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.

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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.

UFC 263 Betting Picks, Predictions: Our Best Bets for Ziam vs. Vendramini, Craig vs. Hill, More (Saturday, June 12)

ufc-263-betting-pick-prediction ziam vs vendramini craig vs hill evloev vs dawodu june-12

Is there any better way to spend a Saturday than watching 14 awesome fights at UFC 263? The promotion heads to Glendale, Ariz. for what should be the best sporting event of the weekend.

This weekend’s card features two title fights (both rematches) with Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori going head-to-head for the middleweight belt and Brandon Moreno getting a rematch with Deiveson Figueiredo for the flyweight belt.

The card begins at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN with nine bouts on the prelim card and a five-fight main card starting at 10 p.m. ET on Pay-Per-View.

So where should you be looking to place your bets? Our crew has pinpointed three fights and picks on Saturday’s massive card that present betting value.

You can find their analysis and picks on those matches below.

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Sean Zerillo: Fares Ziam vs. Luigi Vendramini

Betting Analyst, The Action Network

For a more in-depth breakdown on this fight and the entire UFC 263 card, you can find my full breakdown, including my projections for all 14 fights here.

Vendramini is the stronger man in this matchup. He should have a big grappling edge against Ziam, who struggled to defend takedowns against inferior grapplers in Jamie Mullarkey (allowed 5-of-11 takedowns attempts) and Don Madge (3-of-12).

Ziam is the better technician at range, and he’s the much taller man (+5 inches). Still, there’s a strong possibility that he gets completely exposed on the mat by Vendramini, who is very aggressive and forced a 100% finish rate in his professional fights.

projected Vendramini at 54%, and I would play his moneyline up to about -110. Furthermore, I projected his odds to win inside the distance at +165, and I would play that prop down to about +186.

The Pick: Luigi Vendramini (+105)

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Erich Richter: Movsar Evloev vs. Hakeem Dawodu

Contributor at The Action Network

Dawodu and Evloev are each on win streaks. Evloev fancies himself as a striker with strong takedowns while Dawodu is a very good defensive fighter and counter puncher.

Dawodu is quick on his feet and does a great job at the defensive aspect of striking. He also keeps his head off of the centerline pretty well. His takedown defense is also excellent at 85% — third-best in the featherweight division.

Evloev fought Nik Lentz in his last fight. That was a split decision win but it wasn’t as close as the judges made it out to be. I think Evloev is a good striker but I want to see how he does if he can’t land takedowns.

I think that Dawodu has top-tier takedown defense that he has showcased on plenty of occasions. Moreover, if Dawodu is able to stop the takedown, which he has up to this point, I think he has a chance to take control of the fight. He is a pretty sizable underdog (+195), but I think this should be closer to a pick ‘em.

Dawodu has only finished one opponent in almost four years. I wouldn’t expect a finish here either. Dawodu by decision is +460 on FanDuel, and we hit a big prop like that last week.

I think we haven’t seen the best of Dawodu yet and that Tukhugov was a legitimate victory in his young career. I would bet his decision prop down to +350

The Pick: Hakeem Dawodu via decision +460

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Billy Ward: Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill

Contributor at The Action Network

With his previous wins coming against Darko Stosic (1-3 UFC, now cut), Klidson Abreu (1-3 UFC, counting the no contest against Hill as a loss) and 38-year-old Ovince Saint Preux, the fight against Paul Craig is a major step up in competition for rising star Jamahal Hill.

Craig, who sits 14th in the light heavyweight rankings (one spot ahead of Hill at No. 15), is riding his own four-fight undefeated streak.

Hill brings to the cage some of the smoothest boxing I’ve seen in a long time. Throwing an absurd 64-plus significant strikes per round (the light heavyweight average is 38.5) and landing over 30 of them; he makes up for a lack of explosive power with volume.

Craig, on the other hand, is the archetypical grappler — 12 of his 14 wins have come by submission.

I love watching Hill (and as a side note, I’m friends with his head coach and have trained with some of his teammates), but I think this is a bad matchup for him. He was taken down six times by Darko Stosic, (neither Abreu or OSP attempted to take him down) who is a lesser grappler than Craig.

Anecdotally, the path to the top of the UFC mountain is rarely a direct one, and as we’ve seen a few times lately, up-and-coming prospects often need to take a loss before they realize their full potential.

BetMGM has given us a bit of a gift with their pricing on this one. I think Craig’s most likely method of victory given his record and the styles at play here is a submission. For some reason, BetMGM has Craig by submission at +340, while Craig by KO/TKO, DQ, or submission (meaning any of the three) is +400.

Craig by decision is +900, so by betting 0.7 units on the stoppage bet and 0.3 on the decision bet, you now are guaranteed a 2.7 unit profit (with chance at 2.8) if he wins, compared to betting Craig straight up at +250 and only profiting 2.5 units.

The Pick: Paul Craig by KO/TKO or submission (+400) 0.7 units | Craig by decision (+900) 0.3 units

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Shakur Stevenson vs. Jeremiah Nakathila Odds, Pick & Prediction: Take the Favorite to Stop the Fight (Saturday, June 12)

Stevenson vs Nakathila-odds-picks-predictions-boxing-june 12-2021

Stevenson vs. Nakathila Odds 

Stevenson odds
-5000
Nakathila odds
+1400
Over/Under
8.5 (-134/+100)
Venue
Virgin Hotels LV
Time
Approx. 10 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN
Odds as of Saturday morning and via BetMGM.

In one of the least-hyped fights in recent memory, Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs) returns to the ring to take on Jeremiah Nakathila (21-1, 17 KOs) in a battle for the vacant WBO junior lightweight interim title at the Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas.

Sandwiched in between next weekend’s lightweight bout between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos on Saturday June 19 and last weekend’s “spectacle” between Floyd Mayweather Jr and YouTube star Jake Paul, it’s easy to see why this fight would go unnoticed.

Stevenson is one of the the best up and coming fighters in the sport, ranking eighth in Ring Magazine’s top 10 junior lightweights. He’s a former WBO featherweight titleholder and 2016 Olympic Silver medalist. Nakathila is unknown to American boxing fans since he’s never fought outside his home country and was the brunt of jokes in the pre-fight press conference when Stevenson was made aware of his occupation as a police officer in Namibia.

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This is nothing more than a showcase fight for Stevenson who has his eyes set on a potential matchup with WBC junior lightweight champion Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) or WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring, who will be at ringside during the fight.

Unfortunately we’re a long way from seeing those fights. Stevenson enters this fight with no other reason than to stay active and test his skills against Nakathila and while he’s unheralded and downright obscure to most boxing fans, it’s hard to complain about seeing young up-and-coming star talent in the ring. 

Oddsmakers have installed the Stevenson as a massive favorite — anywhere from -5,000 to -10,000 — but let’s analyze the fight and see if we can find an edge to capitalize on in the betting markets. 

Fight Analysis

Shakur Stevenson Drawing Mayweather Comparisons

At the tender age of 23, Shakur Stevenson is already drawing comparisons to Floyd Mayweather and and just 15 fights into his career he appears to be developing into one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

Of course, it’s still early and Stevenson hasn’t fought top level competition so until then, there are more questions than answers. Like Mayweather, Stevenson is an Olympic medalist which requires a high level of technical skill which has stuck with him during his professional career. He’s a complete fighter who’s only getting better.

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Stevenson is 5-foot-7 with a 68-inch reach and is what Timothy Bradley refers to as an inverted South Paw as he’s naturally right handed but prefers the South Paw stance in which he leads with his power hand. Stevenson doesn’t have one punch knockout power, as he’s won by stoppage in eight of his 15 victories. Nonetheless, he’s more likely to win by the accumulation of breaking a fighter down.

Although Stevenson is getting Mayweather comparisons, I look at Stevenson in a similar vein as Andre Ward — just extremely crafty, versatile while doing the little things to win. He doesn’t have Mayweather’s athletic gifts or pop at 130. What makes Stevenson elite is his footwork, fast hands, accurate punches, ability to control distance and range, make opponents miss and neutralize an opponent’s best punch.

In his 2020 fight against Felix Caraballo, Stevenson outlanded his opponent 121 to 18, per Compubox. Stevenson is also one of the best in boxing at neutralizing a boxer’s jab. Joet Gonzalez landed just four jabs during a 12-round fight against Stevenson, according to Compubox.

Nakathila Is a Complete Mystery

Jeremiah Nakathila is an enigma to say the least. For starters, he’s never fought outside of his home country of Namibia so anyone but the most extreme American boxing fan will likely be unfamiliar with him and yet he’s the WBO’s No. 2 contender. The most interesting thing is that although he’s a tall lanky fighter standing at 5-foot-10, not even a Google search provides any details on his reach, a rarity in 2020 where nearly anything can be found on the Internet.

Nevertheless, I think that alone makes it pretty clear that Top Rank found someone to put into the ring so Stevenson can look good and show case his skills in order to stay busy.

After looking at film of Nakathila, it’s clear he has power and the aggressiveness to make it a fun and exciting fight, but he lacks both hand and foot speed while also being flat-footed. He has some size so it’s possible that it could be an issue for Stevenson as he’s adjusting in the first round but these are two fighters in different classes.

With all due respect to Nakathila, he’s never fought anyone on Stevenson’s level and you have to wonder if he will even take much time to feel Nakathila out. Nakathila is quite predictable — Stevenson should have no problems neutralizing his right hand while countering and picking him apart offensively. 

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Stevenson vs Nakathila Pick

Shakur is a rising star looking to make his imprint on the sport of boxing and get bigger fights against Oscar Valdez or Jamel Herring. You get those opportunities by putting on good shows.

He’s fighting an inexperienced fighter in Nakathila hasn’t fought outside of his home country or anyone the level of Stevenson, who is on the path to being one of the best technical fighters in the sport.

Nakathila is slow, he telegraphs his punches and he’s tailor made for Stevenson to look good on Saturday night. This has all the makings of a stoppage and around the seventh or eighth round. 

The Pick:  Shakur Stevenson by KO, TKO or DQ (-250)

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Barbora Krejcikova Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: WTA French Open Final Preview

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Barbora Krejcikova-odds-picks-predictions-wta-2021 french open-final

Pavlyuchenkova vs. Krejcikova Odds

Pavlyuchenkova Odds +108
Krejcikova Odds -129
Over/Under 21.5
Time Saturday, 9 a.m. ET
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.

Many expected a wild French Open on the women’s side in a wide open draw, and the tournament sure didn’t disappoint. For the sixth straight year, Roland Garros will deliver a first-time Grand Slam champion.

I’m not sure anybody predicted the final pair left standing in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Barbora Krejcikova. Let’s take a quick look at how each woman got here and then break down the final from a betting perspective.

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Widely considered the most accomplished player on Tour to never reach a major final, Pavs has finally broken through. The former junior phenom turned pro over 15 years ago at the age of 14 and has been ranked inside the top-50 since way back in 2008. She became the first-ever woman in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam final after playing in 50 or more main draws.

The 29-year-old has had to work to get to the final this tournament with a trio of impressive three-set wins over Victoria Azarenka, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina. She did save some of her legs on Thursday with a straight sets victory (7-5 6-3) over Tamara Zidansek. Pavs also flashed some clay form leading up to the French Open with a run to the semis in Madrid where she lost to eventual champion Sabalenka.

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Barbora Krejcikova

While Pavs has played in over 50 major championship main draws, this will mark only the fifth for Krejcikova. That doesn’t mean the Czech hasn’t been around for a while. She just enjoyed much more success in doubles, having reached world No. 1 in the WTA doubles rankings back in 2018 after winning two grand slams that calendar year. In fact, she will play in the doubles final on Sunday with a chance of becoming the first woman to win both the singles and doubles titles at the same Grand Slam since Serena did it at Wimbledon back in 2016.

Krejcikova hasn’t had sustained success on Tour in singles until the past year when she cracked the top-100 for the first time in her career. It started with a run to the fourth round at Roland Garros in late 2020 and then continued during the clay swing in 2021.

Similar to Pavs, the 25-year-old has also won a trio of three-set matches this tourney and flashed quite a bit of form leading up to Roland Garros. Krejcikova has won 11 straight matches, including her first career title in Strasbourg. And in Rome, she had a match points in a tight three-set loss to French Open favorite Iga Swiatek.

Speaking of match points, Krejcikova had to save one down 3-5 in an epic semifinals match against Maria Sakkari. The Czech also had to save five set points in the first set and a late stumble in the second against Coco Gauff in an eventual straight sets win in the quarterfinal.

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Who Will Hold Their Head?

These two right-handers are both very adept at the net and have plenty of serve confidence at the moment. While Pavlyuchenkova can bash with the best of them from the baseline, Krejcikova uses seemingly endless variety to thrive on clay.

Krejcikova may fancy the pace Pavs will give her to redirect with her limitless variety of ground strokes, slices and moon balls. That variety could become troublesome in tense moments. However, Pavs plays such a heavy ball with decent margin that could also work to her advantage here.

I could go on and on about the on-court matchup, but this will likely come down to who can control their nerves more. It does more times than not in a final between two first-time Grand Slam finalists.

So, who will hold their head? Your guess is as good as mine, but the experience edge for Pavs, who has won 12 titles on tour, has to mean something. Then again, after so much time on Tour before getting to a Slam final, does that work against her mentally?

For reference, two similar paths in the past ended in different results. In 2010, Francisco Schiavone won her first and only Grand Slam title at the French Open in her 39th career Major. However, things didn’t end as pleasantly for Roberta Vinci at the 2015 US Open in a straight sets loss to Flavia Pennetta. That was Vinci’s first and only Major final in her 44th appearance in a major draw.

Pavs looked very composed in her first-ever Grand Slam semifinals match after previously going 0-6 in the quarterfinal round. I know a final is a different animal, but she seems to be thinking clearly, serving well and playing with perfect margin.

As far as Krejcikova, she has remained cool, calm and collected throughout this tournament on many clutch points. That’s despite having a self-described panic attack before her fourth-round clash with Sloane Stephens. Do those nerves that caused her to lock herself in her physio’s office come back out ahead of her first career Grand Slam final? It wouldn’t shock me.

Fatigue could also be a factor. Both made deep runs in doubles and have endured some long matches throughout this tournament. While Pavs isn’t known for her peak fitness, she at least had a day off on Friday while Krejcikova played doubles a day after playing the second-longest match of the tourney on Thursday.

