assists per game. He’s been struggling from behind the arc, hitting just 5-of-27 attempts for a rate of 19%.

Seabron and Hayes will have their hands full against a feisty Louisville defense that ranks among the top 20 in defensive efficiency rating.


Louisville vs. NC State Betting Pick

Seabron has emerged as one of the most efficient scorers in the country, averaging 21.7 points while shooting nearly 60%. But North Carolina State has faced only one defense that ranks inside the top 100 in defensive efficiency in Oklahoma State, the sole loss for the Wolfpack.

Louisville ranks 18th in defensive efficiency and has been specifically strong at defending the 2-point shot, holding opponents to 42% (19th nationally). The defense has held its opponents to 64 points per game, with only one team scoring more than 70 (Furman in overtime).

North Carolina State’s offense is more top heavy with its top five players contributing to 87% of the scoring this season. Louisville runs nine deep and will constantly be shuffling in fresh legs with more scoring options.

I’m backing the Louisville Cardinals to open conference play with a road victory over the young NC State Wolfpack.

Pick: Louisville -1.5 (Play up to -3)

_PromoID=[4778]

Utah State vs. San Diego State Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s Bets for the Mountain West Championship

utah state-vs-san diego state-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-mountain west-conference-championship-saturday-december 4-2021

Utah State vs. San Diego State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
3 p.m. ET
FOX
Utah State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6
-105
49.5
-110o / -110u
+185
San Diego State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6
-115
49.5
-110o / -110u
-225
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Mountain West Championship

Utah State vs. San Diego State

By Patrick Strollo

No. 19 San Diego State (11-1) takes on Utah State (9-3) for the Mountain West championship game in Carson, Calif. Calling this a home game is a little bit of a misnomer, given that the “hosting” Aztecs current homefield is a trafficless two-hour bus ride from campus. Hosting this game may not have the pronounced benefit it otherwise could have.

San Diego State clinched the West Division last week by knocking off Boise State, 27-16. The Aztecs were able to overcome a 16-3 deficit by holding the Broncos scoreless through the final 38:38 of the game. Senior quarterback Jordon Brookshire stepped in to give SDSU a boost and the win.

Senior quarterback Lucas Johnson leads a run-first Aztecs offense with 1,091 passing yards this season, but you can expect to see some of Brookshire in this matchup. Greg Ball has powered the backfield with 949 yards and eight touchdowns.

Looking for another SDSU difference maker? Keep an eye on San Diego State Matt Araiza, who has been one of the best punters in FBS all season.

Utah State’s 35-10 win last weekend over New Mexico, along with a little help elsewhere, solidified the Aggies’ Mountain Division monopoly. A win last week over New Mexico gave Utah State a 6-2 record in conference play, which put them in a tie with Air Force. The Aggies advanced, having won their head-to-head matchup with the Falcons this season.

San Diego State and Utah State didn’t play during the regular season, but the Aztecs have a commanding 13-2 all-time advantage. Last year, they won on Halloween, 38-7.

Utah State junior quarterback Logan Bronner has an impressive 3,236 yards, 32 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. His favorite target is Deven Thompkins, who has 87 catches for 1,543 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

San Diego State’s bread and butter this season has been strong play defensively and on special teams, while Utah State looks to push the pace offensively with Bonner. This is an intriguing matchup with a conference championship on the line.

_PromoID=[7892, 10391]

Utah State vs. San Diego State Spread

Utah State +6

4 Picks

San Diego State -6

8 Picks

By Kyle Remillard

Utah State had one of the most impressive turnarounds in the country this season after going 1-5 in a shortened 2020 campaign. The Aggies had 50-1 odds to win the Mountain West this season with a regular-season win total of 2.5.

Blake Anderson took over as head coach and brought an onslaught of transfers with him. The group finished 9-3 this season behind an offense that averaged 32 points per game. Bonner followed Anderson from Arkansas State and led an Aggies offense that relied on its passing attack, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt.

San Diego State finished 11-1 with its sole loss coming against Fresno State. The Aztecs have thrived behind its dominant defense and the best punter in the nation in Araiza, who is averaging 51.5 yards per punt.

SDSU allowed just 17 points per game this season while playing the 105th-easiest strength of schedule, according to PFF. The Aztecs struggled against some of the other pass-heavy offenses in the Mountain West like Fresno State and Nevada, though, allowing more than 300 passing yards to both and an average of 26 points.

San Diego State should be able to move the ball on the ground against a Utah State defense that allowed 4.5 yards per carry this season. The Aztecs did allow 240 passing yards per game, though, so the Aggies should be able to find some success there with some explosive plays.

Utah State has covered five of its last six games and in four of six as an underdog this season. San Diego State covered only two of its seven games as a favorite this season and once in its last five games.

I’m backing Anderson and the Cinderella season that he’s put together at Utah State and taking the points in the Mountain West Championship.

Staff Pick: San Diego State -6


The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Utah State vs. San Diego State Over/Under

Over 50

3 Picks

Under 50

9 Picks

By Keg

Saturday will mark the first time these teams have played this season in an unlikely pairing for a conference championship game.

San Diego State shocked college football with an 11-1 season. Utah State is an even bigger surprise after the Aggies had three losses against Boise State, Wyoming and BYU but still managed to find themselves atop the Mountain division. The total currently sits at 50, and both the Aztecs and Aggies were 5-7 to the over in the regular season.

In the first year, the Aggies have excelled under Anderson, ranking second in the Mountain West behind only Fresno State in offense. The defense, though, has had some issues, allowing an average of 393 yards and 26.5 points per game. This week, the biggest concern will be stopping the run since San Diego State rushes the ball more than 60% of the time. The Aggies have allowed 4.6 yards per carry this season.

San Diego State got this fair because of a stingy defense and strong running game. Cameron Thomas is its defensive star, leading the country with 18 quarterback hits while pacing the Aztecs in tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback hurries.

The Aztecs have the edge on special teams and defense. They have held opponents to 314.3 yards per game (11th in the country) and 17.3 points per game (ninth).

Both the Aggies and Aztecs have had strong defensive years this season. While historically, the total has gone under in 12 of the last 17 games combined between the two.

Our college football staff expects that to continue this weekend, with nine of the 12 taking the under in this matchup.

Staff Pick: Under 50

_PromoID=[11118, 10391]

College Basketball Pick & Roll: McGrath’s 5 Best Bets for Saturday, Including Iowa State vs. Creighton

college basketball-pick-and-roll-5-best-bets-saturday december 4-iowa-state vs creighton

Through three weeks, The Action Network’s two-man-weave of analysts Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath are 9-3 in their Saturday best bets. This column has been the hottest thing on the site during non-conference basketball season.

Unfortunately, Calabrese is indisposed this weekend. Luckily, McGrath is not, and is making up for the lost production by doing his best Jimmer Fredette impression.

McGrath is eyeing five value-loaded bets for Saturday, with picks ranging from noon to dusk. So, start building your Saturday basketball card with his “picks” and “roll” into a profitable Saturday.

_PromoID=[9510]


Saint Joseph’s vs. Villanova

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
FS1

Villanova plays slow. Jay Wright’s offense is predicated upon ball-screens, motion and crisp passing. It’s a slow progression to find the best shot.

However, the best shot is generally a 3. Villanova is 27th nationally in 3-point rate (47.5% 3PA/FGA) and the Wildcats make those at the 13th-highest clip (40.9%).

So, while they work slow, the Wildcats still score over 80 points per game and often in bunches.

Meanwhile, the Hawks feature one of the worst perimeter defenses in college basketball. Saint Joseph’s is 341st in 3-point defense (41.7%), 321st in defensive turnover rate (15.5%) and 247th in spot-up PPP allowed (.935).

And offensively, the Hawks are the opposite of the Wildcats. They’ll get out and run, working at the 66th-highest tempo nationally. Plus their 16.4 average length of possession allowed also cracks the top 60.

So, i’m expecting plenty of shots to fall for Villanova and lots of run-outs for Saint Joseph’s. It is a noon tip-off, but I still love this game to go over.

Pick: Over 144


Marquette vs. Wisconsin

Saturday, Dec. 4
12:30 p.m. ET
FOX

This is too many points for Shaka Smart.

In his career, Smart is 41-22-1 ATS as a road underdog, good for a 65.1% hit rate. He’s also covered in eight of his last 10 road dog opportunities.

And this season, Marquette is 3-1 ATS as an underdog. So, I love Smart’s Golden Eagles catching so many points in this spot.

Wisconsin has had an unbelievable start to the season, but its last six games have been decided by an average margin of five points. Plus, the Badgers play very slow, running at the 317th-fastest tempo nationally. That gives an edge to big underdogs.

There isn’t much here from a basketball standpoint. But the number is simply too high for a matchup between two high-caliber teams.

Pick: Marquette +7

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Loyola Chicago vs. DePaul

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
FS1

In the preseason, I was low on DePaul. For a team that had to replace so many pieces from last season with a first-year head coach, I felt this season would be a rebuild.

I was wrong. DePaul is killing it. Tony Stubblefield is the transfer portal king of this college basketball season.

With five key power conference transfers, DePaul is 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. The Blue Demons are particularly dominant on the interior, ranking in the top-20 nationally in both 2-point shooting (57%) and 2-point defense (40.9%).

Loyola Chicago is a very talented basketball season, but the Ramblers are just 3-3 as a favorite this season and are playing its first true road game. Plus, the Ramblers’ style isn’t cohesive to blowouts, considering they rank 305th in tempo and will try to grind out defensive-minded victories.

With the Ramblers’ reputation, the public is going to be all over this road chalk. That makes me love the frisky Blue Demons as a home dog even more.

Pick: DePaul +5


Dartmouth vs. Florida Gulf Coast

Saturday, Dec. 4
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+

Dartmouth is so fun to watch.

The Big Green are essentially the Golden State Warriors of the Ivy League. They’re shooting over 51% of their shots from deep (ninth nationally) while making them at a 36% clip.

Dartmouth lacks size, ranking 234th in 2-point defense (which is also good for our over), but it tries to compensate by out-shooting teams on the other end.

Meanwhile, similar to Saint Joseph’s, FGCU is bad at perimeter defense (243rd in 3-point defense, 35.2%) and runs at a very fast pace (69th in tempo).

But FGCU also loves to let it fly. The Eagles take over 48% of their shots from deep (20th nationally) and make them at a 39% clip.

So, this game is going to be a 3-point barrage. I’m expecting a shootout, and will happily play the over at this relatively low number.

Pick: Over 136


Iowa State vs. Creighton

Saturday, Dec. 4
9 p.m. ET
FS1

This season, ranked teams on the road against unranked teams are 1-14 ATS.

There is no worse ranked team, from an analytics perspective, then Iowa State. The Cyclones are 80th in KenPom’s rankings and 81st in Bart Torvik’s rankings despite huge wins over Xavier and Memphis.

However, I believe Iowa State is due for regression. Opponents are shooting just 25.8% from 3 this season — like when Xavier shot 3-for-21 from deep while Iowa State shot 10-for-20 in that game.

The Cyclones remind me a bit of last year’s Northwestern team. The Wildcats were ranked after a 7-1 start to the season, including three Big Ten wins to start the year. However, Northwestern was shooting the lights out and when those stopped falling, the Wildcats dropped 13 consecutive games.

Greg McDermott is going through an entire rebuild and he’s changed his stylistic approach to his roster.

Last season, Creighton overpowered teams from beyond the arc. But this year, the frontcourt rotation of 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner and 6-foot-7 Ryan Hawkins lead a team that’s ninth in 2-point shooting (59.6%) and 40th in 2-point defense (43.7%).

I find Creighton’s interior approach more dependable than Iowa State’s perimeter approach and I am ready to follow the trends and bank on a Cyclone letdown.

Pick: Creighton -4

_PromoID=[72]

College Basketball Bottom of the Barrel Picks: Best Saturday Mid-Major Games to Bet

college basketball-bottom of the barrel-best-mid-majors-to-bet-on-saturday december 4

Bottom of the Barrel · Week 3

Low- to Mid-Major College Basketball Picks for Saturday, Dec. 4

When I had my first interview with Ryan Collinsworth — the college sports senior editor for the Action Network — one of the first things he asked me was what my favorite thing to bet on was. While it may be the best interview question I’ve ever had, it was also the easiest:

Low- to mid-major basketball.

It’s always been fascinating to me; everyone knows the blue bloods, the big names, but what about the Campbell Fighting Camels? What about the guy who averaged 25 points a game in JUCO last year?

Many people overlook the lower college basketball conferences, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed, and I’ve had success betting on these less popular programs.

So, let’s move to the “Extra/Added” page of the sportsbook oddsboard and take a look at some of the games that no one is talking about on Saturday’s Week 3 college basketball slate.

_PromoID=[9510]


Oakland vs. IUPUI

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Oakland -14.5

The Horizon League is my favorite mid-major conference, and it isn’t close. Is it because I lived off betting Northern Kentucky for two years? Maybe, but the fact remains that it’s some of the most under-appreciated basketball in the country.

Oakland will make the trip to Indianapolis on Saturday to take on IUPUI in the second biggest possible conference mismatch within this league.

The Oakland Grizzlies are 6-2 on the season and currently lead the conference, while the IUPUI Jaguars are 1-6 and second to last, ahead of only Robert Morris.

In the Grizzlies’ last game against UIC, five different players finished in double figures en route to their 81-77 win to start league play.

Leading the Grizzlies has been Jamal Cain — who was named MVP of the Gulf Coast Showcase, while also being the most recent winner of the Lou Henson National Player of the Week Award.

Cain is one of only two players in the country averaging more than 22 points and 11 rebounds a game. He’s also 19th in the country in steals per game, while being tied sixth in college basketball for double-doubles this season.

Oakland is 6-2 ATS this season, while IUPUI comes into this game at just 2-4. And while it can’t be ignored that this will be Oakland’s first game as a favorite of more than three points, the Jaguars are awful.

I don’t have a problem taking the Grizzlies here, and I would take them as high as -17.

Pick: Oakland -14.5 (Play to -17)



Miami (OH) vs. Indiana State

Saturday, Dec. 4
1 p.m. ET
ESPN3
Miami (OH) -2.5

When some people think of Miami, they think of beaches and an excellent Cuban sandwich. When I think of Miami, I think of a small town outside of Cincinnati and one of the top-50 most experienced college basketball teams.

The Miami of Ohio Redhawks will travel to Terre Haute on Saturday to take on the Indiana State Sycamores. Miami (OH) enters this matchup off of a hard-fought loss against longtime rival Cincinnati, while Indiana State has lost its last four games by an average of 18 points.

Indiana State’s three wins have come against Green Bay (in its first game of the season), a non-Division I program in Hanover and Old Dominion (77-36) in an MTE event where the Sycamores seemed unable to miss.

But with that said I think Miami (OH) is clearly the better team here, as displayed most recently against Cincinnati (they lost by one point). The Redhawks are a 2.5-point favorite, and I would take them all the way up to -3.

Pick: Miami (OH) -2.5 (Play to -3)

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets


Loyola Chicago vs. DePaul

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
FS1
DePaul +5.5

On Saturday, the Red Line Rivalry’s long-awaited return will occur after a hiatus of nearly a decade.

The Loyola Chicago Ramblers will venture across town to take on the DePaul Blue Demons. This rivalry was planned to revive last year, but was canceled due to COVID-19 related scheduling issues.

First-year head coach Tony Stubblefield may be new, but it doesn’t take a seasoned vet to know the Ramblers have been the city of Chicago’s college team for quite some time.

And what better way to make a name for yourself in the city than knocking off Sister Jean and her March Madness Cinderella team in your first meeting.

While Loyola returns four starters from last year’s tournament team that went 26-5 on the season, it doesn’t have Javon Freeman-Liberty.

Freeman-Liberty is must-see basketball and may be my favorite player overall right now. He’s currently averaging 23.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.2 steals per game — all of which rank top five in the Big East.

But playing the Ramblers will be no walk in Lincoln Park, as they’re currently 6-2 on the season, with both losses coming against top-25 teams. The Ramblers rank 20th in college basketball, per KenPom, in adjusted defensive efficiency and fifth overall in effective field goal percentage.

With that being said, I think this is the game that the rest of the country firmly plants their eyes on Freeman-Liberty, and I expect him to put on a show. Therefore, I’m taking DePaul +5.5 and making a small wager on the moneyline as well.

Picks: DePaul +5.5 | DePaul ML



Bottom-of-the-Barrel Beverage Recommendation

And finally, our beverage recommendation for the weekend.

With two Chicago-based teams restoring the Red Line Rivalry, I can’t tell you how much I’d like to bring Malört back into the spotlight. Unfortunately, I don’t think my body can handle it.

Therefore we will be taking down another one of my favorites in Woodford Reserve, a rich bourbon with some hints of citrus.

With that said, let’s have a Saturday and best of luck this weekend.

_PromoID=[245]

College Football Odds & Picks for Utah State vs. San Diego State: Why to Bet Aztecs (December 4)

san diego state vs. utah state-odds-picks-mountain west championship-betting-december 4

Utah State vs. San Diego State Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
3 p.m. ET
FOX
Utah State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6
-110
49.5
-110o / -110u
+190
San Diego State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6
-110
49.5
-110o / -110u
-250
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Utah State and San Diego State square off in the Mountain West title game, with the winner earning a spot in the Los Angeles Bowl against a Pac-12 foe.

Utah State won the Mountain Division by a narrow margin over Air Force, going 6-2 with its only losses coming to Boise State and Wyoming. Blake Anderson has done a fantastic job in his first season in Logan, as he has built the program back up to where Matt Wells had it before leaving for Texas Tech.

A win would send the Aggies to Los Angeles, and it would only be their fourth 10-win season in program history.