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How I’m Betting the Final

Krejcikova has had a more impressive run to the final, taking out four high-quality seeds. Her variety and ability to absorb pace could give Pavs fits if the Czech is not mentally and/or physically exhausted. Krejcikova also has a very underrated serve and hits a much heavier ball than many give her credit for, but the Russian still can control more points with her measured aggression from the baseline.

Ultimately, I think this is basically a coin-flip match, so I think the current price point of -130 on Krejcikova is too high. Plus, I actually think Pavs has a slight edge in the experience (nerves) and fitness departments, although that’s hard to quantify and sound arguments could be made to the contrary. That’s more of a subjective take, but it’s enough to push me onto a small wager on the Russian, since I do show some value from a pure odds perspective.

From a total perspective, I’d lean under in a match of two first-time Slam finalists. Nerves could turn this into a one-sided affair. For what it’s worth, since 2005, only 17 of 59 WTA Grand Slam finals have gone three sets. That said, my number is right around the current over/under, so I’m staying away there.

Bet: Pavlyuchenkova (+108)

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Denmark vs. Finland Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Danes Will Torch Finnish Defense in Euro 2020 Opener (June 12)

demark vs finalnd-euros 2021-odds-picks-betting predictions-june 12

Denmark vs. Finland Odds

Denmark Odds -240
Finland Odds +750
Draw +310
Over/Under 2.5 (+138 / -170)
Day | Time Saturday | 12 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Friday afternoon via DraftKings.

Group B kicks off on Saturday with a Scandinavian clash between who many believe to be the dark horse in the tournament in Denmark hosting Finland.

Denmark have quickly become the trendy sleeper for the Euros after an amazing performance in World Cup qualifying in late March. The Danes beat Israel, Moldova and Austria by a combined score of 14-0 and quickly moved from 80/1 to 25/1 to win the Euros. Denmark have a ton of talent on their roster and are poised to dethrone Belgium atop the group to give them a favorable draw in the knockout stage, but they need to take care of business against Finland in their opener if they are going to win Group B.

Finland are playing in their first major international tournament in the country’s history after finishing second in their qualifying group with Italy, but it’s going to be a major uphill climb. They’ll have a major task ahead of them in their first match trying to shut down a potent Danish attack.

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Denmark Have Been On Impressive Three-Year Run

You could make the argument that nobody in this tournament has been more impressive over the past three years. Denmark went unbeaten in the 2018 World Cup, Euro qualifying and World Cup qualifying. Over Euro and World Cup qualifying, the Danes averaged 2.30 xG per match, while only allowing 0.75 xG per match, which is one of the best margins coming into this tournament.

Denmark have a ton of talent in all three phases, but specifically, in their midfield and in attack, with the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Christian Eriksen, Yuusuf Poulson and Kasper Dolberg who should be able to thrash Finland’s defense, which is one of the worst in this tournament.

Denmark usually play out of a 4-3-3, which provides plenty of options going forward, and it allows teams to combine two factors: a three-man central midfield — which can hold possession via passing triangles — and three strikers, who can press high up the field. With Hojbjerg and Thomas Delany playing in a more defensive midfield role, it allows Eriksen to push forward in attack and supply the three forwards. The Danes should be able to dismantle the Finnish back line out this formation.

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Finland May Be Outmatched

Finland were able to finish second in their qualifying group behind Italy to secure their first-ever appearance at the Euros. However, it’s really hard to make a case for this Finnish team that lacks the talent to compete with all three teams in this group.

Their defense was terrible during their two World Cup qualifying matches against Bosnia and Ukraine, allowing a total of 4.04 expected goals, but their offense was actually pretty good during Euro qualifying; they averaged 1.87 xG per match and actually put 1.57 xG in their second match against Italy. They have a pretty good striker in Teemu Pukki, the main forward for Norwich who recently just got promoted to the Premier League.

Finland matches throughout Euro and World Cup qualifying were incredibly high scoring with 3.34 total xG created on average. If Finland goes down a goal in this match, I expect the match to open wide up.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I think Denmark are going to torch the Finland back line in this match given the amount of talent they have going forward in attack. Finland’s style of play should also lend itself to a ton of chances at both ends of the pitch, especially if Denmark score first.

Since I have 2.55 goals projected for this match, I think there is some good value on Over 2.5 goals at +138 (FanDuel).

Pick: Over 2.5 goals (+138)

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UFC 263 Odds, Predictions & Model Projections: Betting Analysis for All 14 Fights (Saturday, June 12)

The UFC returns to Arizona on Saturday night with a loaded 14-fight card for UFC 263 that includes a pair of title fights in the men’s middleweight and flyweight divisions, plus the first five-round non-title co-main event in UFC history.

The preliminary card will feature nine fights on ESPN at 6 p.m. ET before the five-fight PPV main card commences at 10 p.m. ET. on ESPN+.

If you are new to this piece, or this sport, note that in addition to moneylines and over/unders, there are numerous ways to bet on an MMA fight — including exact winning methods, winning round props, and whether or not the match will go to a decision or finish inside the distance.

As a result, after examining all of the betting options, your typical UFC card can offer a substantial amount of actionable value.

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UFC 263 Moneyline Projections and Picks

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for each of Saturday’s 14 bouts. In the next section, you’ll discover forecasts for those fights to finish inside of the distance or for each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission.

UFC 263 Prop Projections and Picks

In addition to creating a crowdsourced projection for moneyline plays, I also collect data on each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission — which enables us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance or for each fighter win inside of the distance.


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UFC 263 Picks and Analysis

Odds as of Saturday and via FanDuel

Early Prelims

  • ESPN
  • 6 p.m. ET

Heavyweight fight: Carlos Felipe vs. Jake Collier

Odds
Felipe odds -178
Collier odds +144
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -152/+120

Crowdsourced Projections: Felipe (61%)

Collier looked like he may not be long for the UFC in his heavyweight debut last year, losing quickly to a legitimate heavyweight prospect in Tom Aspinall.

But the former middleweight secured his first win in more than three years last December and looked quite spry for the division while racking up 123 significant strikes against an equally bloated Gian Villante.

Felipe has the ability to match Collier on volume, and I would give him the edge in cardio. Still, he doesn’t necessarily have the type of big knockout power for the division that should justify his status as a significant favorite.

I don’t see value on any side, total, or prop for this fight, so it’s an easy pass; but my initial read was Collier by decision, and I would typically lean to the underdog side in a heavyweight fight priced in this manner.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Lightweight fight: Fares Ziam vs. Luigi Vendramini

Odds
Ziam odds -120
Vendramini odds +102
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -192/+150

Crowdsourced Projections: Vendramini (54%)

Fighters who have a good showing on short notice against an established UFC veteran often go on to have strong runs in the promotion, and Vendramini’s debut at 170 pounds against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos fit firmly into that category.

“The Italian Stallion” displayed adept grappling skills before succumbing to a flying knee in the second round, and he returned as an improved fighter last October, back down at lightweight, scoring a quick knockout over Jessin Ayari.

Vendramini is the stronger man in this matchup. He should have a big grappling edge against Ziam, who struggled to defend takedowns against inferior grapplers in Jamie Mullarkey (allowed 5-of-11 takedowns attempts) and Don Madge (3 of 12).

Ziam is the better technician at range, and he’s the much taller man (+5 inches). Still, there’s a strong possibility that he gets completely exposed on the mat by Vendramini, who is very aggressive and forced a 100% finish rate in his professional fights.

I projected Vendramini at 54%, and I would play his moneyline up to about -110. Furthermore, I projected his odds to win inside the distance at +165, and I would play that prop down to about +186.

Bets: 

  • Luigi Vendramini (+116, 1 unit) | Luigi Vendramini wins Inside the Distance (+210, 0.25u)

Featherweight fight: Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson

Odds
Hooper odds -110
Peterson odds -106
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -112/-112

Crowdsourced Projections: Peterson (60%)

Peterson was the only fighter to miss weight on Friday, coming in 2.5 pounds over the featherweight limit. This is his first time back in the octagon since September 2019.

Hooper has gone 2-1 since that time but pulled a win out of the jaws of defeat with his third-round submission against Peter Barrett last December. He had lost both rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards and was two minutes away from receiving his second professional loss.

Unfortunately, I already bet Peterson before the weight miss, but I do think that he’s the right side in this fight. Hooper is a one-dimensional jiu-jitsu practitioner who may not even have the grappling advantage here.

His striking is still very raw, and his wrestling (7% takedown accuracy) is unlikely to ground most opponents. He’s content to pull guard when all else fails.

Peterson has never been submitted in 27 professional fights — and Hooper doesn’t seem likely to win minutes on the feet or to be able to take the fight to the ground (75% takedown defense for Peterson).

Peterson is very hittable — something which Hooper won’t take advantage of — and he figures to eat jabs himself for the duration of the fight.

Unless Peterson is totally shot from a poor weight cut, or if his body has failed him after an extended layoff and multiple injuries, I think this is his fight to lose.

But for the weight miss, I’d be adding on to my position — but I’m content to let it ride and would still recommend a half-unit play on Peterson up to -133.

Peterson by decision (projected +205, listed +200) and by KO/TKO (projected +320, listed +325) both align with my projections. Still, I don’t see enough value in either bet to make a play — and while Hooper has proven to be durable, he also reacts very poorly to strikes.

Bets: 

  • Steven Peterson (-120, Risk 1u)

Lightweight fight: Matt Frevola vs. Terrance McKinney

Odds
Frevola odds -220
McKinney odds +184
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -142/+112

Crowdsourced Projections: Frevola (69%)

McKinney is a late notice debutant, replacing Frank Camacho, and historically speaking, late-notice replacements win 36% of the time, while debutants win around 38% of the time against octagon veterans.

McKinney is an aggressive fighter who has never gone the distance in 13 professional fights, but it’s also difficult to get a read on his true skill level since 11 of those fights ended in the first round.

Frevola is the type of fighter who digs in with his cardio and eventually takes over against a typical opponent, so the longer this fight extends, the more it should play towards the favorite.

In fact, I would expect McKinney to try to empty the tank early after winning a fight last week in LFA.

I’m tempted to take the value on this fight to go the distance (projected +180, listed +130), but I don’t know enough about McKinney’s cardio late in a fight; he might fall completely off of a cliff once he tastes the third round.

Additionally, there’s value on Frevola to win by decision (projected +165, listed +235), but I’m hesitant to play that prop for the same reasons.

Conversely, McKinney by KO/TKO (projected +329, listed +325) doesn’t seem like a bad bet — it’s just not one that I’m capable of recommending based upon value.

For now, I’m going to wait for more books to open up their prop markets on this fight, but I’m leaning towards a pass here.

Bets: 

  • TBD

Women’s Bantamweight fight: Pannie Kianzad vs. Alexis Davis

Odds
Kianzad odds -215
Davis odds +180
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -400/+280

Crowdsourced Projections: Kianzad (67%)

Davis looked sharp after returning from an extended layoff in February, scoring a clean 30-27 decision over Sabina Mazo. She’ll look to make it two in a row with a win-over volume striker Pannie Kianzad, who will look to avoid stepping into Davis’ leg kicks and try to stuff her takedowns (83% takedown defense).

Davis has a knack for keeping fights close. She has a high fight IQ and knows how to finish off rounds.

If Davis can get this fight to the ground, she has a path to victory — but if Pannie can keep the fight standing, then she’ll likely work off of her jab and bust up Davis’ face for 15 minutes.

This likely plays out as a closer fight than the odds would suggest and seems like another fight on this card that I would expect to be 1-1 heading into Round 3.

As a result, the moneyline value would appear on Davis’ side, even though I think the line is about right.

There’s just about fair value on both fighters to win by decision (projected -132, listed -135 for Kianzad; projected +332, listed +325 for Davis) but I couldn’t recommend either play.

There is actionable value in this fight to go the distance (projected -401, listed -325), and I would use the over 2.5 rounds or distance prop (up to -350) as a parlay piece.

Bets: 

  • Use Over 2.5 rounds (up to -350) as a parlay piece

Check out our free UFC odds page, which automatically surfaces the best moneyline and round total odds for every fight.


Preliminary Card

  • ESPN
  • 8 p.m. ET

Featherweight fight: Movsar Evloev vs. Hakeem Dawodu

Odds
Evloev odds -250
Dawodu odds +198
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -235/+180

Crowdsourced Projections: Evloev (64%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

Dawodu certainly has the tools to win this fight. However, Evloev is just a more well-rounded fighter and has more ways to win minutes inside the cage.

Given his point-fighting nature, it’s difficult to justify Evloev as a significant favorite every time out (closed at least -200 in each UFC fight). He won as a -723 favorite in his last fight against Nik Lentz, but only by a split decision — that shouldn’t happen.

And Dawodu has the tools to keep this fight close.

I wouldn’t use Evloev as a parlay piece, but I show value on his decision prop (projected -122, listed -106) up to -110.

Furthermore, I show value on either the over or the fight to go the distance prop (projected -374, listed -244), and I would use either of those as a parlay piece up to -300.

Bets: 

  • Movsar Evoloev wins by Decision (+110, 0.5u)
  • Use Over 2.5 rounds (up to -325) as a parlay piece

Women’s Flyweight fight: Lauren Murphy vs. Joanne Calderwood

Odds
Murphy odds +116
Calderwood odds -136
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -430/+300

Crowdsourced Projections: Calderwood (61%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

Murphy has the size and strength advantages as a natural bantamweight since Calderwood used to compete at strawweight. She will try to impose her physicality on her faster and more technical opponent.

The fight probably swings on Calderwood’s takedown defense (58%) and her willingness to fight off of her back.

I liked the Calderwood side closer to a pick’em, but I cannot recommend a play at the current price.

And while I show slight value on Calderwood’s decision prop (projected +107, listed +114), there’s not enough value there to make a play. Furthermore, I think you may fall short to a weird split decision — on either side of this fight — where the judges get stuck choosing between striking volume for Calderwood and control time for Murphy for one or two rounds.

I think there’s value on the over and/or the fight to go the distance prop, which I projected at -390. I would include that as one leg of a small (half unit) parlay.