San Diego State earned its way into the Mountain West Championship game with a gutsy come-from-behind victory over Boise State last Friday. The Aztecs are currently sitting at 11-1, with their lone loss coming to Fresno State.

Under Brady Hoke, San Diego State has one of the best defenses in the country and will be a major problem for the Aggies’ explosive offense.

_PromoID=[7892, 11118, 10391]


Utah State Aggies

Aggies Offense

Utah State’s offense is built on explosive plays. The Aggies are the No. 1 team in the country in offensive explosiveness but sit outside the top 100 in terms of Success Rate.

The Aggies will have to find a way to move the ball through the air on Saturday because they can’t run the ball to save their life. Utah State gains only 3.6 yards per carry, ranks 106th in Rushing Success Rate and 118th in EPA/Rush.

So, going up against the best run defense in the Mountain West that’s allowing only 2.7 yards per carry will be a stiff challenge.

However, Logan Bonner has had a great season throwing the ball. The Aggies rank 10th in Passing Success Rate, and Bonner is averaging 8.6 yards per attempt with 32 touchdowns.

Bonner has an 81.8 PFF passing grade, with 28 big-time throws and 19 turnover-worthy plays.

However, two of his worst three games this season came against Boise State and Wyoming. What do those two teams have in common? They’re both inside the top 20 in terms of coverage grade.

You guessed it — San Diego State’s secondary also sits inside the top 20, ranking 19th in coverage grade. So, it’s going to be difficult for Utah State to move the ball if it can’t rip off explosive plays.

Aggies Defense

Utah State’s defense has been below average this season, allowing 5.7 yards per play, ranking 75th in Success Rate allowed, and 69th in EPA/Pass allowed.

That’s pretty bad considering its strength of schedule was 101st this season.

Most of the Aggies’ problems have come in the secondary. Utah State is allowing 7.5 yards per pass attempt, ranks 101st in Passing Success Rate allowed, and 81st in EPA/Pass allowed.

It will get a break on Saturday because San Diego State runs the ball at the 16th-highest rate in the country. With that being said, the Aztecs have been throwing the ball more recently, racking up 36 pass attempts against Boise State and 34 against Nevada.

The defensive line for Utah State has done an incredible job at stopping the run at the line of scrimmage. The Aggies are 12th in Defensive Line Yards, sixth in Stuff Rate, and ninth in Power Success Rate Allowed, which is key against a San Diego State team that runs its offense out of a lot of heavy sets.

However, Utah State’s defense is very susceptible to giving up big plays on the ground, as it ranks 100th in rushing explosiveness allowed. That’s bad news against a San Diego State that ranks 12th in rushing explosiveness.


San Diego State Aztecs

Aztecs Offense

The San Diego State offense is built on an effective rushing attack. The Aztecs run the ball on 62.4% of their plays, which, again, is the 16th-highest rate in the country.

Lucas Johnson got the start at quarterback against Boise State but was pulled in the second quarter in favor of Jordon Brookshire, who threw the ball better, going 11-of-15 for 192 yards and a touchdown.

However, the San Diego State passing attack has been very poor no matter the signal-caller. The Aztecs rank 113th in Passing Success Rate and 117th in EPA/Pass. However, they will need the passing game to be working to exploit Utah State’s defense.

The rushing attack is led by Greg Bell, who has carried the ball for 4.5 yards per carry and has the Aztecs ranked 51st in Rushing Success Rate, 12th in rushing explosiveness and 63rd in EPA/rush.

Bell has cooled off after a blistering start to the season, with only one 100-yard rushing performance in his last seven games.

The key will be whether or not the offensive line can get a push against Utah State’s stout defensive line. The Aztecs are 91st in Offensive Line Yards and 97th in Stuff Rate allowed but do have the 19th-best run-blocking grade, per PFF.

So, this game may be in the hands of Brookshire or Johnson, similar to the Boise State game last weekend.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Aztecs Defense

San Diego State has one of the best defenses in the country under Hoke. The Aztecs defense allows only 4.4 yards per play and is top-10 in both Rushing and Passing Success Rate Allowed.

San Diego State’s front seven has been incredible versus the run, as it’s second in the country in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, fifth in Defensive Line Yards, seventh in rushing explosiveness, and eighth in EPA/Rush allowed. So, it’s going to be difficult for Utah State is going to move the ball on the ground.

The secondary for San Diego State is not allowing any passing success to opposing offenses. The Aztecs are allowing only 6.1 yards per attempt, which ranks seventh in college football.

They also are ninth in EPA/Pass allowed and 10th in Passing Success Rate Allowed, so they should be able to slow down Bonner and the Aggies’ passing attack.

Aztecs Special Teams

It’s very rare that a punter or kicker deserves his own section, but Matt Araiza is more than deserving.

In case you haven’t heard, Araiza is averaging 51.1 yards per punt, has downed 40 of his 76 punts inside the 20-yard line, and gives the Aztec defense the best average starting field position in college football.


Utah State vs. San Diego State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Utah State and San Diego State match up statistically:

Utah State Offense vs. San Diego State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 118 2
Line Yards 106 5
Pass Success 10 10
Pass Blocking** 80 22
Big Play 39 9
Havoc 76 8
Finishing Drives 102 18
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

San Diego State Offense vs. Utah State Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 51 56
Line Yards 91 12
Pass Success 113 101
Pass Blocking** 23 54
Big Play 101 109
Havoc 53 18
Finishing Drives 95 38
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 50 52
Coverage 103 19
Middle 8 39 6
SP+ Special Teams 31 11
Plays per Minute 10 114
Rush Rate 53.4% (77) 62.4% (16)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Utah State vs. San Diego State Betting Pick

This is a bad matchup for Utah State’s offense, which is reliant on explosive plays. Now, it’s going up against one of the best defenses in all of college football.

If the San Diego State passing attack looks anything like it did against a top-20 Boise State secondary, it should be able to shred the Aggies secondary.

Our PRO Projections have San Diego State projected as a -7.1 favorite, so I’ll back the Aztecs at -5.

Pick: San Diego State -5

_PromoID=[7892]

Saturday College Basketball Odds, Best Bets: Our Staff’s Top 4 Picks, Including Alabama vs. Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s vs. Colorado State (Dec. 4)

college basketball-odds-picks-betting-4-best-bets-for-saturday december 4-alabama vs gonzaga

Another Saturday means another long, entertaining day of betting college basketball.

This weekend’s slate doesn’t have a Duke-Gonzaga or Villanova-UCLA, but the Zags are in action against No. 16 Alabama while other juicy matchups are littered throughout the day.

That’s where our staff comes into play. They are ready to get you set for each and every window (from noon to 8 p.m. ET) with four best bets.

_PromoID=[9510]


Saturday’s College Basketball Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
12 p.m. ET
Clemson +1.5
2 p.m. ET
Louisville -2.5
4 p.m. ET
Colorado State -3.5
8 p.m. ET
Over 160.5
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Clemson vs. Miami

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Clemson +1.5

By D.J. James

Neither Clemson, nor Miami (FL) has had a great start to the 2021-2022 campaign, but the two will face each other to start ACC competition.

Miami is coming off of a gritty victory over Penn State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, while Clemson dropped a game to Rutgers at the RAC.

Even if this game is in Coral Gables, Clemson should have a slight advantage.

Miami is awful on defense. The Hurricanes rank 136th in defensive efficiency and do not have the defensive artillery to match up with PJ Hall down low. Hall is Clemson’s best player and he will be defended by Sam Waardenburg, who is essentially a space-filler in the post for Miami.

Hall can win off of the bounce and behind the arc, as he is hitting over 40% from downtown this season. Look for the Tigers to exploit this edge.

In addition, Clemson has the guards on defense to match up with the offensive firepower of Kameron McGusty, Isaiah Wong and Charlie Moore.

The Tigers put forth Nick Honor, Al-Amir Dawes and David Collins to match up with the three of them. Considering how Honor and Collins both average at least 1.5 steals per game and Miami is keen on turning the ball over, there should be a slight advantage to Clemson in this department, too.

Clemson should be the favorite in this one.

Pick: Clemson +1.5 (Play to -1.5)



Louisville vs. NC State

Saturday, Dec. 4
2 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Louisville -2.5

By Mike McNamara

Louisville and NC State both begin their ACC campaigns Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena. These teams enter conference play in different fashions following the Big Ten/ACC Challenge earlier in the week.

Louisville was beat up pretty good by Michigan State in East Lansing. The Cardinals turned the ball over 16 times and shot 25% from the 3-point stripe. Sophomore Dre Davis was a bright spot in the loss, going for 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack will look to add another victory on their home stand after picking up an emotional four-overtime win over Nebraska on Wednesday night. Sophomore Dereon Seabron continues to turn heads this season, going for 39 and 19 against the Cornhuskers.

This line opened with the Cardinals as a two-point favorite and currently sits at -2.5. I like this spot as a good bounce back opportunity for Louisville.

The Cardinals are playing very well defensively to start the year, currently holding opponents to 42% from the field. Seabron will be the focal point of the defensive game plan, as so much of the NC State offense runs through him.

North Carolina State burnt a ton of energy in the four-overtime battle just three days prior, and the Pack are already a bit banged up as is, only going eight deep. I think you’ll see a focused Louisville team head to Raleigh looking to get off to a strong start in conference play.

I locked in the Cardinals at -2.5 and would play it up to -3 or as a money line parlay piece.

Pick: Louisville -2.5 (Play to -3)



Saint Mary’s vs. Colorado State

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET
Stadium
Colorado State -3.5

By Charlie DiSturco

To me, this is the perfect spot to buy Colorado State at home against an overvalued Saint Mary’s team.

The Gaels like to slow the pace down and play in a grinder of a game. They rank 329th in tempo and fifth in adjusted defense efficiency. They feel most comfortable when possessions are limited and the shot clock is taken down time after time.

This game plan has worked against teams like Oregon and Utah State, where SMC won outright in low-scoring games. The Gaels even took Wisconsin down to the wire, too. But this is an experienced and powerful Colorado State offense that makes plays all over the floor.

The Rams like to push the pace when they can and are efficient in doing so. They rank fifth in 3-point percentage, eighth on 2-point field goals and rarely turn the ball over. This is a well-oiled machine led by star David Roddy, who averages 21.1 points per game and takes over 30% of the team’s shots while on the floor.

Colorado State also has three other players — Isaiah Stevens, John Tonje and Dischon Thomas — that average double figures. The Rams have enough weapons to break down this Saint Mary’s defense and dictate how the pace of the game will be played.

To me, the home-court advantage will go a long way for Colorado State. The Rams are the better team from top to bottom.

Saint Mary’s only hope is limiting transition opportunities and slowing the game down significantly. But if the Rams build an early lead and continue to attack — which I expect will be the case — this has the makings of a double-digit win.

Back Colorado State in its biggest game of the season thus far. Moby Arena will be rocking, and so will the Rams’ offense.

Pick: Colorado State -3.5 (Play to -5)



Alabama vs. Gonzaga

Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Over 160.5

By Kyle Remillard

If you’ve watched a Gonzaga or Alabama game this season, you know that both like to play at a blistering pace.

Gonzaga ranks eighth and Alabama sits at 19th in terms of average offensive possession length. That’s because each team wants to get out in transition and push the tempo at any opportunity they get.

Gonzaga is averaging 87 points per game this season and has scored 80 or more in every game except for last time out against Tarleton State. The Bulldogs own the No. 2 offensive efficiency ranking in the country and are hitting 61% of their field goal attempts.

The offense has connected on an astonishing 66.6% of its 2-point attempts, thanks to the big man tandem of Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren.

Alabama’s offense is also among the top in the nation, owning the 11th-best offensive efficiency rating. The Crimson Tide are averaging 86 points per game while converting on 59.8% of their two-point attempts.

Junior guard Jaden Shackelford (18 PPG) is leading the offense, as he has hit 25-of-64 from 3-point territory.

Alabama thrives with transition buckets and will continue with that methodology, as scoring in the half court could prove to be a challenge against the trees down low for Gonzaga. It also doesn’t hurt that the Crimson Tide bomb away from downtown, as they’re averaging 29 3-point attempts per game.

The over/under is set high at 160, but this game will be a back-and-forth affair between two of the top offenses in the country. This matchup has the potential to be one of the highest scoring games of the season.

Pick: Over 160.5 (Play to 162)



College Football Betting Model Prediction for Baylor vs. Oklahoma State: The Big 12 Championship Game’s Increasing Edge

baylor-vs-oklahoma-state-betting-model-predictions-picks-big-12-championship-game

Baylor vs. OK State Odds

Baylor Odds +6.5
OK State Odds -6.5
Over/Under 46
Date Saturday, Dec. 4
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV ABC

*Odds as of Saturday morning

The real value to real-time betting tools is that they never stop aggregating and analyzing data.

For example, an edge that may not seem all that noteworthy earlier in the week can quickly become very interesting as the market moves and adjusts.

Unless you’re a bettor with the time to constantly monitor odds movement, you may miss the newly-found betting value.

On the other hand, tools and software will not.

This is exactly the case for Saturday afternoon’s Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Big 12 Championship Game.

If you checked earlier in the week, The Action Network’s Baylor vs. Oklahoma State betting model edge may not have seemed overly actionable compared to the rest of the of Saturday’s college football conference championship slate.

However, that edge has steadily increased over the past few days and now sits as one of Saturday’s top edges.

Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Betting Model Prediction


The Baylor vs. Oklahoma State over/under opened at 48.5 at PointsBet, but has dropped to 46 (click here for the latest college football odds) as Saturday morning.

Considering our college football betting model’s projection of 51, the Baylor vs. Oklahoma State over has now grown to a 7.8% edge, earning an A-minus grade from our PRO Projections feature.

Remember, betting markets are live and constantly adjusting, and the over/under movement is now ripe for buyback ahead of Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game.

PRO Projections Pick: Over 46

_PromoID=[11024, 6276, 10391]

Heat vs. Bucks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Where Value Lies With Superstars Out (December 4)

heat-vs-bucks-odds-preview-prediction-pick-nba-december-4-2021

Heat vs. Bucks Odds

Heat Odds +5.5
Bucks Odds -5.5
Over/Under 214.5
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Heat travel to Milwaukee on the second night of a back-to-back to take on the Bucks on Saturday night.

Both teams will be looking for revenge in this matchup. The Heat were swept by the Bucks in the first round of the 2021 playoffs and hope for their second win in as many meetings with the Bucks this season.

The Heat dominated the Bucks 137-95 in Miami’s opener in what was by far the biggest blowout loss of the season for Milwaukee. The Bucks lost that game with Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, Donte DiVincenzo and Brook Lopez out, but they’ll have Holiday and Portis for this one.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo listed as doubtful, let’s break down how to bet this matchup.

_PromoID=[5877, 8072, 7942, 8272, 8081]

Miami Shorthanded in Frontcourt vs. Champs

The Heat will be shorthanded on Saturday, as well, with Jimmy Butler (back) and Bam Adebayo (thumb) out, along with Markieff Morris (neck) and Victor Oladipo (quad).

If the Heat win and cover in Milwaukee, it will be because their shooters step up like they did in Friday’s upset over the Pacers. Miami’s starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson put up 26, 18 and 24 points as the three shot a combined 13-of-24 from beyond the arc.

Lowry and Robinson had been missing an unexpectedly high percentage of their 3s coming into that matchup, so it was an extremely welcome sight for Heat fans to see them get back on track.

Robinson, who is known as a shooter, had his best game of the year as he showed off his ability to drive the basketball and get to the free throw line with a season-high seven attempts from the charity stripe. Robinson had just eight free throw attempts all season before that game.

The Heat will need Robinson and Lowry to continue elevating their game on Saturday alongside Herro if the Heat hope to cover because they will be fighting an uphill battle in the frontcourt, regardless of whether Antetokounmpo plays.

With Adebayo, Morris and Butler out, the Heat’s frontcourt is thin as they will start “The Mechanic,” Dewayne Dedmon. The only other bigs available will be Omer Yurtseven (who showed some nice flashes on Friday), KZ Okpala and Udonis Haslem. The Heat played more zone on Friday night than they have all season, and this figures to be in the game plan again on Saturday.

P.J. Tucker can also guard up as well from the wing, but the Heat will have to kill time when Dedmon leaves the court on Saturday night. It will take a cohesive defensive effort to win in Milwaukee with pesky off-ball defenders like Lowry and Tucker taking charges and causing deflections against a Bucks team with a size advantage.


Can Bucks Adjust Without Giannis?

George Hill (knee) and DeMarcus Cousins (foot) are both probable. Lopez (back), DiVincenzo (ankle) and Semi Ojeleye (calf) all remain out.

Antetokounmpo’s presence would be a huge boost for the Bucks against a Heat team without Adebayo and Butler. In his most recent game on Wednesday, the Finals MVP was one assist away from a 40-point triple-double in the win over the Hornets.

If he remains out, the Bucks will need Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton to carry the load offensively. The Bucks struggled offensively in Thursday’s 97-93 loss to the Raptors despite the duo combining for 48 points.

Holiday and Middleton need to play aggressively and put pressure on the rim, especially if Antetokounmpo is out, to make up for his and Lopez’s absence inside and to help shooters like Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen generate open looks. Shots from the perimeter will be especially important if Miami does come out playing a lot of zone, which is designed to allow 3s.

Portis will get the start at center with rookie Sandro Mamoukelashvili, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Cousins as the only other bigs available. Giannis’ presence would give the Bucks a big boost in this game against a Heat team without two key interior defenders.

_PromoID=[7823, 10391, 11118]

Heat-Bucks Pick

If Antetokounmpo plays, back the Bucks to win and cover at -5.5 and play it to -7.5. Miami won’t have an answer for him without Adebayo or Butler on the back end of a back-to-back

If Antetokounmpo remains out, take the under at 214.5 with value down to 211. Both teams will have trouble generating easy looks at the rim with their starting centers (Adebayo and Lopez) out, as well as their leading scorers who consistently put pressure on the rim (Butler and Antetokounmpo).

Per Cleaning The Glass, the Heat and Bucks allow the most and third-most frequent 3-point attempts in the NBA, so the pressure will be on the shooters to push the score over the total.

While Lowry and Robinson had huge nights on Friday for the Heat, they have been struggling to shoot the ball overall this season, and I don’t know that I trust them to keep the offense afloat on the second night of a back-to-back.

Pick: Bucks -5.5 if Antetokounmpo plays (play to -7.5) | Under 214.5 if Antetokounmpo sits

The must-have app for NBA bettors

The best NBA betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Marquette vs. Wisconsin Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Over/Under (Dec. 4)

college basketball-odds-picks-betting-marquette vs wisconsin-saturday december 4

Marquette vs. Wisconsin Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
12:30 p.m. ET
FOX
Marquette Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+6
-105
138.5
-105o / -115u
+215
Wisconsin Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-6
-116
138.5
-105o / -115u
-270
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Wisconsin has proven its worth during its first stretch of the season. The Badgers have resume-building wins over Houston, Texas A&M, Saint Mary’s and Georgia Tech and only one loss — to Providence in the Gavitt Tip-Off Games.

They have earned their recognition early in the year.

Marquette has shown it might have been a bit underrated coming into the season. Shaka Smart has brought his solid defensive game plan with him to Milwaukee and the Golden Eagles have upsets over West Virginia, Ole Miss and Illinois.

The two teams come to a head in Madison for a Saturday matinee matchup. Even if Marquette runs at the third-fastest pace in all of college basketball, Wisconsin should control much of the game.

Look to the under in this one as a possible edge.

_PromoID=[9510]


Marquette Golden Eagles

Marquette loves to move the ball quickly, as it has the second-fastest possessions in the NCAA at 14.0 seconds. The Golden Eagles even put up 80 on Bob Huggins’ West Virginia Mountaineers.

They still, however, hold opponents to 17.8 seconds per possession, which ranks 267th in the NCAA. This will likely lead to extremely slow possessions on both sides of the ball, or what everyone would call a usual Wisconsin basketball game.

Marquette primarily relies on two significant offensive contributors in Justin Lewis and Darryl Morsell.

Lewis will probably have Tyler Wahl on him, who averages 1.6 blocks per game. This should limit Lewis is some capacity. He is a consistent scorer, but Wahl and Steven Crowl will be able to snag rebounds away from him. Second chances may be off the table.

Morsell will be locked down by Brad Davison. Davison is a pest and around college basketball circles is known for being that way. This will be a fun battle between two strong defensive guards who also lead the backcourts of these offenses.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin is unlike Marquette because it slows down the ball on both offense and defense. According to KenPom, the Badgers have the 316th-slowest tempo in college basketball and force opponents to utilize much of their shot clock (18.5 seconds per possession).

This will essentially negate Marquette’s advantage. Wisconsin will make it hard for the Golden Eagles to find shot opportunities, and seeing how Marquette only knocks down a collective 32.7% of its 3s, it will struggle.

Wisconsin also only hits 30.1% of its 3-pointers, as well as 46.0% of its shots inside the arc. Morsell is a better defender than Davison is, so this basically removes Davison’s chances of being a leading scorer in this game.

Kur Kuath and Lewis are the antidote for Wahl and Crowl inside, too.

Johnny Davis will be an outlier, so depending on who Smart has Morsell guard, Wisconsin may be able to exploit Marquette’s defense a bit.


Marquette vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick

Finally, Wisconsin will have a rebounding edge over Marquette, but neither team is particularly strong at crashing the glass.

There is a high likelihood this matchup results in a game like Wisconsin’s against either Houston or Saint Mary’s (i.e. slow-paced battle with defensive matches at each position).

Wisconsin may be the better team overall, but the spread is not the play here, as it looks almost perfect. Wisconsin will likely win by about eight-to-10 points, but it will appear closer than the box score at the final buzzer.

Take the under. Both teams have favorable defensive matchups, cannot hit outside shots and will take a while to find buckets.

Pick: Under 139 (Play to 136.5)

_PromoID=[245]

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Maple Leafs vs. Wild (Dec. 4)

maple leafs vs wild-odds-pick-prediction-preview-nhl-december 4-2021

Maple Leafs vs. Wild Odds

Maple Leafs Odds -115
Wild Odds -105
Over/Under 6
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will begin a short two-game road trip on Saturday when they travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild.

After getting off to a slow start, one that saw them lose five of their first seven games, the Maple Leafs have turned a corner and have found their groove. Toronto enters this matchup at 17-6-1 and finds itself in second place in the Atlantic Division behind only the Florida Panthers.

Minnesota has been having a great season, as well. The Wild come into this game atop of the Central Division with a record of 16-6-1, and they’ve won five straight entering Saturday.

We have two high-powered offenses on our hands in this game, and both have often seen high totals in many of their games. But how should we play this one on Saturday night?

_PromoID=[7705]

Leafs Elite on Both Ends

Similar to Minnesota, Toronto enters this matchup having won five straight games, and a big reason why is because of its ability to find the net.

Over the course of their five-game win streak, the Leafs are scoring an average of 5.2 goals per game and getting whatever they want on the offensive end of the ice. In their most recent matchup against Colorado, Toronto managed to put eight goals in the net in a dominant display. I think they can keep that momentum going in this one.

On the season, Toronto finds itself in the top 10 in many offensive categories in 5-on-5 situations. The Leafs are second overall in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) with 2.82, second in high-danger chances per 60 minutes (HDCF/60) with 13.42, and they have scored a total of 51 goals in 5-on-5, which is the fourth most in the NHL.

Mitch Marner was injured in practice on Friday and comes into this one as questionable, but this is clearly a very well-rounded offense that gets contributions from just about everyone.

The Leafs have also been a good unit on the defensive end, allowing just 1.92 goals per 60 minutes in 5-on-5. They do surrender 11.8 high-danger chances to opponents in 5-on-5, though, which could pose an issue against a lethal Wild scoring attack.

Luckily for them, they can negate that with whoever is in net, and on Saturday it looks like it is going to be Jack Campbell. In 5-on-5 this season, Campbell has a save percentage of .947, high-danger save percentage of .866 and he leads the league with 13 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx).


Wild Attack Powers Winning Streak

As previously mentioned, Minnesota enters this game on a five game winning streak of its own. Similarly to Toronto, it is because of one of the best attacks in the league this season.

The Wild are second overall in goals scored in 5-on-5 situations with 61, which is only two behind Washington for the league lead. This is also a squad that has managed to score at least four goals in seven of its last eight games, further proving that it can cause damage on that end of the ice.

In addition, in 5-on-5, the Wild are seventh in the NHL in xGF/60 with 2.49 and have been generating plenty of chances close to the net, averaging 11.24 high-danger chances.

However, the Wild do surrender 2.58 goals per 60 minutes and have let in a total of 46 goals in 5-on-5 this season, both of which rank in the bottom half of the NHL. They have not surrendered more than two goals in any of their last five games, but they haven’t faced an offense that is as good as Toronto’s in that span.

No starter has been named in net, but it looks like Cam Talbot is going to be getting the nod in this one after not playing in either of Minnesota’s last two games. In 5-on-5 this season, Talbot has a save percentage of .922 and -3.6 GSAx.

The must-have app for NHL bettors

The best NHL betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Wild vs. Maple Leafs Pick

One of these five-game win streaks has to come to an end here, but I look toward the total instead of an outright winner.

Both teams can flat out score the puck, with Minnesota averaging 4.8 goals per game in their last five games and Toronto at 5.2 in that span. The defenses have been playing great hockey, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the offense’s take over in this one.

I think Toronto will be able to get their fair share of goals regardless of who is in net for Minnesota, and I expect the Wild to get a few past Campbell even though he has been lights out for much of the season. Six goals is a high total, but it is one that is certainly capable of being reached with these teams on the ice.

Pick: Total over 6 (+100)

_PromoID=[7823, 10391, 11118]

Memphis vs. Ole Miss Odds & Picks: Bet the Tigers to Cover (Saturday, December 4)

memphis vs ole miss-odds-picks-dec-4

Memphis vs. Ole Miss Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Memphis Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-1.5
-110
137
-110o / -110u
-125
Ole Miss Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+1.5
-110
137
-110o / -110u
+105
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Memphis and Ole Miss, both at 5-2 on the season, will meet in a battle between rivals separated by 83 miles of interstate. Memphis makes the trip to Ole Miss, badly in need of a win after a tough loss to Georgia, but it wont come easy in a rivalry environment that is expected to be a sellout.

The last game for Memphis was quite rare when you look at the numbers. The Tigers have had six games since 2010 in which they recorded seven or more 3s, less than 11 turnovers and shot better than 80% from the stripe. And it was just the second time they’ve lost a game where they performed that well. 

What’s even more concerning is the Tigers had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country in 2021, per the 247Sports Composite. Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates were both top-10 recruits, while forward Josh Minott was a top-50 recruit.

So what’s the issue? Is Penny Hardaway struggling to find ways to coach this level of talent and get them to work as a team? If so, it could spell trouble this weekend in a big rivalry matchup. 

With the struggles the Tigers have had, Ole Miss has an outside chance at a Quad 1 win this weekend, but head coach Kermit Davis and the Rebels fully expect the Tigers to come into this game with plenty of motivation after the loss to Georgia.

Will the Tigers be able to bounce back? Or are they just unfit to operate as a team?

_PromoID=[9510]


Memphis Tigers Have Underperformed

The Tigers have had a rough start to the season, entering this game having dropped their last two games. Memphis lost to Iowa State in the NIT Tip-Off, a game in which it only scored 59 points, its lowest output of the season.

That loss was followed by another letdown on the road to Georgia, where Memphis was outscored 82-79. The Tigers looked much better against the Bulldogs in what was a back-and-forth game the entire way. 

Memphis is currently ranked 29th, per KenPom, and ranks 54th in offensive efficiency. And while it has been one of the fastest teams in the country (ranked ninth in adjusted tempo), the Tigers have still been a dominant force on defense, ranking ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Through seven games, the Tigers are averaging 78.6 points, while only surrendering 67.6. 

Bates and Duren have been the driving force for the Tigers. Bates leads the team with 12.1 points per game, but Duren isn’t far behind registering 11.1 a contest. Memphis also boasts three other starters averaging above nine points per game in DeAndre Williams, Landers Nolley II and Lester Quinones. 

One of the biggest issues for the Tigers this season has been turnovers. Two players average more than two a game and as a team, Memphis ranks 316th in the country.

But another issue the Tigers may encounter this week proved to be a bigger factor than previously expected against Georgia. Chandler Lawson and Malcolm Dandridge both remain questionable for the Ole Miss game. Neither have been a huge factor for the team, but not being able to rotate them in for starters led to issues against Georgia.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Ole Miss Rebels Bring Strong Defense

The Rebels enter this game off of a dominant 75-51 win over Rider, a game they led for nearly the entire contest. Ole Miss out-rebounded the Broncs 57-36 in the contest, and it had four players in double-figures, led by guard Jarkel Joiner, who added a game-high 18 points.

Ole Miss is 5-2 on the season and a big reason for most of those wins has been the Rebels’ defense.

Ole Miss has held its opponents to 70 points or fewer six times in seven games and 60 or fewer in each of the last four. The Rebels also rank third in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.4, while also ranking 37th, per KenPom, in defensive adjusted efficiency.

Opponents have been held to just 38.3% shooting against the Rebels, putting them at 31st in the country. 

The Rebels are averaging 74.1 points per game offensively while allowing only 61.7 points to opponents. Joiner leads the Rebels in scoring at 15.4 points. The Rebels will be Memphis’ second opponent in its last three games that ranks in the top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency.


Memphis vs. Ole Miss Betting Pick

Memphis has had a tough start to the season, but it has had it against solid teams. Meanwhile, the Rebels were down five at half to Mississippi Valley State, one of the worst teams in all of college basketball.

Yes, Memphis is coming into a hostile environment, but it is the far better team here and opened much lower than I expected it to at -1.5.

I’ll be taking the Tigers in a game I expect them to bounce back and get their season back on track.

Pick: Memphis -5 or better

_PromoID=[9510]

Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh Odds Pick, Prediction: 2021 ACC Championship Game Betting Model Edge

wake-forest-vs-pittsburgh-predictions-picks-acc-championship-game-betting-edge

Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh Odds

Wake Forest Odds +3.5
Pittsburgh Odds -3.5
Over/Under 71
Date Saturday, Dec. 4
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV ABC

*Odds as of Saturday morning

Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh —  just the ACC Championship Game we all expected and wanted to see!

Georgia vs. Alabama will clearly dominate Saturday’s college football conference championship game news cycle and betting handle, but an 8 p.m. ET kickoff with a title on the line will still draw plenty of bettors.

So what is the right way to approach Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh from a betting perspective?

At the time of writing, 69% of spread tickets are laying the points with the Panthers, but The Action Network’s college football betting model suggests there’s a smarter way to tackle the ACC Championship Game.

I’ll explain in more detail below.

Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh Betting Model Prediction


While the majority of Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh bettors are backing the favorite, our College Football PRO Projections suggest that the value is actually with the Demon Deacons.

Our model projects this game at essentially a pick’em — Wake Forest -0.3 to be exact — translating to a 9% edge when compared to the widely-available line of Demon Deacons +3.5, which offers the always-important hook off +3, the most important spread in football betting.

Finding Wake Forest +3.5 should be extremely easy as of the time of writing, so don’t settle for one of the handful of sportsbooks that have made the move to +3.

The majority of bettors like Pittsburgh, but our model suggests that taking Wake and the points is the smartest way to play Saturday night’s ACC Championship Game.

PRO Projections Pick: Wake Forest +3.5

_PromoID=[7823, 10391, 11118]

NFL Weather Forecast for Patriots-Bills: Monday Night Football Expecting Wind & Snow in Buffalo

patriots-vs-bills-nfl-weather-forecast-buffalo-snow-wind-rain-monday-night-football

Patriots vs. Bills Odds

Patriots Odds +3
Bills Odds -3
Over/Under 43
Date Monday, Dec. 6
Time 8:15 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

*Odds as of Thursday afternoon

I typically hold off on writing actionable NFL weather posts until within 48 hours of kickoff because forecasts can shift enough early in the week to make those articles stale.

As we already know from our Bet Labs software, NFL games played in double-digit winds go under the total 55.2% of the time and it’s not that unreasonable for a matchup expecting 12 mph winds on Wednesday to actually be played in 8 mph breezes on Sunday.

Therefore it’s tough to recommend actionable weather-related betting decisions until we’re much closer to kickoff for most NFL games.

But sometimes a weather forecast is so drastic that it’s worth noting as early as possible, especially if it’s moving betting odds, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing for the Patriots vs. Bills on Monday Night Football.

Let’s take an advanced look at the latest Patriots vs. Bills weather forecast, which includes wet and windy conditions for Monday Night Football.

_PromoID=[5113]

Patriots vs. Bills NFL Weather Forecast

In order to get the most accurate Patriots vs. Bills weather forecast as possible this far in advance, I turned to Rotogrinders Meteorologist Kevin Roth for his expert breakdown:

“There are plenty of ugly weather spots this week, the worst of which are in Seattle and on MNF in Buffalo (Orchard Park).

Generally my rule is to hold off on weather bets until we are 100% certain about the weather itself, but early indications in Buffalo are that we’re looking at temps below freezing, winds around 20 mph sustained and snow showers.

Even if one of those elements doesn’t pan out, there’s still going to be impactful weather.

The total has already dropped 2.5 points, and with the ugly weather I’m expecting that to drop even more.”

_PromoID=[5114]

Wolves vs. Liverpool Odds, Pick, Prediction: Can Underdog Keep it Close in Saturday EPL Clash?

premier league-betting-odds-picks-predictions-wolves-liverpool-saturday-december 4

Wolves vs. Liverpool Odds

Wolves Odds +700
Liverpool Odds -255
Draw +400
Over/Under 2.5 (-150 / +120)
Day | Time Saturday | 10 a.m. ET
How To Watch USA Network | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Liverpool looks to keep pace in the Premier League title race Saturday when it travels to Molineux Stadium to take on Wolves.

Wolverhampton got an underserving 0-0 draw in the midweek at home against Burnley, but is still sitting in eighth place and only three points outside the top four in the standings. However, Wolves haven’t played any of the top three teams, so this will be the season’s biggest test for Bruno Lage’s men.

Liverpool has been on fire in the English top flight, winning their last three matches by a combined score of 12-1 overall. The Reds have consistently dominated lesser competition, but this is a very interesting matchup considering the type of problems Wolves can present them.

_PromoID=[5113, 5114, 4778]

Wolves Could Cause Problems on Home Pitch

Wolverhampton is the type of team that can give Liverpool a lot of trouble. If you’re going to beat or challenge the global powerhouse, you first have to have a good defensive structure that won’t allow stars Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané a lot of open spaces.

Wolves checks that box, considering they’re allowing only 1.02 expected goals per 90 minutes out of Lage’s 3-4-3 formation, per understat.com.

Wolves is a very interesting team in the fact they don’t press high. Yet, once a team crosses the halfway line, they hunt in packs and stay cohesive in their pressing. That makes it very difficult for opponents to play through them, because they have the second-best pressure success rate in the league.

So, Wolves is the type of lower side that can give Liverpool some trouble.

Liverpool Maintaining Offensive Dominance

Offensively, Liverpool is putting up crazy numbers right now, averaging 2.61 NPxG per match. The Reds have created 41 big scoring chances in 14 matches. Liverpool’s front three of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diego Jota have combined for 26 goals already, boasting an xG per 90 minute-scoring stat line of more 0.6 this season.