Bets: 

  • Use Over 2.5 rounds (up to -350) as a parlay piece

Light Heavyweight fight: Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart

Odds
Anders odds -158
Stewart odds +128
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -154/+120

Crowdsourced Projections: Anders (61%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

Stewart closed as a -190 favorite (implied 65.5%) for the first fight and has climbed as high +120 (implied 45.5%) for the rematch. On principle, it seems like he might be on the value side this time around — but I’m not sure if that’s the case.

Going into the first matchup, it appeared that Stewart might have the edge both in terms of grappling upside and striking volume.

However, Anders was actively pressuring Stewart and fighting much more aggressively after moving his camp to Fight Ready MMA. He finally looked to have made improvements to his overall game.

Considering that Stewart didn’t appear to have any of the advantages presupposed the first time around, I’m not surprised to see Anders come back as the favorite in this spot.

I project slight value on Anders to win this fight inside the distance (projected +178, listed +200). Still, because I projected Stewart as a large favorite (67%) in the first fight and bet him to win by decision (at +130), I’m hard-pressed to flip my opinion on this matchup completely.

I think there’s value on Anders to finish the fight (legally) this time — but I’m going to pass on this fight altogether, given the odds history of this matchup.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Lightweight fight: Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell

Odds
Dober odds -150
Riddell odds +122
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -182/+142

Crowdsourced Projections: Dober (60%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

Riddell (+1.74 strike differential; 103% combined striking accuracy and defense) is a more efficient striker than Dober (+0.46; 94% combined accuracy and defense), but this fight seems likely to play out in a way that could be both very close and difficult to score.

I’m expecting to see a 15-minute war that contends for Fight of the Night and raises the stock of both lightweights in the eyes of fans.

I projected slight value on the over and/or fight goes the distance prop for this fight (projected -170, listed -150), and I considered making a play at current odds.

However, I also spotted some value on Riddell to win by decision (projected +235, listed +250), and I ended up debating between those two plays.

Although there’s less projected value on Riddell’s decision prop than betting the fight to go the distance, I do see Dober as the man who is much more likely to finish. I’m happy to take Riddell at a higher price (and with reduced risk) when he has a solid path to a volume-based decision on the feet.

I wouldn’t fault you for playing the over 2.5 rounds, or the fight goes to decision prop, but this sets up as a potential slugfest, and I don’t want too much exposure to this fight.

Bets: 

  • Brad Riddell wins by Decision (+250, 0.25u)

_BookPromo=299

Main Card

  • ESPN PPV
  • 10 p.m. ET

Light Heavyweight fight: Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill

Odds
Craig odds +235
Hill odds -290
Over/Under 1.5 rounds -124/-102

Crowdsourced Projections: Hill (72%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

I show value on this fight to end inside the distance (projected -606, listed -304), Hill to win by KO/TKO (projected -157, listed -125), and Hill to win inside the distance (projected -184, listed -139.)

Alternatively, I considered betting on the under 1.5 rounds or on Hill to win in Round 1 (+210).

I ultimately landed on HIll’s inside the distance prop, which I would bet to -165; I don’t want to bet against the clock in this fight.

Bets: 

  • Jamahal Hill wins Inside the Distance (-140, 0.5u)

Welterweight Fight: Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad

Odds
Maia odds +184
Muhammad odds -230
Over/Under 2.5 rounds -168/+132

Crowdsourced Projections: Muhammad (70%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

If Maia can’t find a way to get this fight to the mat, he’s going to be in trouble. And even if Maia survives on the feet, Belal should rack up enough volume to decisively pull away on the scorecards. Moreover, if Maia gets this fight to the ground, then Belal is likely a competent enough jiu-jitsu player to survive until the end of the round.

As a result, Belal is the likely winner, but we still haven’t seen him against this level of a grappler.

I don’t see any value regarding the moneyline or total for this fight. I show slight value on Maia’s submission prop (projected +341, listed +400), but not enough value to make it a play — particularly since I think Belal can survive on his back.

Bets: 

  • Pass

Welterweight fight: Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz

Odds
Edwards odds -590
Diaz odds +410
Over/Under 4.5 rounds -108/-118

Crowdsourced Projections: Edwards (83%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

Even though this isn’t a title fight, this is still a five-round bout.

In addition to his cardio, Diaz has displayed legendary durability during his remarkable UFC run.

All those memorable scraps bring many fans — particularly the type of fans who will throw some money on you as a 4-1 underdog. I’ll never talk you off of any big underdog in any fight, but I think Diaz is fairly obviously the “public dog of the week.”

I show value both in the fight to go the distance and on Edwards to win by decision.

You could play the over 4.5 or bet the fight to go the distance at plus money compared to my projection at 53%, or -113. However, I prefer the value on Edwards to win by decision (projected +115) down to +130.

Bets: 

  • Leon Edwards wins by Decision (+160, 0.5u)

Flyweight fight: Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno

Odds
Figueiredo odds -210
Moreno odds +176
Over/Under 3.5 rounds -108/-118

Crowdsourced Projections: Figueiredo (65%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out the full fight preview from my colleague Erich Richter.

Figueiredo is an outlier at 125 pounds, looking more like a lightweight at fight time — but cutting all of that weight caused him to spend the night in the hospital before the first fight. He seemed to have a difficult weight cut yet again and was the last fighter on the scales on Friday — but he did meet the flyweight limit.


Moreno is the type of fighter who weaponizes his cardio and durability. I think there might be a solid live betting opportunity on Moreno, given Figueiredo’s propensity to fade late in fights.

He’s the more skilled man in all aspects of MMA and the stronger man too, but that weight cut takes a lot out of him, and “Deus de Guerra” typically searches for the early kill, which can leave him gassed in the later rounds.

If he has more respect for Moreno’s durability, relative to their first fight, perhaps Figueiredo comes out more measured to save himself for 25 minutes of action – but changing his fighting style may ultimately be to his detriment since Moreno is capable of winning on pure volume (only trailed 132-137 on significant strikes in their first fight)

I see slight value on Figueiredo to win by decision (projected +292, listed +340), and I would sprinkle that at +300 or better. Still, I’m mostly looking to get plus money on both sides and buy Moreno live after Round 1 or Round 2 around the same price.

Bets: 

  • Deiveson Figueiredo wins by Decision (+300, 0.25u)
  • Live Bet Brandon Moreno after Round 1 and/or Round 2

Middleweight fight: Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori

Odds
Adesanya odds -255
Vettori odds +210
Over/Under 3.5 rounds -174/+136

Crowdsourced Projections: Adesanya (61%)

If you want additional analysis, including a full statistical breakdown for this fight, make sure to check out my full fight preview.

projected Marvin Vettori as a 39% underdog, and I think there’s value on his moneyline down to about +175, at just more than a 2.5% betting edge.

Furthermore, I projected his decision prop at +293, and I think there’s value on Vettori to win by decision at +345 or better.

He has the correct style to upend Adesanya — with the ability to throw more volume on the feet and to keep the champion on his back if he’s able to use his wrestling effectively.

However, Vettori is also a bullheaded fighter who pressures forward with wanton disregard for his own safety. As a result, there’s a strong probability that Adesanya intercepts him with a big counter at some point, particularly late if Vettori is tiring from consistent early wrestling.

That being said, Vettori has made the more significant improvements as a fighter since the first matchup between this pair and considering that you’re getting a better price than the first matchup (+200) to back the Italian, I think he’s absolutely the value side.

Bets: 

  • Marvin Vettori (+225, 1u)
  • Marvin Vettori wins by Decision (+350, 0.25u)

_BookPromo=1119

Zerillo’s UFC 263 Betting Card

Distance or Decision Props and Totals

  • Movsar Evloev wins by Decision (+100, 0.5 units)
  • Brad Riddell wins by Decision (+250, 0.25u)
  • Leon Edwards wins by Decision (+160, 0.5u)
  • Deiveson Figueiredo wins by Decision (+300, 0.25u)
  • Marvin Vettori wins by Decision (+350, 0.25u)

Inside the Distance Props

  • Luigi Vendramini wins Inside the Distance (+210, 0.25u)
  • Jamahal Hill wins Inside the Distance (-140, 0.5u)

Moneylines

  • Luigi Vendramini (+105, 1u)
  • Steven Peterson (-120, Risk 1u)
  • Marvin Vettori (+225, 1u)

Parlays

  • Three-Leg Parlay (+131, 0.5u)
    • Davis vs. Kianzad, Over 2.5 Rounds (-350)
    • Dawodu vs. Evloev, Over 2.5 Rounds (-255)
    • Calderwood vs. Murphy, Over 2.5 Rounds (-350)

Live Betting Notes

  • Live Bet Brandon Moreno after Round 1 and/or Round 2

Don’t forget to follow my picks in the Action Network App.

Wales vs. Switzerland Odds, Picks, Betting Predictions: Back the Swiss at Plus-Money in Euro 2020 Opener (June 12)

wales vs. switzerland-odds-picks-predictions-betting-euro 2020-june 12

Wales vs. Switzerland Odds

Wales Odds +320
Switzerland Odds +110
Draw +205
Over/Under 1.5 (-180 / +148)
Day | Time Saturday | 9 a.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Friday evening via DraftKings.

Things get started bright and early Saturday at the 2020 Euros, with Switzerland taking on Wales at Baki Olimpiya Stadionu in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The Swiss, who have only advanced out of the group stage of this tournament once in four tries, hope they can continue a red-hot patch of form in their opener. They’ve won all five of their matches in 2021 across all competitions, including a 2-1 victory over the United States in a May 30 friendly.

In contrast, Wales has been anything but spectacular entering this Group A showdown. The Welsh have just two wins in their last five outings, which includes a 3-0 shutout defeat against tournament favorite France and a disappointing scoreless draw with Albania less than a week ago.

This should be a cagey affair between nations who are difficult to break down, so let’s see where the betting value sits entering this meeting.

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Wales Hoping to Find Similar Magic From 2016 Miracle Run

The Welsh enter this showcase in pretty poor form, having suffered back-to-back friendly shutouts against the French and Albanians. I totally understand getting steamrolled by France, but when you’re sitting 17th in the latest FIFA rankings and get blanked by the 66th-ranked country, that’s a problem.

Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) leads Wales, but his finest moments might have come and gone. Suffice it to say, if the Welsh are going to have any chance of getting out of a quartet that also features powerful Italy and Turkey, it’s going to need at least a point from this affair.

Wales did enjoy a historic, memorable run to the semifinals of the 2016 edition of this event, so it knows how to make the magic happen on the biggest stage. Unfortunately, that was five years ago, and this group hasn’t gotten any younger to say the least.

If you’re wondering what kind of tactical approach manager Ryan Giggs might implement against Switzerland, Wales played a 4-2-2-2 formation against France and Albania. My feeling is we could see Giggs tweak things a tad and switch to 3-4-3 or — more realistically — a 4-2-3-1 for the opener.

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Switzerland Not Sneaking Up On Anyone

If you thought the Swiss were flying under the radar entering this competition, you’re completely wrong in that assessment. Fans and soccer analysts alike have targeted this experienced, talented side as one of those nations capable of doing some serious damage at long odds in this 24-team field.

Sure, Switzerland is going to have to deal with fellow Group A combatant Italy — an impressive 3-0 winner against Turkey in Friday’s opening match — but a runner-up or even third-place finish is all it needs to reach the knockout round for just the second time in its history.

As previously mentioned, the Swiss have been on point of late during its current win streak. Prior to those victories, they put together some solid performances against Spain (win and draw) and Germany (two draws) to prove they can more than hang with the better countries in the world.

Sitting 13th in the FIFA rankings, Switzerland is led by winger Xhedran Shaqiri (Liverpool) and striker Breel Embolo of Bundesliga outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach. Manager Vladimir Petković usually sends out his squad in a  3-4-3 formation, with the hope of controlling the middle of the pitch, so I don’t see him straying much from that look.

Needless to say, that tactical approach seems to be working for the Swiss. They looked fantastic in their June 3 friendly against lowly Liechtenstein, which resulted in a 7-0 blowout victory. Veteran Mario Gavranović was especially good, recording a hat trick in his quest to secure a starting role.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Switzerland continues to see its moneyline odds drop leading up to this match. And honestly, this number will probably wind up closer to +100 prior to kickoff. The Swiss have a legitimate shot to do some damage in this tournament, so picking up a big win against the Welsh would be an ideal start.

For that reason, I’m going to ride one of the field’s dark horses and back Switzerland  at+110 odds via DraftKings as my top pick. The Swiss just have too many players that can wreak havoc on this Welsh defense, so I will take my chances with them to pull out the low-scoring triumph.

Pick: Switzerland ML (+110)

_BookPromo=1020

Movsar Evloev vs. Hakeem Dawodu Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: Can the Russian Remain Undefeated? (Saturday, June 12)

movsar evloev vs hakeem dawodu odds-picks-predictions-ufc-263-betting-preview-june-12

Movsar Evloev vs. Hakeem Dawodu Odds

Evloev Odds
-240
Dawodu Odds
+185
Over/Under
2.5 (-264 / +195)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 8 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.

This is a high-level undercard matchup between No. 14 Featherweight contender Movsar Evloev and No. 15 Hakeem Dawodu, one of whom could challenge the 145-pound title within the next few years.

Evloev is one of my favorite prospects in the UFC, and I’m curious to see his career trajectory since he’s likely a better fit at 135 — which is a much more loaded division at present.

Below I preview the matchup and odds for Saturday’s fight. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.

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Tale of the Tape

Evloev Dawodu
Record 14-0 12-1-1
Avg. Fight Time 15:00 12:28
Height 5’7″ 5’8″
Weight (pounds) 145 lbs. 145 lbs.
Reach (inches) 72″ 72″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 2/11/94 7/2/91
Sig Strikes Per Min 4.70 5.15
SS Accuracy 44% 47%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.83 2.31
SS Defense 64% 63%
Take Down Avg. 2.75 0.00
TD Acc 37% 0%
TD Def 70% 85%
Submission Avg 0.0 0.0

_BookPromo=299

Evloev is a bit undersized for 145, but he’s very crafty and quickly caught my eye after defending the M-1 title multiple times with his smooth, versatile style.

He’s not the best wrestler, but he mixes in takedowns effectively with his striking and fights behind a good jab and solid footwork.

Dawodu has shown strong takedown defense, and I expect that we largely get a striking battle between these two, with Dawodu landing the heavier shots and Evloev sticking and moving his way around the cage.

Evloev doesn’t necessarily need to land takedowns to control the pace — he’s effective in the clinch despite being undersized at 145 and possesses a high-level fight IQ.