Now, the question is whether or not  Liverpool play through Wolves’ press because if it does have one offensive weakness, it’s that it’s not very good against teams that press them, as they’re 13th in pressure success rate conceded thus far.

Now, the Reds consistently play a lot of long balls into Salah and Mane from their center backs since they’re first touch is so good. However, Wolves have been outstanding at preventing passes and dribbling into their own penalty area, as they only allow 11.85 box entries per 90 minutes, which is the eighth best in the league, per fbref.com

Finally, Wolves doesn’t create a lot of chances, as they’re 17th in shots per 90 minutes, but when they do, they’re high quality because they have the fourth-most big scoring chances this season. Liverpool has been somewhat susceptible to allowing those big scoring chances, as they’ve already conceded 13 during their campaign.


Betting Analysis & Pick

There are a lot of things to consider in this matchup, especially Wolves’ pressing that can give Liverpool trouble. However, the hosts haven’t faced one of the top-three clubs yet, so the question is if they’ll be ready for the challenge.

I only have Liverpool’s spread projected at -0.91, so I love Wolves getting +1.5 goals at -145 odds and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Wolves +1.5 (-135)

The must-have app for Soccer bettors

The best soccer betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Watford vs. Manchester City Odds, Pick, Betting Prediction: The +150 Prop to Bet on Saturday

premier-league-odds-picks-predictions-watford-vs-manchester-city-betting-preview-december-4

Watford vs. Man City Odds

Watford Odds +1400
Manchester City Odds -500
Draw +600
Over/Under 3.5 (+110 / -135)
Day | Time Saturday | 12:30 p.m. ET
How To Watch NBC | fuboTV | Peacock Premium
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Two teams on opposite ends of the Premier League table will meet on Saturday when Watford welcomes Man City to Vicarage Road.

The visitors enter the match in second place and have been dominant over their last six matches, winning five and posting a +8 goal differential.

Since Claudio Ranieri took over as manager in October, the Hornets have put together some better performances in his seven games in charge. However, the hosts still find themselves just outside of the relegation zone in 17th.

Watford has never beaten City in the EPL over 12 attempts (drawing two and losing 10), and I’m not sure even the new manager bounce can help them in this one.

_PromoID=[5113, 5114, 4778]

Watford Seeing Slow Progress

If you were to just look at the results since Ranieri became manager, there’s not much to get excited about with only six points out of a possible 21, but you have to take a deeper look at the advanced metrics to see the real improvement.

The Hornets averaged 0.871 expected goals per match, 10.286 shots/game and posted a -4.8 xG difference in their first seven league fixtures, according to fbref.com.

Since the change at manager, those numbers have improved to 1.629 xG/match, 12.857 shots per game and a -3.4 expected goals difference.

This improvement comes at a time when Watford has played Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea, some of the titans of the PL.

Summer signing Emmanuel Dennis continues to impress for the Hornets, pacing the team with six goals and five assists in the EPL.

Man City Thriving on Elite Defense

Man City has just been quietly going about its business this season and will need to keep pushing if it wants to keep the league title for another year.

There’s not much to frown about when you look at the statistics of the Cityzens, who rank second in non-penalty xG/90 minutes (2.11), shots per match (17.79) and big chances created (28).

Manager Pep Guardiola said in his press conference this week that he thought City midfielder Bernardo Silva was the best player in the league. It’s hard to argue that as Silva leads the team with five goals through 13 matches.

The true dominance has come from a Man City defense that has the best numbers in the league in multiple categories, including expected goals allowed per match (0.67), shots allowed per game (6.57) and big chances surrendered (6).

The must-have app for Soccer bettors

The best soccer betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Betting Analysis & Pick

As you would expect, DraftKings has City as a substantial favorite at -500 on the moneyline to go with a high total of 3.5 goals.

The big question you have to ask yourself is whether you think Watford is going to score or not. I think the Bees are good value to find the back of the net, which is why my best bet is on the single-game parlay of Both Teams to Score and Man City win at +150.

If you look over the last six matches, Watford’s games have had an average of 3.68 combined expected goals and 23 total goals. Meanwhile, the same bet would have cashed in four of six.

As for City, this bet would have also won in four of the last six in all competitions for the Cityzens, including the last three straight.

The dominant defense has also been more vulnerable for the reigning champions away from home, as they’ve given up a goal in six of 10 total away games.

Ranieri’s Watford has shown that its plan is to be more offensive in order to secure enough points to stay in the EPL, and I think the Bees find a goal in a loss to cash this single game parlay.

Pick: Single Game Parlay: Manchester City to Win & Both Teams To Score (+150)

_PromoID=[268, 4996]

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich Odds, Pick, Prediction: Lay it With Favorite in Der Klassiker

dortmund vs. bayern munich-odds-pick-prediction-betting-der klassiker-december 4-2021

Dortmund vs. Bayern Odds

Dortmund Odds +250
Bayern Munich Odds -110
Draw +290
Over/Under 3.5 (-120 / +100)
Day | Time Saturday | 12:30 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

One of the most historic rivalries in all of European football is renewed on Saturday as Bayern Munich visits Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker.

The Bavarian champions sit one point above Dortmund in the Bundesliga standings and if Dortmund wants any chance of ending the Bayern run of titles, it likely needs all three points at home in this game to have a chance of outlasting them over 34 league matches.

Dortmund is out of the Champions League already and has all of its focus for the rest of the season on league play, where the Black and Yellows will be bolstered by the return of star striker Erling Haaland to the lineup. Haaland missed six Bundesliga matches and three Champions League matches, a major reason Dortmund is out of that competition.

Bayern has dealt with a recent COVID-19 outbreak that sidelined manager Julian Nagelsmann for multiple matches and will leave both central midfielder Joshua Kimmich and right back Benjamin Pavard out of the side for this match.

The increase in COVID-19 across Germany has forced the government to re-impose restrictions and this game will be played in front of just 15,000 fans.

Bayern has won six in a row in this rivalry, including a 3-1 win against Dortmund in the German SuperCup at the beginning of this domestic campaign. Dortmund has given them plenty of challenges, including grabbing leads in both Bundesliga meetings last season, but it’s been a rivalry recently dominated by Bayern.

_PromoID=[5113, 5114, 4778]

Dortmund Facing Lineup Dilemma

While Kimmich and Pavard might be out for Bayern, Dortmund has dealt with various injuries issues for most of Marco Rose’s tenure. Rose came over from Gladbach in the offseason but has rarely had his best XI available and he won’t again on Saturday.

Raphael Guerriero is one of the best ball-progressing full backs in the world, but his status is uncertain for this match as of Friday morning as he works his way back from injury. Gio Reyna has returned to training but is expected to be out, while both Emre Can and Jude Bellingham are unlikely to start.

Bellingham has been single-handedly carrying the Dortmund midfield at certain points of this season and the loss of his passing ability is huge to a midfield that otherwise lacks creative and plus passing to control the play.

Dortmund also has some regression coming in the league, where they’ve run well above their xG numbers for the season. They’ve scored 33 goals from just 25.9 xGF and their expected points for the year is just 22.48 despite a 30 point return from their first 13 league games.

Dortmund have struggled to find the balance between attacking and defending, and personnel issues are certainly a part of that. They’ve been quite open at the back, where they’ve conceded the sixth most big scoring chances and have just the eighth best defense by non-penalty xG allowed.

Dortmund is still one of the more dominant teams in the league in terms of controlling the possession in dangerous areas, but when teams do get into their box, they’ve been very vulnerable defensively.

Dortmund’s had issues defensively from its fullbacks for years and it’s a major reason Bayern has dominated this rivalry of late. Expect to see a lot of Alphonso Davies, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané exploiting Dortmund on the wings and getting to the byline for cutbacks to the center of the penalty area.

Minor Wobble for Bayern Munich 

Bayern has had a bit of a wobble in recent weeks with Kimmich out for COVID-19 reasons. The performances against Augsburg and Dynamo Kiev following the last international break were not of their standard, losing 2-1 to Augsburg and sneaking a win against Kiev in the Champions League, albeit with little at stake.

The thinnest area of the Bayern squad in the central midfield, with players like Corentin Tolisso being shunted into the role in Kimmich’s absence. Tolisso has battled many injuries and been largely ineffective when on the pitch for Bayern.

The expected attacking regression in terms of finishing efficiency has come in recent weeks for the Bavarians, but the attack remains unstoppable at times. Bayern has averaged 2.85 xG per 90 this year, almost a full goal more than every other team in the Bundesliga.

The biggest improvement under Nagelsmann has come defensively, though, where Bayern has cleaned up some of the issues at the back with new center back Dayot Upamecano and an improved structure when pressing. Bayern conceded way more chances and goals than they usually do last year under Hansi Flick. Bayern’s xGA per 90 allowed has dropped from 1.21 last year to 0.82 this year.

That improvement has held up despite already playing games against Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, Leipzig and Gladbach, the other best attacks in the Bundesliga.

Despite 31 points in league play, Bayern has actually underperformed the underlying numbers and would be expected to have around 33 based on the quality of chances created and allowed.

The must-have app for Soccer bettors

The best soccer betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Betting Analysis & Pick

The table and recent form suggests that the gap between Bayern and Dortmund is actually not quite that large. Both suggest that the recent wobble from Bayern and league wins from Dortmund mean the hosts should be able to give Bayern a good game here, especially with Haaland returning to the lineup and bolstering the attack.

However, Bellingham is a huge loss in the middle of the park and takes away Dortmund’s ability to exploit the loss of Kimmich. Dortmund’s fullbacks get exploited time and time again in this rivalry and I see no way that changes.

Dortmund’s hot run of finishing and good results isn’t quite backed up by the underlying xG numbers, while Bayern’s recent wobble form has been more driven in poor finishing than anything else.

The biggest difference from this year to last is that Bayern actually improved its defense, while Dortmund remains vulnerable to big scoring chances and lapses in concentration at the back.

Take away the home fans for Dortmund and it’s hard to see how Bayern doesn’t cruise to victory, even away from home. The table is lying in how close these two sides really are.

Pick: Bayern Munich ML (-125 or better)

_PromoID=[268, 4996]

College Basketball Odds & Picks for Alabama vs. Gonzaga: Expect Fast-Paced, High-Scoring Duel in Seattle

college basketball-odds-picks-betting-alabama vs gonzaga-saturday december4

Alabama vs. Gonzaga Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Alabama Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+9.5
-120
160.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Gonzaga Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-9.5
+100
160.5
-110o / -110u
N/A
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

The 12th-ranked, per KenPom, Crimson Tide will make the journey far from home Saturday night, as they travel to Seattle to take on the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Gonzaga comes off of a much-needed four-day break after a grueling stretch that consisted of four games in eight days, two of which came against top-10 teams. One of those games was against Duke, which gave the Zags their first regular-season loss since February 2020.

After the Duke loss, the Zags seemed in complete disarray, as they won by just nine — as a 32.5-point favorite — against Tarleton State. For some context, the Texans rank 197th in the country, per KenPom.

Meanwhile, Alabama turned its loss to Iona into a wake-up call, winning its next two games and blowing out Miami by 32 points as a 9.5-point favorite.

Saturday, however, will essentially be the Tide’s first true away game. They won’t be playing in Spokane, but the Battle of Seattle is just a short four-hour drive from Gonzaga.

Will the Zags be able to get back on track against Alabama? Historically, they are 16-9 against SEC opponents and 9-4 in the Battle of Seattle, which hasn’t been played since 2015.

_PromoID=[9510]


Alabama Crimson Tide

Jaden Shackelford’s decision to return to Alabama after considering a transfer has been a saving grace for the Crimson Tide. Shackleford currently leads the team in points (18 per game), while posting a FG% of 41.9. He is also hitting 39.1% of his 3-pointers.

The Crimson Tide rank 24th, per KenPom, in tempo and 11th in offensive adjusted efficiency seven games into the season. This has been mainly due to their ability from outside the arc. The Tide average nearly 29 3-point attempts per game and are currently hitting 34.2% of their 3s.

The Alabama defense has been one of the best in the country, specifically at defending against the 3 and limiting inside passes. The Crimson Tide ranks 14th in opponent 3-point percentage, limiting them to 25.3%.

They also rank seventh in college basketball at limiting assists per field goal — something Gonzaga power forward Drew Timme’s game has been established around.

Finding ways to disrupt last year’s Karl Malone Award winner would be a great start to keeping this game close.

But that may seem easier said than done. While it has been elite at defending the perimeter, Alabama has allowed opponents to shoot better than 50% from inside the arc.

Alabama averages 85.7 points per game this season, while limiting the opposition to 69.4.

The Crimson Tide could give Gonzaga a fight if they can maintain the level of scoring they displayed against Miami. But if they continue to struggle defensively inside the arc, Chet Holmgren and Timme will have no trouble restoring their confidence.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Not many coaches in the country would even consider scheduling four top-25 teams in the first 10 games of the season. But for Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, it’s hardly an option when you play in the WCC.

Before the loss to Duke, the Zags looked dominant against both Texas and UCLA. Things seemed to have taken a turn after that, though. However, it could be that Gonzaga — like every other team — is human, and playing four games in eight days is hard no matter who you are.

Gonzaga is still one of the best teams in the country, as it is ranked No. 1, per KenPom. The Zags also post first-place rankings in adjusted offensive efficiency and 2-point shooting percentage.

The Zags have averaged 86.8 points per game, while allowing opponents to record 62.5 through eight outings.

Like the Crimson Tide, the Zags also operate at one of the fastest paces in college basketball, ranking eighth in average possession length — whereas Alabama ranks 19th.

I think two things will play a deciding factor in this game for the Zags: turnovers and rebounds.

Recently, turnovers have been a significant issue for Gonzaga, as it is averaging more than 15 in its past two games. However, in total this season, the Crimson Tide have been even worse, averaging 14.1 a game to the Bulldogs’ 13.

Both teams have also been two of the best at rebounding, ranking inside the top 10 in defensive rebounds per game. But Gonzaga has allowed opponents to average just 28.3 rebounds per game, whereas Alabama has given up 33.9 in total per game.


Alabama vs. Gonzaga Betting Pick

With how Gonzaga has struggled lately, I’m not confident enough in its ability to limit this Crimson Tide team and cover a 9.5-point spread. However, I’m not confident enough in the Crimson Tide’s interior defense against the Bulldogs either.

What I do know is that these are two of the fastest teams and two of the best shooting teams in the country. And while both defenses have been strong, Alabama defends well against the 3, where only 25% of the Zags’ point distribution exists.

In comparison, the Crimson Tide have been excelling from deep, which is one of Gonzaga’s worst metrics. The Zags rank 72nd, allowing opponents to hit at 29.3% from 3.

I expect this game to be one of the highest-scoring and fastest-pace games we see all season. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams approach 100. I’m taking the over at 160.5 and I would bet it up to 164.5

Pick: Over 160.5 (Play to 164.5)

_PromoID=[72]

Premier League Betting Odds, Picks, Preview: Our Favorite Bets, Including Crystal Palace & Everton

premier league-betting-odds-picks-predictions-projections-best bets-crystal palace-december 4-6

The Premier League title race is starting to heat up with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool holding serve in their respective midweek matches.

This weekend’s fixtures are headlined by a top-four battle between West Ham and Chelsea, along with a very interesting matchup with Bruno Lage’s Wolves hosting manager Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool.

If you’re new to our soccer coverage, I will be providing my projections for every Premier League match, along with every other game from Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1, plus Champions League and Europa League when they’re in action.

If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projections, you can check it all out here.

You can use these projections to identify betting value on current lines, plus follow me in The Action Network App to see any bets I make during the week.

_PromoID=[5113, 5114]

Premier League Projections

Best Bets

Wolves vs. Liverpool

Wolves Odds +750
Liverpool Odds -255
Draw +390
Over/Under 2.5 (-150 / +120)
Day | Time Saturday | 10 a.m. ET
How To Watch USA Network | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Wolves are the type of team that can give Liverpool a lot of trouble. If you’re going to beat or challenge Liverpool you first have to have a good defensive structure that won’t allow Mohamed Salah and Sadie Mane a lot of open spaces.

Wolves checks that box, considering they’re allowing only 1.02 expected goals per 90 minutes out of Bruno Lage’s 3-4-3 formation, per understat.com

Wolves is a very interesting team in the fact they don’t press high. Yet, once a team crosses the halfway line, they hunt in packs and are cohesive in their pressing. That makes it very difficult for opponents to play through them because they have the second-best pressure success rate in the Premier League.

If Liverpool does have one offensive weakness, it’s that they’re not very good against teams that press them, as they’re 13th in pressure success rate allowed. 

Now, the Reds consistently play a lot of long balls into Salah and Mane from their center backs since they’re first touch is so good. However, Wolves have been outstanding at preventing passes and dribbling into their own penalty area, as they only allow 11.85 box entries per 90 minutes, which is the eighth best in the league, per fbref.com

Finally, Wolves doesn’t create a lot of chances, as they’re 17th in shots per 90 minutes, but when they do, they’re high quality because they have the fourth-most big scoring chances this season. Liverpool has been somewhat susceptible to allowing those big scoring chances, as they’ve already conceded 13 during their campaign. 

I only have Liverpool’s spread projected at -0.90, so I love Wolves getting +1.5 goals at -145 odds and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Wolves +1.5 (-145)

_PromoID=[4778]

Man United vs. Crystal Palace

Man United Odds -185
Crystal Palace Odds +550
Draw +320
Over/Under 2.5 (-130 / +110)
Day | Time Sunday | 9 a.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

It was easy for former Manchester United caretaker manager Michael Carrick to set up very defensive against Chelsea, knowing they would have a large share of the possession and be the aggressors.