Dawodu certainly has the tools to win this fight. However, Evloev is just a more well-rounded fighter and has more ways to win minutes inside the cage.

His timing and movement could serve to frustrate Dawodu for the duration. Still, Evloev also seems to do just enough to secure most rounds, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a tight 1-1 going into Round 3.

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Evloev vs. Dawodu Pick

Given his point-fighting nature, it’s difficult to justify Evloev as a significant favorite every time out (closed at least -200 in each UFC fight). He won as a -723 favorite in his last fight against Nik Lentz, but only by a split decision — that shouldn’t happen.

And Dawodu has the tools to keep this fight close.

I wouldn’t use Evloev as a parlay piece, but I show value on his decision prop (projected -122, listed -106) up to -110.

Furthermore, I show value on either the over or the fight to go the distance prop (projected -374, listed -244), and I would use those as a parlay piece up to -300.

The Pick: Movsar Evloev wins by Decision (-106, 0.5 units) | Use Over 2.5 (-264) as a Parlay Piece

_BookPromo=1119

Royals vs. Athletics Odds, Preview, Prediction: Should Oakland Be Favored at Home? (Saturday, June 12)

kansas city royals vs oakland athletics-mlb-odds-bets-picks-june-12

Royals vs. Athletics Odds

Royals Odds +138
Athletics Odds -164
Over/Under 8.5
Time 4:07 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel.

The Oakland Athletics are in first place in the AL West with a 37-27 record. Currently, the A’s are on track to win 94 games. However, with Oakland there is a catch (no pun intended).

The Athletics have a run differential of only +12, which means that they only win each game by an average of .19 runs. Currently Oakland has a Pythagorean record of 33-31, meaning that they are basically a .500 level team.

Visiting Oakland this weekend are the Kansas City Royals. Entering the season, Kansas City was expected to be a bottom feeder, but they have played decently in the first third of the season. The Royals have a 30-31 record, a handful of decent starting pitchers and a decent starting lineup.

For Saturday’s matinee, both teams are relying on rookie starting pitchers: James Kaprielian for the A’s and Jackson Kowar for the Royals. In Kowar’s first start he pitched for less than an inning and did terribly.

The question for Saturday is if Kowar can bounce back from his last start.

_BookPromo=24


Royals Need Improvement From Former Top Prospect

What makes Saturday’s game hard to predict is the fact that the Royals are relying on rookie starting pitcher Jackson Kowar. In his MLB debut earlier this week against an LA Angels team missing Mike Trout, he pitched for less than an inning and allowed four earned runs, three hits and two walks. Obviously if Kowar pitches that poorly, Kansas City will lose, but there is little data to use to project Kowar’s performance.

Before being called up this week from Triple-A, the former first-round draft pick had six Triple-A starts. In those starts with the Omaha Storm Chasers, Kowar had a 5-0 record with a 0.85 ERA. Before making his debut, Kowar was rated as the Royals’ best prospect.

While some starters making their MLB debut are only called up because of necessity, it was clear that the Royals were promoting Kowar because of his ability rather than just necessity. Going forward Kowar should perform decently for the remainder of the season.

Backing up Kowar is a decent Royals lineup. With the average MLB team scoring 4.39 runs per game this season, Kansas City’s lineup is averaging 4.33. With players having good seasons such as 2B/OF Whit Merrifield, OF Andrew Benintendi, DH Carlos Santana and C Salvador Perez, the Royals have a lineup that should help them as underdogs in many games this season. Particularly if OF Jorge Soler reverts to his 2020 form.

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Athletics Have Just Been Average At The Plate

Opposing Jackson Kowar and the Royals is another rookie starting pitcher in James Kaprielian for the Oakland Athletics. In five starts Kaprielian has a 2-1 record with a 3.08 ERA. However, Kaprielian also has a 4.93 xFIP. One of the reasons why Oakland is favored has to do with Kaprielian’s low ERA, but he is likely to regress to the mean as the season goes on.

Backing up Kaprielian is an A’s lineup that is averaging only 4.3 runs per game. Outside of 1B Matt Olson and OF Mark Canha, none of the A’s hitters are having exceptional seasons. 3B Matt Chapman, who in the past has been a reliable player, only has a .201 batting average, five home runs and a 85 wRC+ over 63 games.

Royals-Athletics Pick

Both the Royals and the Athletics are evenly matched for Saturday’s game. They both have decent lineups and unreliable rookie starting pitchers.

As a large underdog I am attracted to the Royals because I believe that the A’s odds are inflated based on their record. I like Kansas City at +138, and I would bet them up to +125

Pick: Kansas City Royals Moneyline +138 | Would bet up to +125.

_BookPromo=351

Yankees vs. Phillies Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back Yankees to Grab Crucial Road Win (Saturday, June 12)

major league baseball-betting-odds-picks=-preview-new york yankees-jameson taillon-saturday-june 12

Yankees vs. Phillies Odds

Yankees Odds -129
Phillies Odds +112
Over/Under 9.5
Time 4:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Friday night via DraftKings.

After taking a series from the Minnesota Twins, the New York Yankees are hoping to get back on track this weekend in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the Phillies have won their last two series — both at home — against National League East opponents.

These two offenses are questionable, but both starting pitchers have massive red flags as well. Hence, that’s why the total is currently sitting at 9.5 runs.

So, which questionable pitcher/lineup combination will get the job done in Saturday’s series opener? Let’s dive into where the value lies.

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Things Not Looking Good For Stumbling Yankees

What is going on in the Bronx?

The Yankees, who have dropped six of their last 10 games, have recently gotten swept by the Boston Red Sox and the dreadful Detroit Tigers. The Yankees now find themselves six games out of the AL East, holding a run differential of just +1 as well.

While it’s looked mostly pathetic, the Yankees’ offense has been just mediocre during this recent stretch. The Yankee lineup ranks 15th in the league in OPS (.726), wOBA (.316) and wRC+ (102) over the past two weeks.

Giancarlo Stanton has looked downright awful of late, most recently going through a 2-for-24 stretch where he recorded 12 strikeouts to just four walks. However, he went 6 for 15 with three home runs in the Twins series, and his Statcast numbers suggest he should start performing just fine.

Starting pitcher — Jameson Taillon (RHP)

Taillon has had his fair share of poor luck. He sports a 5.09 ERA and a 4.43 FIP, but also holds a 3.71 xERA and a 4.35 xFIP this season. Additionally, his xwOBA is more than 20 points lower than his wOBA, and he’s on pace to post the highest strikeout rate of his career.

Taillon is due for some positive regression. But the question is: How much?

Taillon has still posted a measly 34.9% ground-ball rate, combined with an absurdly high 20.7 degree average launch angle. He also ranks in the bottom quarter of qualified pitchers in both average exit velocity (90.3 mph) and hard-hit percentage (42.3%). So, he’s allowing a lot of hard-hit fly balls, which is a bad combination.

Either way, his most recent stretch has been brutal. He’s posted a 5.18 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP while pitching just 24 1/3 innings over his past five starts. The Yankees lost three of those games.

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Recent Stretch of Solid Efforts Have Phillies in Mix

The Phillies are in the middle of a long home stand, so naturally they’ve been winning games.

Over their last six contests, the Phillies took two of three from the Washington Nationals and then two of three from the Atlanta Braves. That upped Philadelphia’s home record to 19-12 and kept it alive in the division race.

The offense has been lackluster all-around for Philadelphia, but the pitching has made the difference at Citizens Bank. The Phillies’ staff ranks 10th in home FIP (3.74), but 22nd in away FIP (4.47), although their road xFIP is a bit lower (4.22) this season.

Odubel Herrera has been getting it done for the Phillies recently, as he’s batting .333 with a .975 OPS over his last 10 games.

Starting pitcher — Vince Velasquez (RHP)

Velasquez has been very frustrating.

All season, his advanced statistics have suggested a lot of negative regression. He ranks among the bottom 10% of qualified pitchers in things like barrel percentage (11.8%), hard-hit percentage (46.8%), walk rate (13.8%) and average exit velocity (91.8 mph).

Yet, he had a five-game stretch in May when he allowed just three runs in 24 1/3 innings (1.11 ERA), while striking out 27 batters. Additionally, he posted a WHIP under 1.00 and an OPS under .550 during that stretch.

However, it looks like the regression train has finally pulled into the Velasquez station. In his last two starts against the Cincinnati Reds and the Nationals, Velasquez allowed nine runs on nine hits through seven innings. He struck out seven in the process, but also walked four hitters.

Needless to say, I’m ready for more of these outings from Velasquez.

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Yankees-Phillies Pick

These are two heavy fastball pitchers, as both Taillon and Velasquez throw their four-seamers around half the time. Both have had success and failure with their fastballs this season.

However, this matchup favors Taillon.

As mentioned, Taillon is due for some positive regression and that rings true for his fastball as well. He’s posted a .326 wOBA, but a .291 xwOBA on the pitch so far this season. This is a great spot for some fastball regression, as the Phillies rank 27th in MLB in weighted fastball runs created (-10.1) overall.

The Yankees aren’t much better against the fastball, as their 3.3 weighted fastball runs created ranks just 17th in baseball. However, Velasquez cannot continue to get away with his absurdly poor advanced metrics and I fully believe he’s due for more poor starts.

Both the bullpens have been poor lately, but New York still has the most talented relief staff in baseball. If the game is decided in the later innings, I’d rather bet on Aroldis Chapman than Hector Neris (no offense to Neris).

Therefore, I’m looking to play the Yankees as medium-to-short road favorites. I bet New York at -125 at William Hill on Friday, but I’d take them  to -140 odds.

Pick: Yankees ML (-129 — play to -140)

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Lauren Murphy vs. Joanne Calderwood Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: How to Bet This Pricey Total (Saturday, June 12)

lauren murphy vs joanne calderwood odds-picks-predictions-ufc-263-betting-preview-june-12

Lauren Murphy vs. Joanne Calderwood Odds

Murphy Odds
+115
Calderwood Odds
-145
Over/Under
2.5 (-417 / +290)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 8:30 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.

A future flyweight title challenger could emerge from this undercard scrap between No. 3 contender Lauren Murphy and No. 6 ranked Joanne Calderwood. 

Murphy, an Alaska FC product and former Invicta champion enters on a four-fight winning streak and is experiencing her first sustained run of success in the Octagon. At the same time, the Scottish Calderwood has traded wins and losses against top competition in her past four bouts, amidst a 4-2 record after returning to Flyweight in 2018.

This is an interesting clash of size and styles in the 125-pound division and should make a mark as a major turning point in the career of one of these two fighters.

Below I preview the matchup and odds for Saturday’s fight. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.

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Tale of the Tape

Murphy Calderwood
Record 14-4 15-5
Avg. Fight Time 14:01 11:07
Height 5’5″ 5’6″
Weight (pounds) 125 lbs. 125 lbs.
Reach (inches) 67″ 65″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 7/27/83 12/23/85
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.80 6.59
SS Accuracy 38% 49%
SS Absorbed Per Min 3.82 4.40
SS Defense 63% 53%
Take Down Avg 1.18 1.80
TD Acc 37% 55%
TD Def 70% 58%
Submission Avg 0.1 0.5

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Murphy has the size and strength advantage as a natural bantamweight since Calderwood used to compete at strawweight. She will try to impose her physicality on her faster and more technical opponent.

Calderwood throws a barrage of volume, as you can tell from the striking stats above, and in divisions where finish rates are relatively low, volume tends to rule the scorecards.

While Murphy has the reach advantage, Calderwood will try to frustrate her with movement and kicks up the middle, and she’s effective at wearing down her opponents with elbows and body shots off of clinch breaks. I don’t see Murphy having as much success with more of a straightforward boxing attack (-0.02 to +2.19 in significant strike differential), but she will carry more power.

The fight probably swings on Calderwood’s takedown defense (58%) and her willingness to fight off of her back.

Murphy has not landed more than two takedowns in a UFC fight, but Calderwood has also shown a willingness to accept guard in certain spots – and I’d be worried that she may let at least one round slip away on control time.

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Murphy vs. Calderwood Pick

I liked the Calderwood side closer to a pick’em, but I cannot recommend a play at the current price.

And while I show slight value on Calderwood’s decision prop (projected +107, listed +114), there’s not enough value there to make a play. Furthermore, I think you may fall short to a weird split decision – on either side of this fight – where the judges get stuck choosing between striking volume for Calderwood and control time for Murphy for one or two rounds.

I think there’s value on the over and/or the fight to go the distance prop, which I projected at -390. I would include that as one leg of a small (half unit) parlay.

The Pick:  Use over 2.5 rounds (up to -350) as a Parlay Piece

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Jazz vs. Clippers Odds, Game 3 Preview, Prediction: How to Back Los Angeles in Staples Center (Saturday, June 12)

utah jazz vs los angeles clippers-nba-game-3-odds-bets-picks-june-12

Jazz vs. Clippers Game 3 Odds

Jazz Odds +4.5
Clippers Odds -4.5
Moneyline -130/ +110
Over/Under 224.5
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings.

Is there trouble in paradise?

For the second consecutive playoff series, the Los Angeles Clippers find themselves facing an 0-2 deficit after their 117-111 loss in Game 2 on Thursday night. This time they’ll have the advantage of the home crowd behind them as they return home to the Staples Center for Games 3 and 4.

While the Clippers were able to overcome an 0-2 deficit against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, Donovan Mitchell and top-seeded Utah Jazz are a much steeper and challenging test.

Unfortunately history doesn’t favor the Clippers, as no team has overcome multiple 0-2 deficits in the same postseason. If there’s any team who is capable, it’s a team with a two-time NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard, along with Tyron Lue who coached the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers when they came back from a 3-1 deficit against the the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.

Nonetheless, oddsmakers have installed the Clippers as 4.5-point home favorites with a total of 223.5 against the Jazz in Game 3 as they look to fight their way back into this series.

As we’ve seen throughout the playoffs the past few seasons, there is a tax for backing the Clippers in the first quarter and first half as teams who are down 0-2 have historically responded favorably to the desperation of facing elimination.

That said, it’s not alarming to see the Clippers laying 4.5 points for the full game while laying 2.5 points for the first quarter and four points for the first half.

So where is the betting value for this pivotal Game 3? Let’s analyze both sides and find out!