Well, now what are the Red Devils going to do against a Crystal Palace side that loves to sit deep and hit teams on the counter? Crystal Palace is really good defensively as well, as they’re third in NPxG allowed and second in big scoring chances conceded.

Crystal Palace has the second-most pressures this season, with a majority of them coming in their own final third of the pitch. Manchester United is allowing the sixth-highest pressure success rate and has been one of the worst EPL teams in defensive transition.

So, Crystal Palace will be able hit United on the counter since they have no shape or structure right now, which has caused them to allow 1.80 expected goals per match. 

I only have Manchester United projected at -133 odds, so I’m finding plenty of value on Crystal Palace getting a full goal at -110 odds at DraftKings and will make it my top selection.

Pick: Crystal Palace +1 (-110)

_PromoID=[268]

Everton vs. Arsenal

Everton Odds +240
Arsenal Odds +110
Draw +260
Over/Under 2.5 (+100 / -120)
Day | Time Monday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

I know Everton has a ton of injury concerns, plus they’re in the worst form of any team in the English top flight, but this line is a little crazy. Arsenal is not deserving of being +115 favorites on the road against an Everton side that only has a -2.32 xGDiff on the season.

Arsenal isn’t going to be able to exploit Everton like Liverpool was able to do so because they don’t press at all. Arsenal is dead last in PPDA and second to last in total pressures. Also, the Gunners have been horrible on the defensive side, even though a lot of the issues came against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool by allowing 1.69 NPxG per match. 

Offensively, things haven’t been that bad for Everton minus star Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The Toffees are 10th in NPxG, fifth in box entires and — most importantly — second in crosses completed into the penalty area, while Arsenal is yielding the third-most crosses into the box, per fbref.com

Everton’s defensive troubles have mainly come because they’re allowing way too many big scoring chances, ranking 19th in the league. Offensively, Arsenal is only 11th in big scoring chances created. 

I have this game projected closer to a Pick’em, so I like the Toffees getting +0.5 at -125 odds on DraftKings in this matchup.

Pick: Everton +0.5 (-125)

_PromoID=[4996]

Saturday European Soccer Odds, Picks, Preview: Our Favorite Bets, Including Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad

european soccer-betting-odds-picks-predictions-real madrid-real sociedad-saturday-december 4

We have another busy card on the European soccer landscape this weekend, featuring several high-profile matches on the docket. And that means The Action Network crew has you covered with more best bets from the slate.

Handicappers Jeremy Pond, Anthony Dabbundo and Brett Pund deliver their top picks on the card, with their favorite selections coming from intriguing showdowns pitting Newcastle United vs. Burnley, Napoli vs. Atalanta and Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad.

Check out below how they’re playing these matchups and what kind of value they’ve found ahead of these important fixtures.

_PromoID=[5113, 5114, 4778]

Newcastle vs. Burnley

Newcastle Odds +125
Burnley Odds +210
Draw +240
Over/Under 2.5 (-110/ -125)
Time 10 a.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | fuboTV
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here

Jeremy Pond: Welcome to a clash from the Premier League cellar.

Yes, two of the worst clubs in the English top flight will be squaring off when Newcastle United hosts Burnley at St. James’ Park.

The Magpies are winless through 14 fixtures and sit in last place with seven points. As for the Clarets, they haven’t been much better. They’ve only mustered 10 points, which puts them even with lowly Norwich City. However, Burnley holds the tiebreaker to park it at 18th in the standings.

Both outfits have been downright terrible defensively, giving up a combined 50 goals thus far. To really put how poorly they’ve been into perspective, Chelsea and Manchester City — the top EPL sides — have only conceded 14 goals combined in one more match.

Needless to say, Newcastle and Burnley are in dire need of all three points in this spot. And because of that, I think we’re going to see both on the go from the start, with the hope of putting the other in even more relegation peril.

So, for that reason, I’m backing both teams to score at -135 odds via BetMGM and will make it my top selection. Throw in the fact my colleague, BJ Cunningham, has Newcastle forecasted at 1.45 expected goals and Burnley pegged for 1.30 xG, and I like my chances of hitting this wager at a nice price.

Pond’s Pick: Both Teams To Score — Yes (-135)

Napoli vs. Atalanta

Napoli Odds +145
Atalanta Odds +185
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (-155 / +130)
Time 2:45 p.m. ET
How To Watch Paramount+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Anthony Dabbundo: Napoli dropped points midweek against Sassuolo after blowing a 2-0 lead and nearly losing in stoppage time before Video Assistant Referee overturned the host’s potential winning goal. The league leaders sit on 36 points thus far, but their xG and expected points suggest they’ve been quite fortunate at both ends of the pitch thus far.

Napoli has just 30.4 xPoints, per Understat, and is finishing chances at an unsustainable 25% over expected and its defense has run well ahead of its xG allowed prior to Wednesday’s fixture.

Atalanta might not be as dominant of an attack as year’s past, but La Dea have the second-best xG numbers in the Italian top flight behind only Inter Milan. The attack has trended up considerably in the last few weeks as they’ve begun to dominate weaker sides like typical Atalanta teams of the past have done.

Napoli is also dealing with the loss of Victor Osimhen in attack, as the team is back to starting Dries Mertens as its lone striker. They’ve produced just 2.0 xG in the first two matches since his departure to injury and the shots are down considerably.

Even though it is away from home, this game is a tossup game with Napoli regression coming. That said, I’ll take Atalanta on the Draw No Bet line at anything plus money.

Dabbundo’s Pick: Atalanta — Draw No Bet (+110)

The must-have app for Soccer bettors

The best soccer betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad

Real Madrid Odds +125
Real Sociedad Odds +230
Draw +245
Over/Under 2.5 (-120 / -105)
Time 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Brett Pund: Real Madrid has been one of the highest-scoring teams in all of Europe. However, I’m not expecting that to continue against Real Sociedad.

The White and Blues rank second in La Liga in xG allowed per 90 minutes (0.87) and shots allowed per match (9.2), according to fbref.com, while being tied with Athletic Club and Sevilla for fewest goals surrendered (11) as well.

Meanwhile, the total under 2.5 goals has cashed in 12 of their 15 league games as well.

You also have to look at how Real Madrid has done against teams with the better defenses in the Spanish top flight.

Against the top sides on its schedule in Valencia, Barcelona, Osasuna, Sevilla and Athletic Club, Madrid has averaged 1.2 xG, which is well below the season average of 1.73 overall. Even the combined xG average in those fixtures (2.36) was much lower than the 2.97 for the season average.

There could also be some rotation for Los Blancos with this being the third consecutive difficult match this week before the vital game against Inter Milan in next week’s Champions League showdown.

All of this adds up to a great opportunity to take a rare under in a Real Madrid match.

Pund’s Pick: Total Under 2.5 Goals (-105)

_PromoID=[268, 4996]

West Ham vs. Chelsea Premier League Odds & Picks: Back Hammers to Get Result at London Stadium

West Ham vs. Chelsea Odds

West Ham Odds +370
Chelsea Odds -120
Draw +255
Over/Under 2.5 (+100 / -125)
Day | Time Saturday | 7:30 a.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN | fuboTV
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Chelsea will travel just south of its home to take on West Ham in an important all-London battle.

The Hammers have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the Premier League thus far, and their success has given them a legitimate chance to contend for the vital fourth position in the league.

The Blues are atop the PL table, a point ahead of Man City and two points ahead of Liverpool, but this game presents a challenge for the league leaders.

Just a few weeks ago, Liverpool stumbled at London Stadium in a match that featured everything good about this newly energetic West Ham side. The Hammers didn’t necessarily outplay Liverpool (they lost the xG battle), but it felt like a real quality performance.

Can West Ham pull off another upset at its home ground?

_PromoID=[5113, 5114, 4778]

West Ham Dealing With Difficult Reality

When you qualify to play in a European competition, the money that comes with it is immense. That’s why the pressure to maintain a standing as a consistent Champions League or even Europa League qualifier is major.

However, it’s not easy to do that, and that’s partly because of the difficulties that arise when playing in a European competition. An added game in a number of weeks can create additional fixture congestion and fitness problems in an English season that has enough of it without extra games.

Playing in the Europa League this year, West Ham is battling through that element. Last week, a contest in Austria with Rapid Wien was played just three days prior to a match with Man City. On Thursday, West Ham will host Dinamo Zagreb.

Fortunately for the Hammers, they’ve clinched the top spot in their group, so even more rotation will likely be used for that matchup. Nonetheless, with the December fixture congestion they’ll have to deal with, we’ve already seen some impact in form.

West Ham has taken just one point in its last three Premier League outings, and this challenge will be as difficult as any home match can come. The Hammers aren’t a particularly dominant home side, ranking seventh in home xG (1.65/game) and eighth in home xGA (1.3/game), and Chelsea has nearly identical away numbers (more on that later).

The team will have to display another impressive performance of cohesion and grit to find a result.

Chelsea Finding Results Without Thriving

Despite leading the Premier League, Chelsea hasn’t been the best team in the PL, and recent performances have shown that.

While a ton of credit has to be given to Thomas Tuchel, Edouard Mendy and the rest of Chelsea’s team for displaying incredibly toughness and an impressive will to win, it feels like time is ticking on the Blues.

That isn’t to say that they can’t compete for the title, but performances are going to have to improve. At the moment, Chelsea is third in the league in xG (1.85/game), nearly 0.5 off the pace of Liverpool and City. The same can be said on the defensive end (1.15 xGA/game), where Chelsea is third.

On the road, Chelsea’s numbers stack up almost identically with West Ham’s home metrics. The Blues produce the exact same xG while allowing just .09 xGA more per game.

Chelsea could also be dealing with a host of absences on Saturday, as N’Golo Kante, Reece James, Trevoh Chalobah could all miss out. Ben Chillwell will also remain sidelined due to his ACL injury.

The must-have app for Soccer bettors

The best soccer betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Betting Analysis & Pick

On paper, this is a match that projects to have razor thin margins. Of course, sports aren’t played on paper and that’s why Chelsea has managed to grind its way to this point in the season.

There isn’t much that separates the two teams when Chelsea is playing away from home, and some crucial injuries encourage me to give the edge to West Ham, who has shown its capability of stepping up to generate a big result.

I believe that the Hammers have a real shot at exiting with all three points, but Mendy may decide that he won’t let that happen or Chelsea may just find an extreme bit of luck or a great performance, but the value lies with the home side.

Back West Ham to regroup in this matchup.

Pick: West Ham +0.5 (+110)

_PromoID=[268, 4996]

College Football Odds & Picks for USC vs. Cal: Total in Play in Final Game of Regular Season

usc vs. cal-odds-preview-prediction-college football-december 4

USC vs. Cal Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
11 p.m. ET
FS1
USC Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+4.5
-110
57.5
-110o / -110u
+160
Cal Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-4.5
-110
57.5
-110o / -110u
-190
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The USC Trojans head to Berkeley to face the California Golden Bears in the final Power Five college football game before bowl season and, sadly, the final edition of #Pac12AfterDark.

This game was originally scheduled to take place on Nov. 13, but a COVID-19 outbreak in the Cal program postponed the game until this week. Both USC and Cal enter at 4-7 on the season and 3-5 in conference play, so this is each team’s final game of the season as neither will reach bowl eligibility with a win.

The Trojans have lost three straight games but showed some fight in last Saturday’s 35-31 home loss against BYU as they surprisingly out-rushed the Cougars, 210-189.

USC made headlines as it hired Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley to be its next coach, so the USC players will be auditioning for starting time next season with their play on Saturday at Cal.

The Golden Bears followed up their dominant Big Game win over Stanford with a disappointing 42-14 loss at the Rose Bowl to UCLA last week.

While the Bears are also eliminated from the postseason, they will still be celebrating their senior night on Saturday for many players, including senior quarterback Chase Garbers (who has a choice whether to return for another season or not).

_PromoID=[7892, 11118, 10391]


USC Trojans

When USC Has the Ball

The USC offense under offensive coordinator Graham Harrell has been considered an Air Raid attack, but last week, they flipped the switch completely and went run-heavy.

The Trojans ran the ball more times (44) than they passed (36 times) for just the third time this season while setting a season-high for rushing attempts.

Running back Vavae Malepeai led the Trojans on the ground while true freshman Jaxson Dart got the start at quarterback.

While the Trojans remain without Drake London — who I believe was the best receiver in the country this season — due to injury, true freshman tight end Lake McRee stepped up to lead the Trojans with four receptions and 63 yards last week.

McRee and Dart clearly have established some chemistry as they connected over the middle for some tough conversions in the second half. They will face a challenge against the Cal defense that ranks 31st in PFF coverage grade and has relatively average advanced stats against the pass.

USC should rely more heavily on the ground game again this week as the Cal defense has struggled to stop the run all season. The Bears rank just 94th in Rush Success Rate Allowed and 100th in Line Yards.

The Trojans, who rank 69th in Rush Success Rate and 42nd in Line Yards, should generate a push up front again this week after establishing the run against a physical BYU front last week.

Dart, who rushed four times for 28 yards last week, will also have opportunities to pick up cheap yards on the ground with his legs against a Cal defense that has struggled to corral running quarterbacks. UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson broke free for a season-high 102 rushing yards last week against this same Cal defense.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

California Golden Bears

When Cal Has the Ball

If Cal wins and covers against USC, it will be because the Golden Bears finish drives in USC territory with touchdowns.

The Cal offense should have success running and passing the ball between the 20-yard lines, but they need to improve on Finishing Drives to win on Saturday night against a USC team that should have advantages with its offense over the Cal defense.

Cal should move the ball consistently, starting with its running game. The Bears lead the country in Line Yards and rank 34th in Rushing Success Rate, and they have the edge on the ground against the Trojans’ defense that ranks 78th in Line Yards and 89th in Rushing Success Rate.

The USC defense has struggled so far this season, and the only advanced statistic where it ranks as average is in Pass Rush — a still-mediocre 64th nationally.

The Trojans have allowed teams to consistently move the ball through the air as they rank a horrific 126th in Passing Success Rate Allowed and have allowed too many chunk yardage plays as they rank 114th in Big Plays allowed.

Cal’s passing offense led by Garbers is by no means elite, but the Golden Bears should have success against a USC defense that lacks playmakers and ranks 109th in Havoc created, 113th in PFF coverage grade, and 125th in PFF tackling. Cal’s offense is 60th in pass blocking and 92nd in Passing Success Rate.

The Bears rank just 83rd nationally in Finishing Drives while the Trojans’ defense ranks 125th in Finishing Drives. The winner of this weakness-on-weakness matchup likely gets the cover.

_PromoID=[7892]


USC vs. Cal Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how USC and Cal match up statistically:

USC Offense vs. Cal Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 69 94
Line Yards 42 100
Pass Success 57 68
Pass Blocking** 12 62
Big Play 34 62
Havoc 22 54
Finishing Drives 35 33
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Cal Offense vs. USC Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 34 89
Line Yards 1 78
Pass Success 92 126
Pass Blocking** 60 64
Big Play 88 114
Havoc 19 109
Finishing Drives 83 125
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 125 93
Coverage 113 31
Middle 8 125 109
SP+ Special Teams 42 28
Plays per Minute 25 92
Rush Rate 43.9% (123) 50.7% (91)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


USC vs. Cal Betting Pick

While both offenses should have success, especially on the ground, I don’t trust the quarterbacks to get enough touchdowns to push the final score over the total.

Both running games should have an edge on the opposing defenses, but the Cal offense ranks 66th in rushing explosiveness while the USC offense ranks just 89th in the same area.

The Cal offense ranks 81st in passing play explosiveness, and the USC offense ranks just 125th in passing play explosiveness (and that includes games with London available). Each team will need to sustain methodical drives to win this game as neither will create many explosive plays for long scores.

The USC offense’s recent resurgent rushing attack will help to slow the pace down while the Cal offense will also pound the rock on the ground behind their offensive line that leads the country in Line Yards.

The USC offense will still throw the ball frequently, but this plays into the strength of the Cal defense, the secondary.

Now that USC has more film with Dart under center and them running the ball more frequently than earlier this season, I give the advantage to Cal coach Justin Wilcox to have his team more ready to stop USC’s offense than BYU was last week.

Garbers doesn’t inspire much confidence as he continues to have accuracy issues, and if he makes enough plays through the air, I will gladly tip my hat in defeat, but I’ll take my chances.

Take under 58 with value down to 56.

Pick: Under 58 (Play to 56)

_PromoID=[11118]

Big Ten Championship Odds, Picks, Predictions: How We’re Betting Michigan vs. Iowa (December 4)

michigan-vs-iowa-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-big ten-championship-saturday-december 4-2021

Michigan vs. Iowa Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m. ET
FOX
Michigan Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-10.5
-115
43.5
-115o / -105u
-450
Iowa Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+10.5
-105
43.5
-115o / -105u
+340
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Big Ten Championship

Michigan vs. Iowa

By Kody Malstrom

For the first time in the last four years, we will not see Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. Instead, we will see the Michigan Wolverines take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Michigan comes into this game feeling on top of the world. Harbaugh and company finally picked up their first win over Ohio State last week by a score of 42-27, Michigan’s first one against its hated rival since 2011.

The Wolverines’ defensive dominance was on full display, constantly generating pressure in the pocket and making CJ Stroud run for his life.

If it wasn’t for Georgia, we would be talking about Michigan having one of the best defenses in football this year.

This is a unit that has the best edge-rushing duo in football. Aidan Hutchinson is a potential top-five NFL Draft pick and paired along with another force on the outside in David Ojabo. They will look to once again wreak Havoc on an Iowa offense that has been struggling all season long.