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Mitchell Is In Elite Company For Jazz

The Utah Jazz have been a well-oiled machine all season long, and it’s carried over to the postseason where they’re third in Offensive Rating among playoff teams, scoring 123.2 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes according to Cleaning the Glass.

Unlike teams like the 2015 Atlanta Hawks, the 2018 Toronto Raptors or the Milwaukee Bucks of the last three seasons, this team is removing any doubt that they aren’t just regular-season warriors and are actually championship contenders. It isn’t lost on me that two of those teams are coached by current Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer, so although that may play a role in these teams’ playoff failures, what’s glaring is that those teams lacked a true superstar who can score efficiently against tough playoff defenses and create plays for others while completely bending the game towards his will.

Although he doesn’t get the press of the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, the Utah Jazz have an emerging superstar talent in Donovan Mitchell, and he’s arguably been the best player in this series. Mitchell is essentially the second coming of Dwyane Wade, except he is just as lethal shooting from the perimeter as he is slashing and driving to the paint.

Throughout this series he’s averaging 41 points while shooting 52.5% from the field and 44.4% from behind the arc, while dishing 4.5 assists and grabbing three rebounds. He’s also one of the best playoff performers of all time, averaging 28.4 points per game in 29 career playoff games, which is only eclipsed by Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Jerry West and LeBron James.

Given the way Mitchell has been playing, the Jazz haven’t skipped a beat, even with the absence of All-Star point guard Mike Conley who has been out with a right hamstring strain. Even as the Jazz missed 20 consecutive shots in Game 1 or struggled offensively with the zone that Tyron Lue and the Clippers threw at them in Game 2, the Jazz responded favorably to every card they’ve been dealt. With Mitchell tweaking his ankle and suffering from fatigue down the stretch of Game 2, it didn’t matter.

This team has enough talent to overwhelm the many of the league’s best teams. The current Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert has made his presence felt on both ends of the floor, scoring 13 points and grabbing 20 rebounds while also providing rim protection.

Given his size and physicality, the Clippers haven’t found an optimal solution for who to play at center, and the small-ball units simply haven’t created enough of an advantage to for the Clippers.

Joe Ingles scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Royce O’Neale also scored double digits, even with him being one of the primary defenders of Leonard in this series.

The Sixth man of the Year in Jordan Clarkson came up big, scoring 24 points off the bench while hitting timely baskets in the second half. Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting while also making the go-ahead three-pointer to give the Jazz a 104-101 lead with 5:46 to go.

The Jazz have hit some speed bumps through this series, but thus far they’ve been able to overcome everything in their path. If they can do so for just two more games, they’ll be hosting the Western Conference Finals.

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Do The Clippers Have Another Level?

The Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in a familiar position, down 0-2 in the postseason. Unfortunately they received some unfavorable news as forward Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the postseason after opting to receive season-ending back surgery.

Ibaka started 39 games for the Clippers, averaging 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks and missed 30 straight games after suffering a back injury on March 15. While those numbers were the lowest of his career, he was signed to be the replacement for Montrezl Harrell who couldn’t defend or stretch the floor.

More importantly, Ibaka not being around points to a major problem on this team as he could have provided a solution for many of the Clippers’ issues in this series, most notably a lack of bigs.

Ivica Zubac and DeMarcus Cousins have struggled with defending Donovan Mitchell in space and protecting the rim. For the second consecutive series, they’re facing a dynamic scoring threat who is surrounded by shooting threats everywhere, and the Clippers simply haven’t been able to consistently get stops.

The Clippers will need to pick up Mitchell further up the court but without mobile bigs, this is problematic There just aren’t many viable answers on this roster, and while the Clippers could go small with Marcus Morris at the 5, they’d be giving up a lot of size, and he has struggled shooting from three.

Still, the Clippers have a ton of talent. and they show that they’re a viable contender even in losses. They erased a 21-point, third-quarter deficit with a 46-23 run in which they opted to play a zone defense.

Although the Jazz will beat the zone in the long run with their shooters, throwing off players’ rhythm can be favorable for a quarter or a half before players adjust. You have to wonder if maybe the Clippers played this card too soon. The Clippers still haven’t played Kawhi Leonard on Mitchell for large parts of this series, so that’s a card could be played as well.

It’s pretty clear, the Clippers will have to win this series offensively, and Game 2 was particularly rough for a team that was first in three-point shooting percentage this season at 41.8%. The Clippers were just 11-of-30 (36.7%) from behind the arc.

The Clippers are getting quality looks, but as always, it’s a make or miss league, and I can’t help but think that their looks will fall as the series moves to Staples Center. As a I mentioned earlier, Morris is struggling from behind the arc, but Paul George isn’t shooting the ball well either as he’s just 5-of-14 from behind the arc in this series.

What George is doing well, however, is attacking the basket, putting pressure on the defense even when Gobert is in the paint. He’s gone to the line 19 times in this series which is more than another player, including Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

For a team without a true point guard to create plays and set teammates up, you could argue that George has been playing some of his best playoff basketball in years despite his shooting woes as he’s been consistently aggressive.

Nonetheless, the combination of George and Leonard is still something that has to be respected as the Jazz really have no viable answers for either. Leonard has been solid, scoring 22 points on 47.2% shooting in this series but he really hasn’t had a signature game yet … and we all know one is coming.

Which Clippers role players step up will be key against this Jazz team that has multiple guys who can score. Reggie Jackson was that guy on Thursday night, leading the comeback with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting (57.9%).

Coming home down 0-2, the margin for error is slim, and they’re going to need more from everyone. Based on what we’ve seen from the Clippers in the first-round series against the Mavericks, I think we’ll get it, but will it be enough?

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Jazz-Clippers Pick

Despite being one of the most profitable angles in past years, I haven’t played the teams down 0-2 in the first quarter and first half the entire postseason. I’m a believer in that you can’t use the same tools for another job. Sometimes you need a hammer and some nails, other times you might need the chain saw. I’ve written about how teams down 0-2 perform when going home, here, so you can check that out.

As far as this year, there have only been two instances of teams that were down 0-2 playing in home games: the Miami Heat in their first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Heat covered neither the first quarter or first half, while the Bucks covered the first quarter but failed to cover the 3.5-point spread oddsmakers had for the half.

Nevertheless, this is the perfect situation to break out that trend. The Clippers are still one of the most talented teams in the league with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They’ve haven’t been shooting up to their standards, which should improve at home, but also the Clippers have opened each of the last two games giving up 10-2 runs to start the game. That won’t happen here. Look for the Clippers to respond in a big way to open the game. Back them in the first quarter and first half.

Pick: Los Angeles Clippers 1Q -2.5 (-110) | Los Angeles Clippers 1H -3.5 (-110)

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Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: Where Is the Value in Saturday’s Rematch? (June 12)

Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart Odds

Anders Odds
-150
Stewart Odds
+120
Over/Under
2.5 (-157 / +122)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 9 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.

Amongst the title fight rematches on Saturday night, there is also a rematch on the prelims between Eryk Anders and Darren Stewart, who fought to a no-contest in March.

Stewart hurt Anders early in the first fight before the former Alabama linebacker rallied and appeared close to finishing Stewart with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first round.

However, Anders threw an illegal knee while Stewart was technically grounded, and the fight was almost immediately called off and declared a no-contest

Stewart closed as a -190 favorite (implied 65.5%) for the first fight and has climbed as high +120 (implied 45.5%) for the rematch. On principle, it seems like he might be the value side this time around — but is that actually the case?

Below I preview the matchup and odds for tonight’s fight. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.

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Tale of the Tape

Anders Stewart
Record 13-5 (1 NC) 12-6 (2 NC)
Avg. Fight Time 12:36 9:12
Height 6’1″ 6’0″
Weight (pounds) 185 lbs. 185 lbs.
Reach (inches) 75″ 74″
Stance Southpaw Orthodox
Date of birth 4/21/87 12/30/90
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.23 3.09
SS Accuracy 46% 44%
SS Absorbed Per Min 4.15 3.09
SS Defense 51% 50%
Take Down Avg 1.62 1.50
TD Acc 35% 40%
TD Def 80% 65%
Submission Avg 0.1 0.1

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Going into the first matchup, it appeared that Stewart might have the edge both in terms of grappling upside, and striking volume.

However, Anders was actively pressuring Stewart, and fighting much more aggressively after moving his camp to Fight Ready MMA and finally looked to have made improvements to his overall game that many had been hoping to see for a while.

Most importantly, Anders was the one who looked dominant in the grappling exchanges (landed 3-of-7 takedowns secured 2:35 of control time) and he had the power advantage in the striking exchanges; which is a statement against a large man-like Stewart.

Anders is famously durable, and he quickly recovered from some big shots by Stewart in order to turn the first fight in his favor.

Considering the fact that Stewart didn’t appear to have any of the advantages that were presupposed the first time around, I’m not surprised to see Anders come back as the favorite in this spot.

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Anders vs. Stewart Pick

I project slight value on Anders to win this fight inside the distance (projected +178, listed +200), but considering the fact that I projected Stewart as a large favorite (67%) the first time around, and bet him to win by decision (at +130), I’m hard-pressed to completely flip my opinion on this matchup.

On principle, I would typically bet Stewart here as an underdog, given the 20% price adjustment since the first fight. However, he either had a really bad day — while Anders had a good one — or Stewart’s perceived advantages went away once the two finally met in the cage.

Generally speaking, English wrestlers seem to fall short of expectations, and even though I think Stewart can be an effective UFC fighter, perhaps Anders is too sturdy to succumb to that type of game plan.

I think there’s value on Anders to finish the fight (legally) this time — but I’m going to pass on this fight altogether, given the odds history of this matchup.

The Pick: Pass

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Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: Expect a Tactical Matchup on Saturday Night (June 12)

drew dober vs brad riddell odds-picks-predictions-ufc-263-betting-preview-june-12

Drew Dober vs. Brad Riddell Odds

Dober Odds
+120
Riddell Odds
-150
Over/Under
2.5 (-167 / +130)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 9:30 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN
Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel.

Israel Adesanya’s teammate, Brad Riddell, will hope to score a big win for City Kickboxing in Saturday’s featured prelim, in a fight designed — and placed — to encourage users to buy the PPV card.

Riddell is undefeated (3-0) in the UFC against fighters who have tried to wrestle the former professional kickboxer. His opponent, No. 13-ranked lightweight Drew Dober, hopes to bounce back from a loss to (potential future lightweight champion) wrestling stud Islam Makhachev at UFC 259.

Hopefully, these two fun strikers keep this bout on the feet and turn in a scrap that should contend for fight of the night honors. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.

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Tale of the Tape

Dober Riddell
Record 23-10 (1 NC) 9-1
Avg. Fight Time 7:44 15:00
Height 5’8″ 5’7″
Weight (pounds) 155 lbs. 155 lbs.
Reach (inches) 70″ 71″
Stance Southpaw Orthodox
Date of birth 10/19/88 9/30/91
Sig Strikes Per Min 4.33 4.36
SS Accuracy 40% 50%
SS Absorbed Per Min 3.87 2.62
SS Defense 54% 53%
Take Down Avg 0.80 1.00
TD Acc 17% 37%
TD Def 55% 60%
Submission Avg 0.1 0.0

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Riddell was initially scheduled to face Gregor Gillespie before this booking and he wouldn’t have looked any better trying to stay on his feet against Gillespie than Dober looked against Mahkachev.

In fact, Dober might have the wrestling and grappling edge in this matchup, but I’m not sure that the Elevation Fight Team product will try to utilize those skills with consistency.

It would certainly benefit him to keep mixing things up since Riddell is likely the more technically refined striker, and his combinations figure to help him pull away on volume against Dober, who tends to sit down on his strikes load up for power.

Moreover, if Riddell doesn’t have to focus on his takedown defense, then he might really fall into a rhythm and completely pick Dober apart at range.

Riddell (+1.74 strike differential; 103% combined striking accuracy and defense) is a more efficient striker than Dober (+0.46; 94% combined accuracy and defense), but this fight seems likely to play out in a way that could be both very close and difficult to score.

While I might give the output edge to Riddell, Dober — like any Elevation Fight Team competitor — has the assumed edge in cardio; I could see him trying to shoot takedowns to finish off and/or flip rounds late.

While Riddell is good at getting up from his back, his first-level takedown defense (60%) isn’t great, so if Dober times those late in rounds, then he might do enough to flip the scorecards if the striking is otherwise close.

That being said, I’m expecting to see a 15-minute war that contends for Fight of the Night and raises the stock of both lightweights in the eyes of fans.

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Dober vs. Riddell Pick

I projected slight value on the over and/or fight goes the distance prop for this fight (projected -170, listed -150), and I considered making a play at current odds.

However, I also spotted some value on Riddell to win by decision (projected +235, listed +250), and I ended up debating between those two plays.

Although there’s less projected value on Riddell’s decision prop than betting the fight to go the distance, I do see Dober as the man who is much more likely to finish. I’m happy to take Riddell at a higher price (and with reduced risk) when he has a solid path to a volume-based decision on the feet.

I wouldn’t fault you for playing the over 2.5 rounds, or the fight goes to decision prop, but this sets up as a potential slugfest, and I don’t want too much exposure to this fight.

The Pick: Brad Riddell wins by Decision (+260, 0.25 units)

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Astros vs. Twins Odds, Preview, Prediction: Luis García Should Save Houston’s Bullpen (Saturday, June 12)

houston astros vs minnesota twins-mlb-odds-bets-picks-june-12

Astros vs. Twins Odds

Astros Odds -108
Twins Odds -100
Over/Under 9.5
Time 7:15 p.m. ET
TV FOX (Regional)
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.

Two similar starters take the hill in a battle between the best of the American League West in the Houston Astros and an underachieving Minnesota Twins squad.

José Berríos duels Luis García in this one with the Twins getting a slight edge on the line with their established veteran. Is Luis García that underrated, or does José Berríos have the advantage here?

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Can García Keep Astros Bullpen Off The Hook?

The Houston Astros rank third overall in baseball, as of Friday, in run differential at +76, whereas the Twins have faltered from their 2019 and 2020 success down to -40. Houston has a massive advantage here with the sticks.

Outside of Martín Maldonado, the entire Houston lineup mashes right-handed pitching. Missing Aledmys Díaz is a blow to the Astros, but having seven players with a wRC+ over 120 against righties is a leg up on nearly every team in the majors. This offsets any advantage Berríos may have given the Twins.

Houston’s crux is their bullpen, where they rank second-to-last in all of baseball in fWAR (-0.3). The reason here is they have six contributing bullpen pieces all out on the injured list. Essentially, this leaves high-leverage relief opportunities up to Ryan Pressly. However, Luis García has flaunted his ability to go deeper into games. The 24-year-old has gone at least five in every start since early May, so this is encouraging, given the only part of the Astros that is not producing is the bullpen.

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Twins Lack Strong Bottom Of The Order

The Twins have the same issue. They rank 23rd in value from their relief core, so they do not have much of an advantage over the short-handed Astros bullpen. Taylor Rogers is an encouraging option, but if the Astros knock Berríos out of the game early, they will have some issues in the middle relief portion of the ballgame.

A few critical injuries (Caleb Thielbar, Devin Smeltzer and Shaun Anderson) hinder their ability to gain any ground in the American League Central, but mostly, underperformances from the back-end relievers, like Álex Colomé, have put this team in a terrible position to succeed.

Early MVP contender, Byron Buxton, being out is a huge blow to the mainstays of this Minnesota lineup. He is finally on his rehabilitation stint in AAA, so his return will boost an ailing squad. He is their best option against righties this season. They are an above average team, when facing a right-hander, but the bottom of the order lacks the wherewithal to succeed.

Max Kepler and Luis Arráez are two of their best options in this position, so being without them is yet another blockade in the way of advancing past the young Astros starter. Given this reason, the Astros have yet another advantage over the Twinkies.

Astros-Twins Pick

When it comes down to it, getting even money for the Houston Astros, given their ability to hit right-handers and their strong starting pitching, is a handout. Their bullpen is incredibly undermanned at the moment, but since the Twins have similar relief issues, this does not concern me.

The Twins have their standard pieces in the lineup who can hit righties, but not to the level of the Astros, where they have literally only one weak spot matching up with José Berríos. Luis García versus Berríos is a shocking wash, so neither team has the starting pitching advantage expected. This is a great pitching duel amongst starters, but the bullpens will most likely come into play.

Whichever gives up less opportunities with men on base will most likely come home the winner in this one. Take the Astros to -120. They should be able to get to Berríos early.

Pick: Houston Astros -108, play to -120

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Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: Expect an Uptempo Fight and Early Finish (Saturday, June 12)

Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill Odds

Craig Odds
+230
Hill Odds
-300
Over/Under
1.5 (-124 / -104)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 10 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN PPV
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.

No. 14-ranked light heavyweight Paul Craig and No. 15-ranked Jamahal Hill kick off the Pay-Per-View portion of Saturday’s UFC 263 card in a fight that was rescheduled from March due to a positive COVID result for Hill. The two men have been going back and forth on social media and during fight week, which should make for an exciting contest.

Craig is unbeaten in his MMA career (three wins and one draw) while Hill hasn’t lost in his four UFC fights, but has one no contest from his bout with Klidson Abreu.

Below I preview the matchup and odds for Saturday’s fight. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.

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Tale of the Tape

Craig Hill
Record 14-4-1 8-0 (1 NC)
Avg. Fight Time 8:25 8:44
Height 6’3″ 6’4″
Weight (pounds) 205 lbs. 205 lbs.
Reach (inches) 76″ 79″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 11/27/87 5/19/1991
Sig Strikes Per Min 2.40 7.90
SS Accuracy 49% 52%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.43 3.15
SS Defense 49% 49%
Take Down Avg 2.11 0.00
TD Acc 26% 0%
TD Def 55% 53%
Submission Avg 1.5 0.0

_BookPromo=299

“Sweet Dreams” is one of the most exciting prospects in the light heavyweight division, and his size, physicality, and speed should pose problems for Craig on the feet.

But there’s a path for “BearJew” on the mat, and Hill has been taken down as many as six times in one fight by Darko Stosic (Jan. 2020) — so there’s some concern that he may not dictate where this fight takes place, particularly in the early stages.

However, Hill has shown a good getup game, and still managed to throw more than 100 significant strikes in that Stostic fight. He has averaged nearly eight significant strikes per minute (7.9) in the UFC.

Craig also doesn’t maintain his level beyond the opening 7.5 minutes, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hill survive until he finds a late finish.

Hill is the less experienced fighter, but he appears to be improving at a more rapid pace. Provided that Craig doesn’t suffocate him with top time or find a quick submission, I do think that he’ll be the more dangerous man for the majority of the contest.

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Craig vs. Hill Pick

I show value on this fight to end inside the distance (projected -606, listed -304), Hill to win by KO/TKO (projected -157, listed -125), and Hill to win inside the distance (projected -184, listed -139.)

Alternatively, I considered betting on the under 1.5 rounds, or on Hill to win in Round 1 (+210).

I ultimately landed on HIll’s inside the distance prop, which I would bet to -165; I don’t want to bet against the clock in this fight.

The Pick: Jamahal Hill wins Inside the Distance (-139, 0.5 units)

_BookPromo=1119

2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree Round 3 Buys & Fades: Chesson Hadley Will Relinquish Lead

2021-palmetto-championship-round-3-buys-fades-hadley

The second round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree was a different perspective of Congaree Golf Club than the opening 18 holes. The field averaged nearly two strokes over par on the day, more than a shot worse than the opening round as the course dried out and required more precision.

Chesson Hadley was one of the few that didn’t seem to notice the change in course conditions as he followed his opening round 65 with a 5-under 66. He carries a two shot lead into the weekend over World No. 1 Dustin Johnson who shot a 3-under 68. Only 21 year-old Tain Lee is within less than three shots of DJ, as he had eight birdies through 15 holes in his second round before play was stopped for inclement weather.

Beyond Lee are three players at 6-under, five shots behind Hadley. The top two or three have really separated themselves heading into moving day, but only DJ has much experience in this position. This scenario creates an interesting odds situation as DJ is the top player in the odds market despite his two-shot deficit.

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Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different — Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics…

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 3

The main buy I made yesterday was on Dustin Johnson as I saw this as an event he would fairly comfortably win. I still have those same feelings as his odds have dropped to even money despite his two-shot deficit.

DJ was even with Hadley heading into his final hole on Friday before an errant tee shot required a drop, leading to a double-bogey six on the Par 4 18th. He still ranked 14th on the round with his tee-to-green play, and finished sixth on the day in strokes gained approach. I still see DJ as the winner of this event, and frankly, I don’t think it will be much of a sweat on Sunday evening.

If you want to buy into some of the chasers, I would look at the group at 6-under. One of the most consistent players through two rounds has been Georgia Bulldog, Harris English.

English is averaging more than two strokes gained on the field with his ball-striking through two rounds and two more with his putter. That pairing is certainly a lethal combination on any week, but especially on the firm and fast conditions at Congaree. If I had to pick a winner that wasn’t DJ, Harris English would be the first name for me this weekend.

While I pump up the leaders on the day, no player was better tee to green on Friday than Patrick Rodgers. He gained more than six shots on the field in that category and nearly three of those strokes came ball-striking.

Rodgers was able to put together a really solid round, but only had a 1-under 70 to show for it. He was simply unable to get the ball in the hole on Friday as he gave more than three shots back to the field on the greens. While he’s not a fantastic putter, he certainly isn’t that bad, as he ranks 90th on TOUR in the category this season. I fully expect him to bounce back on the greens this weekend and be in position to move up from his current position in a tie for 10th.

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3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3

My first fade of the weekend is on the leader Chesson Hadley. Look, I love Bojangles as much as anyone, but there is just no way I see their sponsor player maintaining his spot on the leaderboard in a weekend pairing with Dustin Johnson.

This week is the first made cut for Hadley in his last five tournaments, and his only top 15 came in an alternate field event in Puntacana back in March. He does have a win on his resume on TOUR, but that was in 2014, and he’s been battling for status since that time.

While his round on Friday was certainly impressive, it came together as a result of more than four strokes gained with his putter. He seemed to make everything he looked at in the second round, but as the pressure mounts in a final pairing with the World No. 1, I don’t see him being able to sustain that flat stick. I’ll put my fade in early on Hadley as I expect he may struggle this weekend at the Palmetto Championship.

I don’t mean to be so cynical, but these fades require a bit of that mindset, and Tain Lee is my next target. He is a virtual unknown on TOUR, as this is just the third event he’s played in his career. In my research on him, I was surprised to learn he had made the cut in both previous events, at the Farmers and Valero respectively.

He clearly has some talent the way he has played to start his career, but this weekend will be a completely different environment for the young Maryland native. Lee was the best player in the field on approach on Friday, but my fade isn’t about the stats, it’s more about the pressure of a late weekend tee time on the PGA TOUR.

The final fade for me heading into the weekend at Congaree is with Ron Oppenheim. This is a more traditional fade as he lost strokes to the field on approach on Friday, but made up for it with a hot putter.

Oppenheim ranks 112th on TOUR with his putter this season, but gained 2.79 strokes on the greens in the second round. He was able to mask his ball-striking issues with a sharp short game, leading to a solid 3-under 68. I don’t think he will be able to sustain that position this weekend, which will have him dropping from his current spot inside of the top 10 of the leaderboard.

_BookPromo=24

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 2

Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: Where to Find Value in Saturday’s Bout (June 12)

demian maia vs belal muhammad odds-picks-predictions-ufc-263-betting-preview-june-12

Demian Maia vs. Belal Muhammad Odds

Maia Odds
+180
Muhammad Odds
-230
Over/Under
2.5 (-179 / +149)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 10:30 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN PPV
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.

Demian Maia is likely competing to hold onto his No. 9 ranking in the Welterweight division and his spot on the UFC roster against No. 12 contender Belal Muhammad.

The former ADCC gold medalist is near the end of the line at age 43, on the heels of a knockout loss to Gilbert Burns last March.

Muhammad is hoping to secure the most prestigious victory of his UFC career after suffering from a brutal eye poke against Leon Edwards just a few months ago.

Maia is one of the most effective grapplers in UFC history — but does he have anything left in the tank in his early forties? Below I preview the matchup and odds for tonight’s fight. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.

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Tale of the Tape

Maia Muhammad
Record 28-10 18-3 (1 NC)
Avg. Fight Time 12:20 12:55
Height 6’1″ 5’11”
Weight (pounds) 170 lbs. 170 lbs.
Reach (inches) 72″ 72″
Stance Southpaw Orthodox
Date of birth 11/6/77 7/9/88
Sig Strikes Per Min 1.82 4.75
SS Accuracy 43% 43%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.03 4.02
SS Defense 63% 60%
Take Down Avg 2.55 1.97
TD Acc 26% 28%
TD Def 61% 85%
Submission Avg 1.0 0.2

_BookPromo=299

Muhammad has faced far better strikers than Maia, but this is the toughest grappling test that he’s ever had at the professional level. In fact, Muhammad has never faced a high-level wrestler in the UFC, and amongst the top-level jiu-jitsu practitioners, Maia does have one of the craftier takedown games.

If Maia can’t find a way to get this fight to the mat, he’s going to be in trouble. Belal doesn’t have the power to put most fighters away with one punch. Still, he could overwhelm an aging veteran whose chin might be starting to crack, and he certainly applies enough pressure (4.75 significant strikes per minute) to overwhelm a slow, aging fighter.

Even if Maia survives on the feet, Belal should rack up enough volume to decisively pull away on the scorecards. Moreover, if Maia gets this fight to the ground, then Belal is likely a competent enough jiu-jitsu player to survive until the end of the round. So if he does manage to get taken down, hopefully, he’s done enough damage to have won the round by that point.

Belal is the likely winner, but we still haven’t seen him against this level of a grappler, and there’s really not much information to go on — other than the fact that Maia is old — concerning analyzing this matchup.

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Maia vs. Muhammad Pick

I don’t see any value regarding the moneyline or total for this fight – but I would have considered playing Muhammad’s moneyline at -200 (opened -220) or his decision prop at +116 (projected +102, listed +105).

I show slight value on Maia’s submission prop (projected +341, listed +400), but not enough value to make it a play — particularly since I think Belal can survive on his back.

My initial read on this fight was Belal by KO/TKO, which is listed at +400 compared to my projection of +473, so I cannot justify a play in that market either.

Ultimately, I’m passing on this fight unless there’s significant price movement before the event.

The Pick: Pass

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Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: How to Bet Saturday’s Welterweight Clash (June 12)

leon edwards vs nate diaz odds-picks-predictions-ufc-263-betting-preview-june-12

Leon Edwards vs. Nate Diaz Odds

Edwards Odds
-600
Diaz Odds
+410
Over/Under
4.5  (+108 / -137)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 11 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN PPV
Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet.

Fan-favorite Nate Diaz makes his return to the octagon for the first time since losing the “BMF title” to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 in November 2019.

The unranked Stockton, CA native will hope to pull the biggest upset on the card against Englishman and No. 3 welterweight contender Leon Edwards, who could get a title shot against Kamaru Usman with an impressive win here.

Edwards enters off of a no-contest against Belal Muhammad in March (eye-poke), which he looked fully in control of during the early stages, but he has only completed one round in the UFC since July 2019.

Is Diaz worth a flier at a substantial underdog price, or has Edwards proven himself to be amongst the elite in the 170-pound division? For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.

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Tale of the Tape

Edwards Diaz
Record 18-3 (1 NC) 21-12
Avg. Fight Time 14:30 10:56
Height 6’2″ 6’0″
Weight (pounds) 170 lbs. 170 lbs.
Reach (inches) 74″ 76″
Stance Southpaw Southpaw
Date of birth 8/25/91 4/16/85
Sig Strikes Per Min 2.56 4.62
SS Accuracy 47% 45%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.03 3.78
SS Defense 55% 53%
Take Down Avg 1.35 1.19
TD Acc 30% 30%
TD Def 70% 42%
Submission Avg 0.4 1.4

_BookPromo=299

Even though this isn’t a title fight, this is still a five-round bout — but both men have proven themselves over the course of 25 minutes, and the length of the fight doesn’t necessarily favor either man.

Diaz has legendary cardio, and Edwards might be one of the best-conditioned fighters in the sport. He can weaponize his stamina with extended clinch and cage grappling exchanges. Though he is not a high-volume wrestler (never landed more than three takedowns in a fight), Edwards probably has the ability to put Diaz (42% takedown defense) on his back whenever he wants to.