The offense is pretty simple, yet as efficient as they come, consistently ranking first all season in Havoc Allowed. The Wolverines grind out long possessions with some of the lowest explosiveness in the nation but have proven to be unstoppable in gaining small chunks of yards at a time.

Running backs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins will be faced with a tough task trying to find some success against the vaunted Iowa defense.

Iowa has had a roller coaster of a season leading up to this, squeaking in after Wisconsin dropped its final game against Minnesota. Deemed as frauds for their fluky wins and turnover luck, the Hawkeyes still pull wins out of nowhere and will look to do the same here.

Their offense is one of the worst units in the nation, ranking 100th or worse in every offensive metric. They have been constantly been bailed out by their defense, which consistantly generates Havoc and gifts them beautiful field position. Iowa may find it troubling to replicate this, as Michigan tops the nation in Havoc Allowed.

With playoff implications on the line for Michigan, this is more than just a Big Ten Championship.

_PromoID=[11035, 11034, 10391]


Michigan vs. Iowa Spread

Michigan -10.5

8 Picks

Iowa +10.5

4 Picks

By Mike McNamara

When looking at this matchup from an against-the-spread standpoint, this smells like a classic Kirk Ferentz spot to me. The line opened with Michigan as a 10.5 or 11-point favorite, and that’s where it sits right now at the time of writing.

I have a great deal of respect for my Action Network counterparts, and I see that the majority above like the Wolverines to cover the number and win the Big Ten Championship comfortably. In this game, I am going to have to disagree.

There is no disputing that Iowa is, for lack of a better term, offensively challenged, and that the Hawkeyes will likely struggle to move the ball against a stout Michigan defense.

A week ago, we saw the Wolverines’ front four, led by Hutchinson, really get after CJ Stroud and make things difficult for the high-powered Buckeye offense.

This week, they face a far less efficient offense with legitimate quarterback concerns. I get all of it, but Kirk Ferentz will have a plan. Expect the Hawkeyes to ride bell-cow running back Tyler Goodson and try to limit the number of possessions in this game.

Ferentz is totally fine having to send punter Tory Taylor out there and trusting his special teams and defense. Iowa ranks fifth in the country in SP+ special teams, and that has given a significant edge in many games this season.

As long as the Hawkeyes don’t turn the football over, they can hang around by feeding Goodson and then hoping he breaks a couple of long ones which will lead to points.

On the other side of the ball, I simply don’t think the Wolverines are going to be able to pound it on the ground the way they did against Ohio State. Iowa has the hogs to match up in what should be an awesome battle in the trenches. The Hawkeyes rank inside the top 20 in both Defensive Rush Success and Line Yards, and they will need to limit Hassan Haskins to have a chance in this one.

I think you’ll see Iowa force my long-lost cousin Cade McNamara to make plays with his arm to beat them. McNamara has been efficient throughout the season, but he hasn’t exactly stretched the field.

With Riley Moss leading the Hawkeye secondary, this will be a real challenge for him, and taking care of the football will go a long way.

Ultimately, I just think 11 points is too many in this spot. As motivated as Michigan will be to win the conference, it burnt a ton of energy last week finally getting over the hump against the Buckeyes.

Conference title game appearances don’t come around too often for the Hawkeyes, and Ferentz and staff have a phenomenal record in these kinds of spots as an underdog.

Expect Iowa to rely on its defense and special teams to hang around in this game and give Michigan a full four-quarter test. It may not be pretty, but the Hawkeyes will cover this number.

Staff Pick: Michigan -10.5

McNamara’s Pick: Iowa +10.5

_PromoID=[11035]

Michigan vs. Iowa Over/Under

Over 43.5

3 Picks

Under 43.5

7 Picks

By Mike Ianniello

Few things warm my soul more than a Big Ten under, and I am glad my Action Network brethren are in agreement with me.

Iowa vs. Michigan — with a total of 43.5 — is the way college football is supposed to be played. The only shame is that this game is being played indoors and not in the snow.

We know Michigan wants to establish the run. It has the 23rd-highest rush rate in the nation, leaning on the two-headed monster of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum. Both average over five yards per carry and have combined for 33 carries per game.

Against the better defenses they have faced, Michigan has turned to the run even more.

When facing Washington, it had 56 runs and 15 pass attempts. Versus Wisconsin, 44 runs and 33 passes. In Happy Valley, the Wolverines recorded 41 rushes and 29 passes. And last week in the big win over Ohio State, it put up 41 rush attempts and 20 passes.

When Iowa faces the run, it’s 16th in Rushing Success and 19th in Line Yards. The Hawkeyes sit eight in the country, allowing just 2.9 yards per carry. They have allowed more than 150 yards on the ground just twice all year and are second at defending rushing explosiveness.

Michigan hired Mike Macdonald from the Ravens as its new defensive coordinator, and it has paid off immediately. The Wolverines defense ranks in the top 25 in Rush Success, Pass Success, tackling, coverage, Finishing Drives, and Line Yards.

Well, no offense to Iowa (pun intended), but its offense stinks. It ranks 123rd in the country in total offense, just below UMass. The Hawkeyes are 119th in Rushing Success and 121st in Passing Success and really have not done anything well this year.

It’s not exactly uncommon for Iowa to not be an offensive juggernaut, but what is surprising is how bad this offensive line is. Despite having the best center in the country (by far) in Tyler Linderbaum, the Hawkeyes rank 129th in Line Yards and 99th in Pass blocking.

Iowa’s tackles have really struggled this year and both have a pass-blocking grade below 60, per Pro Football Focus. They have allowed a combined seven sacks and 38 quarterback pressures.

It could be a long afternoon for them, as this Iowa line will have no answer for Hutchinson and Ojabo, who have combined for 24 sacks and both rank in the top 10 in the country.

With the struggles Iowa has on offense, it relies on turnovers and special teams mistakes to score points.

Well, Michigan has just nine turnovers all season, and only five teams have fewer. And the Wolverines rank second in the country in special teams, according to SP+. They won’t make the mistakes Iowa needs.

Both of these teams are top-10 in the country in scoring defense and allow just 17 points per game. Expect a classic Big Ten rock fight in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Staff Pick: Under 43.5


Michigan vs. Iowa 1H Under 23.5

By Kody Malstrom

This has been a money-maker and a frequent best bet for me all season. Let’s ride it again. By now, we have a good feeling who Michigan is. Nothing has changed all season, as it’s formula has proven successful.

The Wolverines boast one of the best defenses in the nation, swallowing up opposing offenses week in and week out. They held rival Ohio State in check, an impressive feat against one of the best offenses in football.

They nearly rank top-30 in every defensive category, one that includes a top-10 rank in Def. Finishing Drives. Even if Iowa somehow lucks into decent field position, it will struggle to put up points on the Michigan defense past the 40-yard line.

Michigan will once again find success on defense, as Iowa comes in as one of the all-around worst offenses in football. With Iowa owning below-average ranks in every offensive category, Michigan should have zero excuses for Iowa gaining any serious yardage, let alone scoring.

On the Michigan end, it has been every under bettor’s dream this season. The Wolverines are methodical and slow, wearing down opponents with their dynamic duo in the run game for small chunks at a time. Michigan has zero explosiveness, limited passing, and plays at a slow pace.

Better yet, the Wolverines also remain the top team nationally in Havoc Allowed. Facing one of the most protective and efficient offensive units in football, turnovers will come at a premium, even against luck-box Iowa.

Iowa will pose a challenge for the Michigan offense, as it’s also a great defensive unit. Relying on turnover luck and flipping the field on early stoppages, Iowa will give Michigan fits as it searches for answers on how to break this defense.

With Michigan playing at its usual style and trying to figure out this defense, I believe this shows some value to a first-half under. Iowa should in no way contribute to points on the board, making this a one-sided affair.

If Michigan is slowed down more than it already is and we can avoid more Iowa turnover luck, then this should be a sweat-free hit.

Pick: 1H Under 23.5


The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Michigan vs. Iowa Odds & Picks: Bet This Big Ten Championship Over?

iowa vs. michigan-odds-picks-betting-big ten championship-december 4

Michigan vs. Iowa Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m. ET
FOX
Michigan Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-10.5
-115
43.5
-115o / -105u
-450
Iowa Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+10.5
-105
43.5
-115o / -105u
+340
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Michigan looks to secure its first Big Ten title and spot in the College Football Playoff under Jim Harbaugh when it takes on Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday night.

Iowa has had an unexpectedly fantastic season, going 10-2 and winning the Big Ten West after Wisconsin lost to Minnesota in Minneapolis last weekend.

The Hawkeyes are somewhat of a fluky team to have made it this far, but they are playing in the perfect Kirk Ferentz mold by having a solid rushing attack, great defense, and fantastic special teams.

Iowa last won the Big Ten Title in 2004 when it split with Michigan but has not won the title since the conference championship game was introduced. So, this could be Iowa’s first outright Big Ten title since 1985.

Michigan finally got the monkey off its back and beat Ohio State, 44-29, in convincing fashion last Saturday in Ann Arbor.

Outside of one bad quarter against Michigan State, Michigan has been very dominant all season long and should have plenty of advantages against Iowa.

The question is whether or not the Wolverines come down from that emotional high and win convincingly as big favorites.

_PromoID=[11035, 11034, 10391]


Michigan Wolverines

Wolverines Offense

Michigan’s offense has been humming this season.

The Wolverines are gaining 6.3 yards per play, rank 26th in Offensive Success Rate, and 18th in EPA/Play. However, Michigan hasn’t faced a level of defense like Iowa’s since its game against Wisconsin back in early September.

Michigan runs a rush-heavy offense, carrying the ball 59.6% of the time, which is good news and bad news against Iowa’s front seven. The Wolverines rank 16th in Rushing Success Rate, 29th in EPA/Rush, and average 5.3 yards per carry.

The problem in this matchup is Iowa’s defense is fantastic against the run and preventing explosive rushing plays.

However, the Hawks are outside the top 70 in Stuff Rate and Power Success Rate Allowed, so Michigan’s running back tandem of Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins should carry the ball beyond the line of scrimmage consistently.

Cade McNamara has had a very interesting season. He’s not going to wow anybody, as he’s averaging only 8.1 yards per attempt and owns a 74.5 PFF passing grade with 14 big-time throws and only five turnover-worthy plays.

The problem is Michigan comes in at only 47th in Passing Success Rate, which is a problem going up against the Hawkeyes’ secondary, which is one of the best in college football.

The advantage Michigan will have in the passing game is explosive plays. Iowa is 67th nationally in passing explosiveness allowed and will be without one of its best cornerbacks in Matt Hankins. So, McNamara should be able to break off some explosive plays through the air.

Wolverines Defense

Michigan has one of the best defenses in country, allowing only 4.6 yards per play. However, it helps when a team has one of the best defensive players in all of college football in Aiden Hutchinson.

Hutchinson has been wreaking Havoc all season long, as he has 68 pressures, 34 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and a 93.0 pass-rushing grade, per PFF. He will be a big problem for an Iowa offensive line that has struggled to protect the quarterback.

For Michigan to stop Iowa, it’s going to have to first stop the run and then limit Iowa’s explosive plays in the passing game.

Michigan allows only 3.6 yards per rush attempt and ranks top-25 in both Rushing Success Rate Allowed and Defensive Line Yards, so it should be able to stop a poor Iowa rushing attack.

The Michigan secondary has been susceptible to allowing big plays in the passing game, which is its biggest weakness on defense. The unit ranks 46th in explosive passing allowed. Iowa comes in at 55th in passing explosiveness, so the Hawkeyes will likely need to throw the ball deep if they aren’t able to run the ball.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Iowa Hawkeyes

Hawkeyes Offense

Throughout most of the season, the Iowa offense has been very anemic and it shows in the advanced stats, as it ranks outside the top 100 in yards per play, EPA/Play, and Success Rate.

However, Iowa’s offense improved a lot in the month of November

In Iowa’s last four games, it’s averaging close to 5.0 yards per play and 4.0 yards per rush attempt. I know that doesn’t sound great, but through its first eight games of the season, Iowa was gaining only 4.4 yards per play and 2.8 yards per rush attempt.

So, Tyler Goodson and company should find some success against Michigan’s front seven.

It was announced earlier this week that Spencer Petras will get the start at quarterback over Alex Padilla.

Petras really isn’t an upgrade over Padilla because he hasn’t been very efficient this season, averaging only 6.5 yards per attempt with a 71.5 passing grade, per PFF. However, Petras has a 95.0 passing grade on attempts over 20+ yards, so Iowa should look to attack with the deep ball and rip off a few big plays in the passing game.

Hawkeyes Defense

It’s incredibly difficult to throw the ball on this Iowa secondary that has allowed only 6.1 yards per pass attempt this season.

Iowa’s secondary grades out as the fourth-best unit in all of college football, per PFF. However, as previously mentioned, Hankins is going to miss this game for the Hawkeyes, which is massive considering his 80.2 coverage grade is second-best among the Iowa cornerbacks.

However, Riley Moss will start in the secondary and will be a major problem for McNamara. In 310 coverage snaps this season, Moss has allowed only 17 catches, no touchdowns, and has four interceptions.

However, Michigan is running the ball almost 57% of the time, so it will be on the front seven to try and slow down Michigan’s rushing attack.

Fortunately for Iowa, its front seven has actually been just as dominant as the secondary this season. The Hawkeyes allow only 3.0 yards per rush attempt while ranking 16th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, 19th in Defensive Line Yards, and ninth in EPA per rush.

However, this is the best rushing offense they’ve seen all season, so we’ll see if they can handle Corum and Haskins.

_PromoID=[11035]


Michigan vs. Iowa Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Michigan and Iowa match up statistically:

Michigan Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 16 16
Line Yards 45 19
Pass Success 47 13
Pass Blocking** 45 83
Big Play 80 5
Havoc 1 84
Finishing Drives 51 51
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Iowa Offense vs. Michigan Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 119 22
Line Yards 129 18
Pass Success 121 17
Pass Blocking** 99 3
Big Play 101 26
Havoc 113 41
Finishing Drives 120 13
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 7 22
Coverage 20 4
Middle 8 8 63
SP+ Special Teams 2 5
Plays per Minute 89 102
Rush Rate 60.8% (23) 56.9% (50)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Michigan vs. Iowa Betting Pick

Even though this game has all of the makings of a defensive slugfest, I do think both defenses are susceptible to giving up explosive plays in the passing game, which does provide a little of value on the over.

Our PRO Projections have 46.3 points projected for this game, so I’ll back the over at 43.5 points or better.

Pick: Over 43.5 or Better 

_PromoID=[11034]

ACC Championship Odds and Predictions: How We’re Betting Pitt vs. Wake Forest (Saturday, Dec. 4)

pitt-vs-wake forest-odds-picks-predictions-best bets-acc-championship-saturday-december 4-2021

Pitt vs. Wake Forest Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m. ET
ABC
Pitt Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3.5
-110
71
-110o / -110u
-160
Wake Forest Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3.5
-110
71
-110o / -110u
+140
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

ACC Championship

Pitt vs. Wake Forest

By Shawn Burns

For the first time since 2014, we will have a new ACC champion. Clemson has dominated the conference of late, but Wake Forest won the Atlantic Division and Pittsburgh won the Coastal Division, setting up an unexpected matchup.

The Panthers joined the ACC in 2013, but this will only be the second time these programs have played and the first since the 2018 season.

Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi is a defensive-minded coach, but the Panthers have one of the top offenses and quarterbacks in the country. Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett is a Heisman candidate and has the potential to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Since losing to Western Michigan, the Panthers have won eight of their last nine games and eying a New Year’s Six bowl berth and their first ever ACC championship.

Wake Forest fans couldn’t have asked for more last week. First, the university locked in head coach Dave Clawson to a long-term deal, and then the Demon Deacons clinched a berth in the ACC title game with a win over Boston College.

Wake Forest is hoping for their first conference championship since 2006 and they will lean on an offense that hasn’t disappointed this season. Quarterback Sam Hartman is an elite talent and has the weapons on the perimeter to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Pitt vs. Wake Forest Spread

Pitt -3.5

5 Picks

Wake Forest +3.5

6 Picks

By Mike Ianniello

Our Action Network college football staff is nearly split on the ACC Championship game, with six writers taking Wake Forest +3 and five laying the field goal with Pitt. However, I am riding with the Panthers.

My guess is a lot of the people backing Wake Forest is due to the reports of the flu passing through the Pitt team. Pickett missed practice early in the week but returned to the field on Wednesday, saying he feels better and will be good to go.

The worst unit on the field Saturday is clearly the Wake Forest defense. The Demon Deacons rank 105th in the country in Success Rate on defense, 101st in EPA per play and 115th at preventing big plays.

Pittsburgh’s defense, meanwhile, is 33rd in Success Rate on defense and is 16th in EPA per play. The Panthers’ front seven creates a ton of Havoc and is terrific against the run.

Wake Forest has been able to outscore its opponents thanks to a fantastic offense, but the Pitt offense has also been elite. As good as the Deacons offense is, they rank 38th in Success Rate and 16th in EPA per play. Well, Pitt has been even better sitting 16th in Success Rate and sixth in EPA per play.

The Panthers are fourth in the country putting up 512.8 yards per game, led by Pickett, who has played himself into a possible trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

The fifth-year senior tossed 40 touchdowns, the second most in the country, and just seven interceptions during the regular season. He has a 92.4 passer grade at Pro Football Focus, the second best among all quarterbacks.

Receiver Jordan Addison is a Biletnikoff Award finalist, leading the country with 17 touchdown catches and racking up 112.8 yards per game. He averages over 15.9 yards per catch and should have no problem getting behind this Wake Forest defense.

Wake Forest had what is probably the best season in program history, but it has played with fire a little bit due to the defensive struggles. The Deacs beat Louisville, Syracuse and NC State each by just three points and lost two of their last four games.