Diaz is the superior jiu-jitsu practitioner, but Edwards has never been finished and is typically responsible whenever the fight goes. Statistically, he seems at a disadvantage against Diaz regarding potential output (-2.06 strikes landed per minute). Still, given his inside/outside style, he should control the pace and the location of this fight — and will certainly be landing the more powerful shots.

Edwards is excellent at controlling the hands and landing punches and elbows as he exits the clinch. Until he initiates those exchanges, I think he largely stays out of trouble with movement on the outside of the cage rebutting most of Nate’s pressure.

Unless he makes a positional mistake or has a mental lapse, this does seem like Edwards’ fight to lose; and frankly, it seems like matchmaking designed to hype up a favorite for a future title shot on the back of an aging veteran.

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Edwards vs. Diaz Pick

In addition to his cardio, Diaz has displayed legendary durability during his remarkable UFC run. The Ultimate Fighter 5 winner has captured 15 performance bonuses in the promotion, including eight fight of the night honors.

All those memorable scraps bring many fans — in particular the type of fans who will throw some money on you as a 4-1 underdog. I’ll never talk you off of any big underdog in any fight, but I think Diaz is fairly obviously the “public dog of the week.”

From a promotional standpoint, Edwards seems like the pretty clear “A” side. Still, I don’t think there’s value on his moneyline at its current price; the line opened at -275, and my projection is closer to -500.

However, I do show value both in the fight to go the distance and on Edwards to win by decision.

I’m concerned about Nate’s ability to last five rounds — he tends to bleed aggressively, and Edwards should be able to slice him up with elbows as he exits from the clinch.

You could play the over 4.5 or bet the fight to go the distance at plus money compared to my projection at 53%, or -113. However, I prefer the value on Edwards to win by decision (projected +115) down to +130.

The Pick: Leon Edwards to win by Decision (+165, 0.5 units)

_BookPromo=1119

Friday NBA Playoffs Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our Best Bets for 76ers vs. Hawks and Suns vs. Nuggets (June 11)

nba-playoffs-best-bets-suns-nuggets-devin-booker

Friday night’s NBA Playoffs slate features a double-header of Game 3 matchups: 76ers vs. Hawks and Suns vs. Nuggets.

The Sixers are expected to have Joel Embiid in the lineup as he continues to play through his knee injury. The Nuggets are expected to have Michael Porter Jr. despite his recent back issues.

In both games, are crew is finding value across the board and they are betting the spread in the early game, plus on prop and moneyline in the late matchup.

Take a look at their analysis and picks for tonight’s action below.

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NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a pick to skip ahead
76ers vs. Hawks Spread
7:30 p.m. ET
76ers vs. Hawks Spread
7:30 p.m. ET
Suns vs. Nuggets Prop
10 p.m. ET
Suns vs. Nuggets Moneyline
10 p.m. ET

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks

Pick
76ers -1
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

Raheem Palmer: Since the second half of Game 1, the Atlanta Hawks have never really hit the same level. After scoring 74 points on 1.37 points per possession in the first half of Game 1, the Sixers defense has stifled this offensive attack. In the second half of Game 1, the Hawks scored just one point per possession and had a -32.1 Net Rating.

They followed that up in Game 2 by scoring just 104.1 points per 100 possessions. While conventional wisdom says the Hawks should play better at home, I’m not buying that as it appears the 76ers have figured out a way to defend them.

What hasn’t changed throughout this series is that the Hawks can’t stop Joel Embiid who is averaging 39.5 points, 11 rebounds and 3.0 assists in addition to getting to the line 31 times in just two games. The Hawks will also be without De’Andre Hunter for the rest of the NBA playoffs, which hurts them when attempting to defend Tobias Harris.

Since the 76ers stopped turning the ball over as much as they did in the first half of Game 1, the Hawks haven’t been able to stop this team as they have a 120.2 Offensive Rating for the series.

Overall I think this number is short with my model making the 76ers 2.5-point road favorites. I’ll lay the point on the road and look for the 76ers to take a 2-1 lead.

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Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks

Pick
76ers -1
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

Brandon Anderson: A few games into the first round, when it started to look like this was the likely matchup to come, I had my eye on the Hawks as a sleeper who could push the 76ers a little more than everyone might initially expect. I still figured Philly would win the series, but maybe in six or even seven games.

Then Joel Embiid got hurt, and I got bolder. I picked the Hawks to win the series outright, and in six games, largely because I felt like the Hawks were the better team with a limited or missing Embiid.

Atlanta looked the part in Game 1. Trae Young continues to be an absolute menace, slicing apart this very good Philly defense with his passing even when the shots aren’t falling, and the Sixers haven’t had enough perimeter defense for him, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Kevin Huerter.

But Philadelphia responded with a huge start to Game 2, led most of the way, and now I’m re-evaluating the series again, because again things have changed.

Embiid sure doesn’t look hurt. He’s still showing up as questionable each night but was an absolute monster in the first two games, and it’s clear Atlanta has no way to slow him down. With two days off before this game tonight, it’s probably as healthy as Embiid is going to be for the rest of this series.

But there was another less heralded injury announcement that also looms large. Talented young Hawks wing De’Andre Hunter is out for the season now, leaving Atlanta short on the wing, and Solomon Hill has been pretty miserable in his place.

This is a great spot for Philadelphia. Atlanta’s crowd will be rocking and the Hawks should make a push early, so you can always wait a bit and try to get a better moneyline price on Philly if there’s an early hole, but I do like the Sixers to win this game, and right now, I like them to win the series.

Until we see proof that that injury is actually getting in Embiid’s way, these two injury factors have swung the series heavily in Philly’s favor, and that should play out most tonight with the extra day of rest.

_BookPromo=68


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Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets

Pick
Jae Crowder Over 2.5 3-Pointers
Book
William Hill
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

Joe Dellera: Jae Crowder is the quintessential 16-game player. He’s a physical menace on defense and seems to always hit dagger 3s. Part of his appeal is he can score efficiently on limited shot attempts.

Over the course of the regular season he took 8.2 shots per game, but 6.3 of those were from 3-point range; during the postseason, he’s taking 9.4 shots with 7.4 of those coming from 3-point range.

The Nuggets have struggled to defend the 3 ball, and have allowed to shoot 42.2% from 3 point range against them during the playoffs, per Cleaning the Glass.

The shots are there, and he’s made at leas three 3-pointers in his last five games. Crowder shot 38.9% from 3-point range this season, and I’ll back him to continue his hot shooting against this Denver defense.

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Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets

Pick
Suns ML (+105)
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Kenny Ducey: When the Nuggets faced any sort of adversity due to their lethargic defense in the first round, the Trail Blazers‘ defense was there to let them right back in the game. Well, they haven’t been afforded the same helping hand in this series and sure won’t be provided any sort of assistance in Game 3.

These aren’t the Blazers, they’re the Suns — one of the best defensive teams in the league this year. Denver has relied on its shooting, hitting 38.8% of 3-pointers, which ranks fifth in the postseason. So far in this series, they’ve been limited to 33.7%.

In the first two games, we saw a Denver offense that was simply out of ideas, hoping Nikola Jokic’s brilliance on low-percentage shots would shine through. Though I believe the Nuggets will have a bit more success on offense playing at home, where they had some of their best shooting nights, that should only last so long before the Suns assert themselves once again and take a commanding 3-0 lead. The Suns have a clear edge on both ends of the floor.

_BookPromo=821


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Saturday Euro 2020 Group B Betting Odds, Picks, Preview: Belgium vs. Russia (June 12)

euro 2020-betting-odds-picks-preview-belgium-kevin de bruyne-saturday-june 12

Group B: Belgium vs. Russia Odds

Belgium Odds -118
Russia Odds +370
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (+110 / -148)
Day | Time Saturday | 3 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds as of Friday evening via DraftKings.

Since it was announced Belgium star attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne would miss Saturday’s opening Group B match in Russia, the Belgium line and total have moved considerably lower.

De Bruyne is one of the best attacking creators in the world, and the Belgians will miss him. That being said, both teams enter the Euro 2020 tournament with defensive question marks. 

Belgium, which is a solid favorite to win this group, is one of the betting favorites to win the title, but it will travel across the continent to St. Petersburg to face Russia in front of its home fans.

De Bruyne’s Absence From Opener Hinders Belgium

The Red Devils love to play a high line under manager Roberto Martinez, but that becomes much riskier when you have aging center backs like they do. Both Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have struggled at their clubs in the last two seasons, which is a sign they’re in physical decline.

The Belgians play a back three, with Thomas Meunier and Yannick Carrasco as the outside fullbacks that look to get forward and provide the width.

With those two taking that approach, Belgium has wide forwards in Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens, who work best cutting inside. They will feed Romelu Lukaku up top, who was one of the best strikers in Europe this year.

Lukaku averaged 0.71 expected goals and 0.24 expected assists per 90 minutes for Inter Milan in their title-winning campaign, plus he’s been at his best when up top for the Belgians instead of off to the right, which he did at times in the 2018 World Cup.

Without De Bruyne, the creative responsibilities will go to Youri Tielemans, but he’s more of a traditional central midfielder than the attacking kind.

Even though the Belgians are at the end of their golden generation, most of their top-tier talent is in its peak or near the end on the attack. They look like an “over” team in this tournament, with defenders aging beyond their best and potentially being exposed by the Russians in transition.

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Russian Looking to Make Noise Against Group Foes

Russia made a Cinderella run to the 2018 World Cup, making it out of the group before upsetting Spain in the round of 16 on penalties before going out on penalties in a quarterfinal-round meeting with Croatia. Most of its team is back, with some defensive question marks and excellent attacking pieces.

Three of the first names on the team sheet are up front, with attacking midfielders Aleksei Miranchuk and Aleksandr Golovin playing into target forward Artem Dzyuba. Miranchuk and Golovin didn’t get a ton of minutes for their respective clubs, but shined with 0.32 and 0.40 xA per 90, respectively. 

The Russians have uncertainty in goal following the departure of Igor Akinfeev. None of their three current goalies have a ton of experience playing for Russia, and none have noted success in their club careers. Anton Shunin, the likely starter at age 34, has just 12 career national-team appearances since 2007.

Russia benefitted from a very weak qualifying group for this tournament, but allowed seven goals in two meetings with the Belgians. Although De Bruyne played in those matches, it’s difficult to see how the Russian defense will prevent Belgium from creating chances.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Totals across the Euros are deflated as the market is expecting much tighter games and lower-scoring affairs given how the entire season went across Europe, with less pressing and fewer shots. I respect the market’s view on that, but at some point the totals become too deflated.

Belgium and Russia met twice in qualifying, and the Russians didn’t show that they could stop Belgium either time. It’s hard to see how they’ll stop them in this opening match as well.

Anything plus-money on the total going over 2.5 goals is worth a look, as is a second-half over play if the game gets off to a slow start.

Pick: Total Over 2.5 Goals (+100 or better)

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Saturday Euro 2020 Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Wales vs. Switzerland, Belgium vs. Russia & More (June 12)

euro 2020-betting-odds-picks-preview-belgium-romelu lukaku-saturday-june 12

Welcome to the second day of the 2020 European Championships.

Things got off to a pretty formful start in the tournament opener, with Italy cruising to a 3-0 rout against overmatched Turkey in a Group A contest. Jeremy Pond (Italy — Team Total Over 1.5 Goals) and Matthew Trebby (Total Over 2.5 Goals) delivered winners on debut, so they’ll look to continue their winning ways on Saturday’s three-match card.

The trio of games on the docket are: Wales vs. Switzerland (Group A); Denmark vs. Finland (Group B); and, Belgium vs. Russia in the Group B nightcap.

As mentioned in Thursday’s story, the Action Network soccer analysts have you covered when it comes to all your Euro 2020 needs, providing game previews, detailed analysis and selections during the tournament.

Let’s take a look at our handicappers’ best bets on the intriguing card.

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Saturday’s Best Bets

ANALYST PICK | ODDS BEST BOOK
Anthony Dabbundo Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120) DraftKings
Jeremy Pond Denmark -1.5 (+133) vs. Finland DraftKings
Matthew Trebby Switzerland ML (+115) vs. Wales BetMGM
BJ Cunningham Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120) DraftKings

Odds as of Friday afternoon.


Anthony Dabbundo: Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120)

Since Kevin De Bruyne was announced out for the opening group-stage match in Russia, the Belgium line and total are both considerably lower. De Bruyne is one of the best attacking creators in the world, and the Belgians will miss him. That being said, both teams enter Euro 2020 with defensive question marks. 

For one, Belgium loves to play a high line under manager Roberto Martinez, but that becomes much riskier when you have aging center backs as it does. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have struggled at their respective clubs the last two seasons, which is a sign they’re in physical decline.

Russia is an attack-first side, featuring plenty of creative players in Aleksander Golovin (Monaco), Aleksei Miranchuk (Atalanta) and Artem Dzyuba (Zenit Saint Petersburg) as the target man up top. Miranchuk and Golovin didn’t get a ton of minutes for their clubs, but shined with 0.32 and 0.40 xA per 90 minutes, respectively. 

When these sides met in the qualifying, both were wide open and featured plenty of chances. While I am hesitant to take overs in this tournament in general, this is a great over spot at plus money or better.

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Jeremy Pond: Denmark -1.5 (+133) vs. Finland

We got off to the kind of start we hoped for in Friday’s tournament opener between Italy and Turkey. An own goal early in the second half triggered an Italian onslaught, leading the talented Azzurri to a convincing 3-0 victory.

Now, we turn our attention toward this interesting matchup between Denmark and Finland in Group B competition. The Danes, who are heavy -245 favorites at DraftKings entering this affair, are deserving of that lofty number. Denmark won the 1992 edition of this European showcase, but failed to qualify for the 2016 tournament.

However, the Danes righted the ship and finished second behind Switzerland in Euro qualifying play. Now, they’re one of the dark horses in the 24-team field and look to make others take notice against the weakest team in the group.

Denmark enters the tournament in stellar form, having gone unbeaten in 11 of its last 12 contests. The Danes get to face Finland, making its first appearance in the event, on home soil in Copenhagen, so anything less than a win would be considered an utter disappointment.

That said, I’m expecting Christian Eriksen, Pierre-Emile Hojberg and rising star Jonas Wind to have the Danish attack going right at the Finnish defense from the opening whistle.