Pitt beat the two teams Wake Forest lost to and has won eight of its last nine games, all by at least 10 points. Historically, Narduzzi and Pitt have struggled as a large favorite, but they have been terrific when laying less than a touchdown.

When they are a favorite of six points or less, Pitt is 13-3-2 against the spread under Narduzzi. They have been the better offense, the better defense, and come into this game playing better down the stretch. In what could be the most fun game of the weekend, I’ll take the Panthers and see yinz at the pay window n’at.

_PromoID=[7823, 11118]

Pitt vs. Wake Forest Over/Under

Over 71

10 Picks

Under 71

1 Pick

By Doug Ziefel

These are two of the top five offenses in the country, with Wake Forest ranking second and Pitt coming in at fifth. Both teams are averaging at least 40 points per game, and it is no secret as to why. Two of the best quarterbacks in all of college football are going to go toe to toe in this one.

Let’s start with Pickett. The senior has put together an outstanding season as he is fifth in the country in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns. He has also used this season to etch his name all over the Pitt record book. Since we are talking about Pitt here, I’m going to say it, he may be a second coming of Dan Marino.

Though let’s forget all the hyperbole and focus on the matchup. Pickett and the Panthers are facing a Wake Forest defense that can certainly be beat through the air. The Deacons are 65th in yards per pass allowed and we may need to be reminded of how they gave up 56 points to Army. That performance was also due in part to the fact the Wake Forest defense is even poorer against the run. They are 113th in opponent’s yards per rush and allow 216 yards per game on the ground. The Panthers only run 45 %of the time, but that option will be there all day long.

Sam Hartman might be the next best thing after Pickett. Hartman has had a prolific season passing the ball as he ranks ninth in both passing yards and passing touchdowns. He now gets to face a very vulnerable Pitt secondary that ranks 119th in passing yards allowed per game and is 81st in opponent completion percentage.

The fans are not the only ones who are going to be hoping to see these two quarterbacks light up the scoreboard. We here at the Action Network have come to the agreement that the over in this matchup is the right side.

Staff Pick: Over 71

_PromoID=[10391]

Pitt vs. Wake Forest Player Props

Jaquarii Roberson Over 73.5 Receiving Yards

By Darin Gardner

Wake Forest’s offense ranks fifth in expected points added (EPA) per pass, and that’s largely due to an extremely productive receiver duo of AT Perry and Roberson, both of whom surpassed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Roberson sees a 24% share of the team’s total passing targets and leads the Demon Deacons with 64 receptions. He’s earned an 84.9 Pro Football Focus receiving grade this season, which ranks second in the ACC, with a per-game average of 5.2 catches and 85.3 yards.

Pitt has been great against the run, but the same can’t be said for a pass defense that ranks 98th in passing success rate allowed. Roberson sees nearly 80% of his snaps from the slot, and that has been a position that Pitt has struggled to defend. The Panthers have surrendered the second-most receptions in the country to the slot position this year, per PFF, and its 55.3% success rate allowed on slot targets ranks 113th.

There should be plenty of points scored on both sides of the ball in this contest, and Roberson is in good position to exploit a major weakness in the Pitt secondary.


By Stuckey

I completely agree with Darin about the Roberson over.

To add on, he should be matched up with free safety Eric Hallett in man coverage most of the game. Hallett had 342 snaps in the slot this season, which are the third most in the country. The results were not kind. Of the 175 corners who took at least 75 snaps, Hallett was one of eight to allow more than two yards per snap. He’s allowed 53 catches and 696 yards in the slot, which are both the most in FBS.

Quarterbacks have a 103 QB Rating when targeting Hallett. And he has faced plenty of putrid passing offenses: UMass, New Hampshire, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Syracuse. For what it’s worth, Roberson has taken 467 of his 588 snaps in the slot.

I truly believe this Pitt secondary is vastly overrated after losing three high-caliber players. Any explosive passing attack they faced in non-weather games absolutely roasted them. Sam Hartman can do the same on Saturday and Roberson should cook from the slot all day.

Pick: Jacquarii Roberson over 73.5 receiving yards

_PromoID=[11118]

UFC Fight Night Odds, Projections, Betting Picks: Our Best Bets for Matthews vs. Well and Kape vs. Zhumagulov (December 4)

The UFC is back after the holiday break and this weekend’s event is stacked. The 14-fight card is headlined by an exciting matchup between rising contender Rob Font and MMA veteran Jose Aldo in a bantamweight main event.

So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed two fights and picks on Saturday’s stacked card that present betting value.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches plus Sean Zerillo’s projections below.

_PromoID=[7892, 11118, 10391]

Moneyline Projections

Prop Projections


Erich Richter: Manel Kape vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov

Contributor at The Action Network

Kape is the biggest favorite on the card this weekend by a wide margin. “Starboy” came into the UFC with a ton of fanfare and many still think he is a major prospect for this division.

This is not a shared opinion of mine. Kape is an excellent athlete, but has been lulled into inactivity at times. Admittedly, he had his best performance to date — a knockout win over Ode Osbourne — in August. However, he has lost two of his last three bouts and there are some grappling concerns.

This feeds in nicely to his opponent who will hope to grapple. Zhumagulov will be hunting for takedowns throughout this fight. Kape has been submitted twice in his career — notably against Kyoji Horiguchi, who is fighting for the Bellator title this weekend.

Kape’s athleticism and level of competition is very impressive. This is the main reason he is a -300 favorite. Moreover, Zhumagulov should be an underdog but closer to +140, not +240. As a value play for UFC this weekend, Zhumagulov could win this on his grappling alone.

Zhumagulov could get highlight-reel KO’d like Osbourne did. However, at these odds, Zhumagulov is the best underdog play of the weekend with the best odds at BetMGM.

The Pick: Zhalgas Zhumagulov Moneyline (+240)

_PromoID=[5114, 5113]


Billy Ward: Jake Matthews vs. Jeremiah Wells

Contributor at The Action Network

Jeremiah Wells looked impressive in his UFC debut, dispatching solid veteran Wallrey Alves 30 seconds into Round 2 by way of knockout. Next up for Wells is UFC veteran Jake Matthews, who will be entering the Octagon for the 16th time despite being just 27 years old.

Matthews’ most recent fight was a submission loss to Sean Brady. Brady and Wells are teammates at Renzo Gracie Philadelphia, which is a good sign for Wells. Wells and Brady fight a similar style, with heavy strikes, aggressive takedowns, and solid submission skills. Wells should be able to employ a similar strategy to Brady in this one, particularly if the fight hits the ground.

Wells should also have a striking advantage. He appears noticeably faster and more powerful than Matthews, and brings a three-inch reach advantage despite being the shorter fighter. This is a big edge, as being shorter allows you to carry more muscle at a given weight class, while the longer reach eliminates the drawbacks of fighting taller fighters.

Matthews’ best odds of taking this one come through grappling, but that’s a tall order against Wells. Matthews has four submission wins in the UFC, but none by knockout. He also throws a below-average volume of strikes, which generally looks poorly to the judges if the fight goes that way. I have a ton of respect for the jiu-jitsu of all the Renzo Gracie Philly fighters, so it’s hard to see where Matthews has the edge here.

While he joined the UFC late, Wells truly has the talent to join his teammate Brady as a top Welterweight contender. Just like it was for Brady, the fight against Matthews will be a stepping stone for Wells.

Wells should win this in impressive fashion, meaning we aren’t likely to get him as a +155 underdog (PointsBet) for a while after this one.

The Pick: Jeremiah Wells Moneyline (+155)

The must-have app for UFC bettors

The best UFC betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

College Basketball Odds & Picks for Iowa State vs. Creighton: Market Still Undervalues Cyclones

iowa state vs creighton-odds-picks-dec-4

Iowa State vs. Creighton Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
9 p.m. ET
FS1
Iowa State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+4.5
-110
139.5
-110o / -110u
+165
Creighton Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-4.5
-110
139.5
-110o / -110u
-200
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Few teams have had more season-over-season improvement than Iowa State this year under new head coach T.J. Otzelberger. The Cyclones have won all seven of their games in 2021-22, but they will be tested on the road for the first time this season when they visit Creighton on Saturday.

The Blue Jays have almost no returning production from last season’s excellent campaign, and it’s showed in their early-season results. Creighton only has one loss to Colorado State, but it has struggled against lower-tier, small-major programs.

Iowa State won the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn during Feast Week with consecutive wins against Xavier and Memphis, and Otzelberger’s group of transfers have meshed faster than the market and public thought they would, leading to a significant increase in the perception of the Cyclones’ overall quality.

_PromoID=[9510]


Iowa State Cyclones

The advanced metrics algorithms like KenPom and Bart Torvik tend to be slow to catch up to ascending teams like Iowa State, and I think that’s the case here for the Cyclones. The defense is as good as any unit in the country, as they rank 13th in Torvik’s defensive efficiency through seven games.

There’s major question marks about the offense in the half court that still have to be answered. Specifically whether they can consistently score if they get slowed down, but Creighton isn’t really the team to slow them down and test their ability in the half court.

Izaiah Brockington transferred from Penn State, freshman point guard Tyrese Hunter has great assist numbers thus far and experienced shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur came in from Minnesota.

The Cyclones don’t have a ton of height, but they guard better than their size and have held up well against teams bigger than them who like to score inside, like Xavier and Memphis.

That will be a major key in this game on Saturday as Creighton relies heavily on interior scoring and really struggles to shoot from the perimeter.

The must-have app for college basketball bettors

The best NCAAB betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Creighton Bluejays

Greg McDermott’s squad has only one loss, but it has really struggled against inferior opponents this year. Per Bart Torvik, Creighton is just 107th this season in overall team efficiency once prior seasons are removed from the sample and just the eight games played are included. One major reason for the poor numbers has been the lack of returning production.

Creighton is bottom half in bench minutes, and in the 300s in both returning production and minutes continuity. The Bluejays have very few shooters on the current roster and rely on interior scoring more than almost every team in the country. Only seven teams have more points from 2s than the Bluejays this season, and Iowa State’s physical defense should make it hard for them to convert contested shots, despite the Bluejays’ size advantage.

The biggest issue for Creighton has been the turnovers: It forces very few of them and turns it over a lot itself. It leads to a lot of empty possessions and makes it hard to back a team as a favorite when they have the worse defense as well.

The Bluejays haven’t shown an ability to replace the entire starting five that they lost, including their primary scorer in Marcus Zegarowski, primary shooter in Mitch Ballack and best big in Christian Bishop. This has all the makings of a transition and rebuild year for Creighton, and the market still isn’t pricing that in here.


Iowa State vs. Creighton Betting Pick

Ranked teams are just 1-14 against the spread this season on the road against unranked teams, but this is an example of the market not catching up to the true strength of both teams even this far into the season.

Iowa State’s defense should be able to reign in a Creighton offense that’s limited from beyond the arc and has major turnover issues. While Iowa State’s half court offense isn’t anything special, turnovers should enable it to get out and run at a faster pace and use its superior athleticism in the open floor.

The Cyclones have played like a top-25 team, and Creighton hasn’t looked anything close to an NCAA Tournament team at this point in the season. So while you could claim this a good buy-low, sell-high spot on Creighton here, I think it’s more likely the market is still catching up to the true strength of these teams, especially Iowa State, who’s heavily driven by a new coach and some transfers.

As 4.5-point underdogs, this game appears to be a tossup on paper, so even though it is ISU’s first true road game, back the Cyclones’ defense to keep this game close late.

Pick: Iowa State +4.5

_PromoID=[9510]

Pitt vs. Wake Forest Odds & Picks: Bet the Demon Deacons in ACC Championship (December 4)

wake forest vs. pitt-odds-picks-acc championship-betting-december 4

Pitt vs. Wake Forest Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m. ET
ABC
Pitt Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3
-105
71
-110o / -110u
-145
Wake Forest Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3
-115
71
-110o / -110u
+125
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Wake Forest and Pittsburgh meet in Charlotte for what is destined to be a high-scoring affair to decide the ACC Championship.

Wake Forest has had an incredible season, sitting at 10-2, which is only its second 10-win season in school history. Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons offense has been lighting up the scoreboard all season long, but they are running into an offense that has been just as prolific on Saturday.

Kenny Pickett and the Pitt Panthers had one of their best seasons in a long time, going 10-2 with wins over Clemson, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Pat Narduzzi’s offense, much like Wake Forest’s, has been putting an absurd amount of points on the board, so this game has the potential to be the most entertaining game of championship weekend.

_PromoID=[7823, 10391, 11118]


Pittsburgh Panthers

Panthers Offense All About Pickett

The Panthers play a very high-paced tempo with Pickett under center and it’s been really effective, as they’re averaging 6.2 yards per play and rank 17th in Success Rate.

Pickett is leaps and bounds better than he’s been in the past, averaging 8.8 yards per attempt with 40 touchdowns and a PFF passing grade of 92.4, which is one of the best in the country.

The biggest advantage Pickett has is he’s the best deep-ball thrower in college football. On throws over 10+ yards, Pickett has better than a 60% adjusted completion percentage with a whopping 28 big-time throws and only 11 turnover-worthy plays.

This game will likely be in Pickett’s hands because the Pittsburgh rushing attack has been pretty average this season. The Panthers gain only 4.0 yards per carry, rank 49th in Rushing Success Rate and 114th in rushing explosiveness.

The biggest weakness of Wake Forest’s defense has been stopping the run, but Pitt won’t be able to exploit that area like other teams have this season.

Pitt is Leaky in Secondary

Pittsburgh has been solid defensively this season, allowing only 5.1 yards per play and ranking 33rd in Success Rate Allowed, which is pretty impressive considering it has faced four offenses this season inside the top 35 in EPA/Play.

However, a lot of the Panthers’ defensive numbers are inflated against bad competition. In their four games against Tennessee, Western Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia, the Panthers allowed 6.1 yards per play and 8.95 yards per pass attempt.

The secondary is the biggest issue, which is not good news with Hartman coming to town. The Panthers sit 58th in Passing Success Rate and 70th in coverage grade, per PFF. That’s a nightmare against one of the best passing offenses in the country.

Pittsburgh’s front seven has been dominating opposing rushing attacks, allowing only 2.8 yards per carry, which is the fifth-best mark in college football.

The Panthers are also top-15 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, Defensive Line Yards, and EPA/Rush allowed, along with a ranking of 19th in explosive rushing allowed. They should be able to shut down a below-average Wake Forest rushing attack.

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest’s Offense is Explosive Behind Hartman

The main reason why Wake Forest is 10-2 is because of its offense, which is gaining 6.1 yards per play and ranks 11th in EPA/Play.

Hartman has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season, averaging 8.8 yards per attempt, and has a 90.2 passing grade, per PFF.

It helps that the Deacons have one of the best receivers in the country in Jaquarii Roberson, who has racked up more than 1,000 yards receiving this season and owns a 99.9 PFF receiving grade on passes over 20+ yards in the air.

The Wake Forest rushing attack hasn’t really gotten going this season, as it’s gaining only 4.1 yards per rush. The Demon Deacons also rank 57th in Rushing Success Rate, 53rd in Offensive Line Yards, and 56th in EPA/Play.

However, this game is going to be in Hartman’s hands given how good Pittsburgh’s run defense is.

Demon Deacons Need Secondary to Show Up

Wake Forest’s defense played incredible last weekend against Boston College, allowing only 10 points and 189 yards of total offense. However, for the season, it’s been pretty bad, ranking 104th in Success Rate Allowed.

Most of their issues have come against the run, as the Demon Deacons are allowing 5.2 yards per attempt, rank 116th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and 96th in EPA/Rush allowed.

However, given how inept Pittsburgh’s rushing attack has been for most of the season, they likely won’t be exploited on Saturday.

The key in this matchup is whether the Demon Deacons’ secondary can slow down Pickett. Which secondary will show up? The one that held Phil Jurkovec to 19 yards passing last weekend or the one that allowed 408 passing yards to Devin Leary?

Wake Forest is allowing only 7.4 yards per attempt, which is around the national average, and has 34th-best coverage grade, per PFF. With numbers like that, it may be able to slow down Pickett.

_PromoID=[7823]


Pitt vs. Wake Forest Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Pitt and Wake Forest match up statistically:

Pitt Offense vs. Wake Forest Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 49 116
Line Yards 36 116
Pass Success 7 89
Pass Blocking** 17 70
Big Play 15 115
Havoc 16 40
Finishing Drives 8 97
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Wake Forest Offense vs. Pitt Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 53 17
Line Yards 57 8
Pass Success 12 58
Pass Blocking** 13 63
Big Play 58 80
Havoc 9 13
Finishing Drives 5 56
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 52 79
Coverage 70 34
Middle 8 1 20
SP+ Special Teams 36 19
Plays per Minute 19 4
Rush Rate 48.3% (106) 53.% (80)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Pitt vs. Wake Forest Betting Pick

This is no doubt going to be a shootout with these two quarterbacks and the fact that both Pittsburgh and Wake Forest are both top-20 in plays per minute.

This could very likely come down to who has the ball last, but I trust Hartman throwing against Pittsburgh’s below-average secondary more than Pickett throwing into Wake Forest’s secondary.

Our PRO Projections have Wake Forest projected as a -0.3 favorite, which is graded as one of the best values on the board for Saturday. I’ll back the Demon Deacons at +3 or better.

Pick: Wake Forest +3 or Better

_PromoID=[10391]

Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds, Picks & Predictions: Bettors Debate Which Side to Back in AAC Championship Game (Saturday, Dec. 4)

houston vs cincinnati-odds-pick-prediction-betting-preview-aac championship game-december 4

Houston vs. Cincinnati Odds

Houston Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+10.5
-115
53
-105o / -115u
+340
Cincinnati Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-10.5
-105
53
-105o / -115u
-450
Odds via DraftKings.Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Why You Should Bet Houston

By Mike Ianniello

Cincinnati finished the regular season undefeated for the second straight year and is on the cusp of being the first Group of 5 team to reach the College Football Playoff. Just about every college football fan wants them to get in, so naturally that means the idiots on the committee will most likely leave them out.

Dana Holgorsen took a really unique approach when he came to Houston in 2019. After a slow start to the season, he decided to basically redshirt his entire roster and take a “tanking” approach we typically don’t see in college football. He went just 7-13 in his first two years with the Cougars as he elected to prepare for the future.

Well, the future is now. After dropping its season opener to Texas Tech, Houston has won 11 straight games and has a chance to win its first AAC Championship since 2015 under Tom Herman.

Despite losing defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to Notre Dame, Cincinnati’s defense is still an elite unit. The Bearcats rank 13th in the country in Success Rate and are eighth in yards per game. They are widely regarded as one of the game’s top defenses.

So, why doesn’t this Cincinnati defense get more love? Because the Houston defense has been better, ranking fourth in the country in Success Rate and sixth in yards per game this season.

_PromoID=[10391]

The Cincinnati defense ranks 30th against the rush and seventh against the pass. Well, Houston is 12th against the rush and second in the entire country against the pass. Cougars defensive coordinator Doug Belk was named a Broyles Award semifinalist and has his defense humming.

Houston’s biggest strength has been a dominant defensive line. Quarterbacks have had rough go against a Cougars front that ranks first in the nation in pass rush. Houston averages 3.4 sacks per game, 7.3 tackles for loss and 23 quarterback pressures per game.

What makes the Houston defense so difficult to keep out of the backfield is that it attacks the offense from every position and is super deep up front.

On the outside, D’Anthony Jones and David Anenih create a ton of pressure on the quarterback. Defensive tackles Logan Hall and Latrell Bankston push back the line of scrimmage and force tackles for loss from the inside.

And then there is swiss army knife Derek Parish, who Belk moves all over the field. He plays defensive end, outside linebacker, inside linebacker and sometimes even fullback. Parish leads the team in sacks and is so hard to game plan against.

The biggest area of weakness for this Cincinnati team is their offensive line. The Bearcats rank 82nd in pass blocking grade and 46th in Line Yards. They’re going to struggle against this Cougars front seven, which ranks seventh in Line Yards and fourth in Havoc.


Why You Should Bet Cincinnati

By Tanner McGrath

The Bearcats are on the cusp of being the first Group of 5 team to reach the Playoff. Luke Fickell’s team is about to make history. Not just for the Bearcats, but for a whole swath of underappreciated college football teams.

Everybody and their mothers wants Cincinnati to win this game, and to do so convincingly. But, of course, nobody wants it more than Fickell coach and his players. And the Bearcats can’t risk anything given the morons on the CFP committee.

Is there any way that Cincinnati doesn’t blow out Houston Saturday? Hell, the Cougars might just let ‘em!

But, on the “off” chance that Holgorsen’s squad immorally try to spoil this historic opportunity, the Cougars simply don’t have the football team to accomplish that.

Houston is a fine football team, but Cincinnati’s level of dominance is unparalleled. The Bearcats led the AAC in both scoring offense and defense this season, scoring the most touchdowns in the conference (62) while allowing the fewest (22).

Cincinnati also recorded some marquee wins, with double-digit victories over Indiana and No. 9 Notre Dame. Houston, meanwhile, beat one ranked team this season in No. 19 SMU, and it allowed 37 points in the process.

When the Bearcats played SMU just a few weeks ago, they won by a score of 48-14.

The stats are equally impressive, and I’m ready to point them out in my rebuttals. But there’s no reason to overthink this. Look at the teams, look at the resumes and look at the context.

Houston wins 30-10 on Saturday. Book it.

_PromoID=[8749, 7293]

Cougars Refutation

Ianniello: I agree, the Bearcats need to blow out Houston. But how can we be so sure they will? Cincinnati has needed to win big all season. And while they took care of SMU, what about the other games down the stretch?

The Bearcats only beat Navy (3-8) by seven, Tulane (2-10) by 19, Tulsa (6-6) by eight, and South Florida (2-10) by 17. They failed to cover the spread in all of those games, four of their last six.

You think Houston is going to score just 10 points? They aren’t playing the 1985 Bears here. The Cougars have put up at least 30 points in eight straight games and are averaging 38.8 points per game, which is almost identical to Cincinnati.

The defense is the strength of this Cougars team, but don’t sleep on the offense either. Houston ranks 16th in the country in finishing drives and is the ninth best at creating big plays.

Quarterback Clayton Tune and the passing attack rank 17th in Passing Success rate, compared to Cincinnati, which sits 45th. The running game has really improved down the stretch, as well, as the Cougs have tallied 12 rushing scores in the last four games.

There’s playmaking all over the offense. Alton McCaskill is averaging more than five yards per carry and has 16 touchdowns this year. Nathaniel Dell is the best receiver in this game and leads the American with 11 touchdowns and is second with 1,027 receiving yards.

Cincinnati has held two teams to 10 or fewer points this year. Houston has kept four teams under that mark. Might need to adjust your math on that score prediction.


Bearcats Refutation

McGrath: I don’t think the Bearcats offensive line is much of a weakness. There are plenty of stats that show the success of that unit. It ranks 14th in preventing Havoc, 23rd in sack rate (4.6%), 30th in stuff rate (15.1%) and second in power success rate (91.2%).

Plus, the Bearcats are top-20 in Rush Success Rate behind this “weakness”. Cincinnati is rushing for 170 yards per game at 5.2 yards per carry.

And to expand on the Cincinnati offense, it’s led by Desmond Ritter, who’s PFF’s 13th-highest-graded quarterback, completing 65.7% of his passes with 27 touchdowns to eight interceptions.

As a result, Cincinnati is ninth in Standard Downs Success Rate, scoring 40 points per game by consistently moving the ball, something Houston hasn’t been as successful doing. (That’s called foreshadowing, children.)

The must-have app for college football bettors

The best NCAAF betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Cougars Rebuttal

Ianniello: Yes, Ritter ranks 13th according to PFF. Well, Tune is fourth.
Completing 65.7% of your passes is great, but it’s not as good as the 68.2% that Tune has completed this season.

Cincinnati has been great in standard downs, but the Houston defense is also sixth in standard down success rate. So, what happens when the Cougars defense has success early?

When forced into passing downs, the Bearcats offense ranks just 66th in Success rate. When they lose the ability to run the ball, they aren’t as effective. Houston on the other hand, is 17th in passing down.

So even if they get behind the chains, that doesn’t stall the drive the way it has for Cincinnati. Add in the Cougars ability to rush the passer, if the Bearcats don’t have success on early downs and need to throw the ball, they could be in trouble.


Bearcats Rebuttal

McGrath: Funny you talk about the Cougars offense. Because they’ve played nobody on defense.

Houston has played one top-70 scoring defense this season in East Carolina. The Cougars played five teams that are outside the top 100 in points per game allowed. The Cougars are going to be shell shocked when they play this Bearcats defense.

Plus, those rushing touchdowns don’t say too much. The Cougars are 115th in Line Yards and 85th in Rush Success Rate. As a result, the Cougars don’t move the ball consistently, ranking 86th in Standard Downs Success Rate.

Houston can be all fancy with their big plays and strong-armed quarterback, but I’m quite confident in my score prediction when you consider the Cougars won’t move the ball on the ground. Besides, Cincinnati ranks 18th in preventing Explosiveness and second in PFF’s coverage grades, so I’m even more confident that Houston’s offense will be incapable on Saturday.

Closing Arguments

Ianniello: Bet Houston +10.5

Look, I want Cincinnati to win. I want the Bearcats in the Playoff. I’m not even saying I think Houston will win this game. I’m saying 10.5 is way too many points.

This Bearcats team is not as good as last year’s, and it’s getting priced a little high because people want it to blow teams out. But Cincinnati hasn’t done that consistently all season.

Houston has an elite defense, with the best defensive line in the AAC by far. That unit is capable of dominating a game and making life extremely difficult for Ridder.

On the other side, Tune has been terrific this year and even if the Bearcats do go up, Tune is good enough to keep the Cougars alive and this back door opens the entire game.


In the playoff era, Power 5 and AAC favorites of greater than four points in conference championship games are 28-1 straight-up. Those teams haven’t just won those games, they’ve dominated against the spread as well.

The Bearcats are going to win this game. When they do, it’s very likely they win convincingly, especially because they must. Cincinnati is the better team with a better coach. The Bearcats also have history on their side and the whole nation rooting for them.

This might seem like a scary number to lay, but it’s really not. At all. In fact, it’s the right bet.

The ultimate CFB betting cheat code

Best bets for every game

Collin Wilson’s biggest weekly edges

Profitable data-driven system picks

Bulls vs. Nets Odds, Preview, Prediction: Chicago Has Value as Road Dog (December 4)

bulls vs nets-nba-odds-picks-dec-4

Bulls vs. Nets Odds

Bulls Odds +3
Nets Odds -3
Over/Under 220
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

After facing off against the Knicks on Thursday, the Chicago Bulls will stay in New York to square off against the Brooklyn Nets in an Eastern Conference showdown on Saturday night.

The Nets find themselves sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, entering the matchup as the No. 1 seed with a record of 16-6 after beating the Timberwolves on Friday night. However, the Bulls are right on their tail as the second-best team in the East with a record of 15-8.

We’ve already seen these two squads face off one time this season, a game in which Chicago outscored Brooklyn 42-17 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 118-95 victory. Can Chicago take advantage of Brooklyn’s back-to-back and put together another strong performance against them, or will we see the Nets defend their home court and even the season series?

_PromoID=[8072]

Bulls Excel On Both Ends Of Court

Last season it took the Bulls a total of 31 games to reach 15 wins. This season it has only taken them 23, which goes to show how improved this team is.

A large reason for Chicago’s success is the firepower that it has on the offensive end of the floor, which comes in the form of a two-headed monster in DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine. According to NBA.com, DeRozan is averaging 26.3 points per game while shooting 49.5% from the floor, and Lavine is averaging 25.4 points and shooting 48.8% overall. When it comes to choosing which guy to focus on, it often becomes a “pick-your-poison” situation for whoever they are playing.

That level of dominance on the offensive end has led this team to being ranked eighth overall in Offensive Rating according to NBA Advanced Stats, scoring 110.4 points per 100 possessions. It has also lead Chicago to a 3-1 record and averaging 119.75 points per game in its last four games, further proving the Bulls are a tough offense to slow down.

Not only do the Bulls put up big numbers, they have been doing it with an incredible level of efficiency. As a team, they are shooting 47.1% from the floor and 37.1% from behind the arc, both of which are in the top four of the NBA.

Chicago’s stellar play doesn’t end on offense though. The Bulls are ninth overall in Defensive Rating this season, allowing 105.7 points per 100 possessions, and are only surrendering 44.3 points per game in the paint, the ninth fewest in the NBA.

The Bulls pose a threat on both ends of the court, and they could easily give Brooklyn problems in their second meeting of the season.

The must-have app for NBA bettors

The best NBA betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Nets Enter Game As Top Seed In East

As previously mentioned, the Nets come into this matchup as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and when you begin to break down the numbers, it is easy to see why.

Kevin Durant is leading the league in scoring on a points-per-game basis with 28.6, and that high level of scoring has translated to the team as a whole. According to NBA Advanced Stats, Brooklyn is 11th overall in Offensive Rating, and as a team Brooklyn is shooting 46.8% from the floor and 37.2% from three, two metrics in which it is in the top five.

A team that has Durant and James Harden on it is going to cause problems on offense, and when you factor in the fact that Brooklyn is seventh overall in pace this season, its offense becomes even scarier as it is getting more chances to put the ball in the basket.

Joe Harris, a key part of this offense, will miss this contest due to an ankle injury, but Brooklyn is 6-2 since Harris has last played and hasn’t seemed to miss a step.

Similar to Chicago, Brooklyn backs up its offensive success with great play on defense. As a team, the Nets are only allowing their opponents to shoot 42.9% from the floor overall and 30.8% from behind the arc, both of which are in the top two in the NBA. They are also eighth overall in Defensive Rating, allowing just 105.5 points per 100 possessions.

Brooklyn is widely known for its scoring ability, but it has more than held its own on defense as well this season and has become a great two-way team.

Bulls-Nets Pick

This game is going to be filled with star power, and it will likely be a close contest until the final horn.

Brooklyn did have to play up until the final seconds against Minnesota on Friday, and I think that is going to be a factor in this one. The Nets are 1-1 against the spread this season on the back end of a back-to-back, but according to Team Rankings Brooklyn is just 3-8-1 ATS as a home favorite and 5-10 ATS after a win.

Meanwhile, Chicago has had a day of rest, is 15-8 overall against the spread this season, and is 8-4 ATS while on the road. The Bulls have already beaten Brooklyn outright once this year as was mentioned earlier, and I think they keep this game close too.

Pick: Chicago +3 (-110)

_PromoID=[10030]

2021 Hero World Challenge Round 3 Picks, Buys & Fades: Viktor Hovland Presents Value Into Moving Day

hero world challenge-round 3-viktor hovland

The second round of the Hero World Challenge saw much of the same as the first round as low scores were available throughout the course at Albany. Bryson DeChambeau led the way with an 8-under 64 to take the lead into the weekend by one shot over a group of three others. He posted 10 birdies and one double bogey in his round, as he was dialed-in through most facets of his game on Friday.

Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka will start the third round just one shot back of his lead. Morkiawa and Finau had two of the better rounds on the day with round of 6-under, to get into position for one of the final tee times on Saturday. Still, half of the field is within four shots of the lead, which keeps a number of players in the hunt going into the third round.

Let’s get right into my favorite plays for Round 3 in the Bahamas.

The must-have app for golf bettors

Custom scoreboard for your bets

Free picks from experts

Live odds for every golfer

Best Bets

Viktor Hovland +2000 BetMGM

There are a few players from further back that could be in position with a low round on Moving Day, and Viktor Hovland stands out among that bunch. He is listed at +2000, but just four shots back of the lead. All three of Hovland’s wins on TOUR have come at coastal venues, and he is set to contend once again this week in the Bahamas.

Hovland has been consistent across his first two rounds after following an opening day 68 with a 69 on Friday. He’s stumbled a few times across each round, but if he can rein in the mistakes, the Norwegian will be someone to watch on Sunday. I’ll be in on Vik to win, but also in Top 5 markets heading into Saturday’s third round.

Patrick Reed +145 over Rory McIlroy

This bet is solely on the number. We aren’t going to dive into anything lately that shows Patrick Reed as having an edge over Rory McIlroy in the third round on Saturday, but very few matchups between two elite players should have these odds. Reed has shown across the first two rounds at Albany that he has better form than what he showed to finish the fall swing, and we are getting him at +145 to beat Rory over just one round. I’ll take a chance that he keeps that form and can win the day on Saturday.

 

Rob Font vs. Jose Aldo UFC Odds, Pick & Prediction: Can Font Keep His Win Streak Alive? (Saturday, December 4)

Rob Font vs. Jose Aldo Odds

Font Odds -155
Aldo Odds +135
Over/Under 4.5 (-150 / +120)
Venue UFC APEX
Time Approx. 12:30 a.m. ET
Channel ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute UFC odds here.

The ever-improving bantamweight contender Rob Font will take on legend Jose Aldo in the headliner for this weekend’s UFC card. Aldo has reinvented himself in a smaller weight division after his brutal knockout loss to Conor McGregor in 2015.

Rob Font had only one UFC fight on his resume when Aldo fought McGregor, and after getting into MMA late in life, his skills in the sport have grown rapidly. The 34-year-old could be on the brink of a title shot, with a win over the wily vet Saturday.

So, is there betting value on the favorite to come away with a victory? Below I break down this Saturday’s main event.

_PromoID=[7892, 21, 11118, 10391]

Tale of the Tape

Font Aldo
Record 19-4 30-7
Avg. Fight Time 10:26 13:46
Height 5’8″ 5’7″
Weight (pounds) 135 lbs. 135 lbs.
Reach (inches) 71″ 70″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 6/25/87 9/9/86
Sig Strikes Per Min 5.58 3.63
SS Accuracy 43% 45%
SS Absorbed Per Min 3.57 3.59
SS Defense 61% 61%
Take Down Avg 1.20 0.55
TD Acc 40% 56%
TD Def 53% 91%
Submission Avg 0.6 0.1

In his last fight, Font easily defeated fan-favorite Cody Garbrandt. Font was levels better than him at boxing and even out grappled him late. In a strictly boxing match, Font might beat everyone in the division.

In a kickboxing affair with Aldo, low-calf kicks are going to be a cause of concern for Font. Aldo is one of the best leg-kicking fighters in UFC history. Rumor has it, he once flirted with the idea of retiring from MMA and becoming a professional soccer player.

If Font is not adept at stopping leg kicks he will really struggle to move around the cage. His goal should be to stay on the outside and pick Aldo apart at range.

Grappling shouldn’t play too much of a factor in this fight. Font had two takedowns against Garbrandt in May. Nevertheless, Aldo’s 91% takedown defense will likely thwart any takedown potential attempts from landing.

In a primarily striking matchup, Font is the rightful favorite. His volume and power combinations are weapons that Aldo does not have. Aldo’s low calf kicks are an X-factor and a route to victory, but there’s not much else there.

The must-have app for UFC bettors

The best UFC betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

Font vs. Aldo Pick

As is the case for all UFC main events, this is a five-round fight, which likely favors Font who has much more power and fluid boxing. If this fight were three rounds, I would think that Aldo could win a decision.

However, in a five-round fight Font has more skills at this point to get the job done. He could land a late TKO but I see this as much less likely.

This