For that reason, I’m taking a swing on Denmark to stamp its place in this tournament in style and will back it on the alternative line of -1.5 goals as my top selection on the card.

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Matthew Trebby: Switzerland ML (+115) vs. Wales

I was pretty surprised to see the Swiss at a plus number, especially against Wales, for this Group B match to start the tournament.

The Welsh are not the same team that made a very fun run to the semifinals in 2016. They don’t have any regular players coming into this competition off great club seasons at a high level, including its two big stars from 2016 in Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, both of whom now are at least 30 years old.

Wales’ best bet will be that 6-foot-5 striker Kieffer Moore causes enough problems so it can snag a point or more in this meeting.

I don’t see that happening against the Swiss, though, because of their strong spine in the center of defense and midfield. The back line has two Bundesliga center backs (Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi) coming off strong seasons, as is right back Kevin Mbabu. Between Granit Xhaka, Denis Zakaria and Remo Freuler, there’s a lot of midfield quality as well.

There are question marks in the attack given Xherdan Shaqiri’s lack of playing time for Liverpool, but he’s capable of a match-winning performance at the international level, as is striker Breel Embolo.

The Swiss were my best longshot to make a run in this tournament, and I fully expect this experienced team to start with three points against a lesser side.

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BJ Cunningham: Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120)

Belgium comes into this tournament as the top-ranked team and rightfully so, because its attack is quite frightening. Romelu Lukaku, who’s obviously the main man up front, had an incredible season for Inter Milan. Lukaku scored 24 goals, plus he put up a 0.73 xG per 90-minute scoring rate in Serie A play.

I mean you can go up and down the Belgian roster and there is just loads of talent. However, its defense is getting up there in age, as it’s going to be potentially relying on a center-back pairing that’s on the wrong side of 30 years of age. 

Now, the Belgians were incredibly impressive through Euro qualifying, scoring an astounding 40 goals, while only allowing three in their contests. Since the 2018 World Cup, Belgium is averaging 2.68 xG per match, while conceding just 0.88 in the category.

However, Belgium actually played Russia twice in Euro qualifying and both matches were really high scoring, with Belgium winning 3-1 in the first meeting and 4-1 in the second contest.

The second meeting, which was played in Russia, was a lot closer than the final score line suggested, as Belgium only out-created Russia by a 2.05 xG-1.66 xG  margin. This match will be played in St. Petersburg, so if it goes similarly and given the fact that De Bruyne is going to be out, the Russians could have a chance at pulling off the upset.

Russia’s offense is kind of electric and I think it will be a big over team in this tournament, because it lit up its qualifying group by averaging 3.26 xG per match. However, San Marino was in its qualifying group, which if you don’t know doesn’t have a professional player on its roster and was outscored 51-1 during the qualifying stage.

However, even if you remove the two games against San Marino, the Russians still averaged more than two expected goals per match. That said, I think this showdown is going to be similar to how their previous two meetings went.

I have 2.83 goals projected for this contest, so I think there is a lot of value on over 2.5 goals at +112 odds and will make it my top pick.

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Friday NBA Player Prop Bets, Picks: 3 Picks for 76ers vs. Hawks, Suns vs. Nuggets (June 11)

Friday night brings a change of scenery for a pair of Game 3s, as the Sixers and Hawks head to Atlanta for the first time, while the Suns and Nuggets head to the Denver elevation. Both home teams are coming off a loss — two in Denver’s case — and looking to right the ship in front of what will surely be an energetic home crowd.

So what can we expect from two big Game 3s tonight?

For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.

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.

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NBA Player Props & Picks

Trae Young, Over 9.5 Assists (+106)

76ers vs. Hawks Hawks +1.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
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Trae Young has been a stone cold killer in these playoffs.

Young is averaging 28.9 points and 10.0 assists so far in his first playoffs, looking like an evolutionary villainous Steve Nash on the court. Young has a great way of keeping his dribble alive and sneaking into space, and he takes some of those shots Nash seems to wish he would’ve taken in hindsight.

While everyone knew Young was a big time scorer, it’s his passing that people have really come to notice in these playoffs. At times, he looks like a genius out there. He has a knack for slowing down enough to force the defender to make the first move and then knows just how to pick the defense apart with the precise pass to a shooter or the perfect was-that-a-floater-or-a-pass lob to Clint Capela or John Collins at the rim.

The 76ers did much better against Young as a scorer in Game 2, with Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle putting him in the torture chamber much of the night until some final garbage time points, but Young is still getting into the paint and racking up assists. When Young dribbles into the paint, he can either get that soft touch floater off, or if Joel Embiid steps up even half a step, Young finds the right pass nearly every time. It’s his passing, not his scoring, that has made Atlanta so lethal thus far.

Young averaged an assist every 3.56 minutes in the regular season. At that rate, he’d only need 34 minutes to hit this over, and you know he’s going to play more than 34 in the playoffs. He’s averaging 37.0 minutes per game in the postseason, and that’s up to nearly 40 over the last three games as the Hawks try to squeeze every edge they can get out of their star.

Young has at least nine assists in all but one playoff game, a heck of a floor since it puts us only one dime away from a win. He’s gone over in four of seven playoff games (57% hit rate). In 52 regular season games with at least 30 minutes, Young had double digit assists and hit this over 27 times, a 52% hit rate — and that’s with just 30 or more minutes.

Young and the Hawks have been brilliant at home thus far and the crowd will be rocking. We project him at 38.7 minutes and 10.7 assists, so I’ve got to play this one at plus juice. I’ll play any plus number and down to -110 if needed.

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Danny Green, Under 2.5 Assists (-140)

76ers vs. Hawks Hawks +1.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Best Book BetMGM

Danny Green had eight assists in Game 2.

Folks, let me say that again.

Daniel Richard Green Jr. had EIGHT ASSISTS in Game 2.

This wasn’t just Green’s highest playoff total of the season, or even just his highest assist total in any game all season. It was also his career-high for assists in an NBA game, and probably at North Carolina and in high school too if we’re being honest. Has Danny Green even recorded eight assists on a video game before? I’m gonna need to see proof.

Green has not been very good this series. He’s barbecue chicken trying to defend Young, and if Green’s not out there for his defense and that hot-and-cold 3 ain’t falling, hoo boy does he get useless in a hurry. He’s scored nine points on 4-of-13 shooting in two games combined thus far.

Luckily for Philadelphia, Green somehow has 12 assists in those two games, thanks to four in Game 1 and that absurd outlier in Game 2. Well let’s go ahead and bet against this outlier performance continuing.

Green had two or fewer assists in 50 of 69 regular season games this season, hitting this under 72% of the time. And even though he went over the last two, like way over, he’s still under in five of seven playoff games, and at 71%, that’s just as strong as his rate in the regular season.

So the question then is whether there’s something specific about this Atlanta matchup that’s pushing Green’s assist totals up, and if there is, I’m sure not seeing it. On top of that, Green isn’t even playing that well so his minutes have started to slide.

I’ll thank the books for the 2.5 line and hit the under here. We project Green at 1.4 assists and rate this the top prop play on the board today, with a full 25% edge in our favor. I’ll play as high as -180.

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Deandre Ayton, Over 15.5 Points (-106)

Suns vs. Nuggets Nuggets -1.5
Time | TV 10 p.m. ET | ESPN
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Oh yes — we’re back again.

We played Deandre Ayton’s points over in Game 1, and he smashed with a huge night, racking up 20 points on efficient 9-of-13 shooting and adding 10 rebounds too. Ayton more or less matched newly-crowned MVP Nikola Jokic, and the Nuggets are going to have an awfully tough time winning when that happens.

We played Ayton’s over again in Game 2 after it rose from 13.5 to 15.5, but this time we didn’t hit. We got in trouble early when Ayton picked up two fouls in the first six minutes of the game, costing him some of his usual rotation minutes and clearly causing the young big man to play a bit too passive for awhile.

After averaging 36.3 minutes per game for the playoffs, Ayton played under 26 minutes, but still ended up at 15 points anyway, even with the slow start and even sitting out the entire final stanza as the Suns coasted to victory.

After a red hot start to the playoffs, our props have cooled off the last couple days, but this is a good reminder to trust the process. Ayton has now scored 22, 27, 17, 20, and 15 in five games against the Nuggets this season.

Denver has allowed opponents to rack up high-percentage 2-pointers all season, and it’s clear that Denver’s guards have no chance against Chris Paul and Devin Booker running that pick-and-roll. That leaves Ayton free to roll to the rim for easy, high-efficiency looks.

Ayton is now shooting 43-of-63 against Denver on the season, a tidy 68% field goal percentage that shows just how easily he scores on this poor Nuggets defense. I’m back for another hit because I think Ayton pushes 20 again as long as he doesn’t get in foul trouble and sit out a full quarter in another blowout win.

Trust the process and the results will come later. I’ll play the over here to -120.

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NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for Suns vs. Nuggets Game 3: Booker, Paul Likely Stay Hot in Phoenix (Friday, June 11)

phoenix suns vs denver nuggets-nba-game-3-odds-picks-june-11

Suns vs. Nuggets Game 3 Odds

Suns Odds +2
Nuggets Odds -2
Moneyline +104 / -124
Over/Under 223.5
Time Friday, 10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings

The Suns have dominated the start of this series as they took care of business at home. They won the first two games by a combined total of 245-203.

The Nuggets will look to right the ship as they return to Denver and grab the first of a pair of home games to avoid going down 0-3. Let’s break down the matchup.

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Suns’ Hot Offense Should Continue

The Suns look incredible. They have a Net Rating of 19.4 over the last two games, and they’ve held this powerful Nuggets offense to just a 106.3 Offensive Rating, per NBA Advanced Stats. Not only are they playing well defensively, but they’re shredding this Nuggets’ defense and scoring 125.6 points per 100 possessions.

There’s reason to expect this offensive output to continue. The Suns have posted an eFG% of 59.7% over the past two games, and they’re shooting a deadly 40.3% from 3-point range. They’re also dominating on the interior, and Chris Paul looks healthy as he’s been carving up the Nuggets from mid-range with great efficiency. The Suns had a top-six offense in the league during the regular season, so it’s not surprising that they’re relentlessly attacking this hobbled Denver defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, they’ve adjusted their coverage of Nikola Jokic. The Suns are essentially forcing Jokic to work harder to run the offense. He’s run an average of 2.31 miles per game, including 1.28 miles per game on offense. He’s being picked up sooner, so it’s harder for his teammates to not only get him the ball, but for him to facilitate for his teammates. The Suns are pressing the MVP, and there’s only so much one man can do.

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Nuggets Have Struggled From Behind The Arc

The Nuggets saw Will Barton return during Game 2, but now Michael Porter, Jr. has popped onto the Injury Report due to a tight lower back. He’s listed as Probable and played through his Questionable tag in Game 2, but it’s just another injury this depleted Denver team has to deal with.

The Nuggets are struggling after taking care of the Blazers. This team looked spry and able to hold their own with their rag-tag group of guards, but this Suns’ defense is exposing them for what they are: a group that’s being held up by the league’s MVP without the firepower to advance.

The Nuggets just cannot score and they do not take enough 3-point shots to give them the variance they need to keep up with this superior Phoenix Suns team. While their 3-point shooting percentage was strong during the regular season (38.3%) it’s dropped to 32.4% in this series against the Suns, per Cleaning the Glass.

There may be some room for improvement, because the Nuggets are taking 41.5% of their shots from long range, but considering some of their best 3-point shooters are either out (Jamal Murray, Monte Morris) or playing through some pain or injuries (MPJ, Will Barton), the players taking these shots are not the team’s biggest threats from 3-point range. The Nuggets’ inability to hit the 3 ball has increased the pressure and responsibility on Nikola Jokic, and the Suns have keyed in on him like we discussed before.

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Suns-Nuggets Pick

This series feels like it may be short lived. The Suns have taken care of good teams all year and were 17-7 during the regular season against teams with top-10 point differentials, and they’ve continued this dominance throughout the postseason.

The Nuggets are banged up, and although they’re in a must-win spot here in Game 3, I’m not entirely sure we can trust them. The Suns have come out and secured two strong victories, despite Denver leading for a large portion of Game 1.

While I think there’s value on the Suns moneyline, I don’t exactly want to bet against the MVP to steal a game at home. This Denver defense is not stopping anyone. They did not stop the Blazers, and they certainly have not stopped the Suns. So, I’m looking at the total for value. The Suns have scored fewer than 112 points just once out of five games against the Nuggets this season, and I’ll back their offense to continue shredding this Nuggets’ defense in Game 3.

Pick: Suns Team Total over 110.5

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Suns vs. Nuggets NBA Odds & Picks: Sharps Fading Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker In Game 3

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NBA Odds: Suns vs. Nuggets 

Suns Odds -1.5
Nuggets Odds +1.5
Over/Under 223
Time | Channel 10:00 p.m. ET | ESPN
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The Phoenix Suns-Denver Nuggets Western Conference semifinals have gotten off to a rough start for the MVP Nikola Jokic and Co. The Nuggets are in an 0-2 series hole due to the intense defense and balanced scoring effort from Monty Williams’ Suns squad.

In Game 2, all five Phoenix starters scored in double figures and the team shot 47.4% from the 3-point line. Denver provided little to no defensive resistance and it didn’t help that the Suns’ focused so much defensive attention on Jokic.

Jokic—who to his credit, has carried this Nuggets team on his back all season long—had 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists in Game 2.

His production will always be there, but he needs some sort of running mate in the absence of Jamal Murray.

Denver has been great at mixing up who can provide the unexpected scoring punch throughout the postseason, but it is all for naught if you can’t get a solid performance from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter had a breakout year for head coach Mike Malone and the Nuggets, averaging 19.0 points per game (PPG) on 54.2% from the field and 44.5% from the 3-point line. In Game 1, Porter chipped 15 points. In Game 2 Porter’s production took a nosedive as he shot 3-13 from the field and was a -26 on the floor.

Our latest PRO Report shows that sharp bettors are expecting another cold shooting night from Porter and Co. back in Denver on Friday night.

NBA Picks: Suns vs. Nuggets

Sharp Action

The total for Friday’s Suns-Nuggets Game 3 opened at 222.5 before it was pushed up to 223 ahead of the action.

Since Thursday evening, there has been one Action Labs Bet Signal triggered on the under. This is a sign of sharp bettors fading the public.

Big Money

At the time of this writing, the 29% of bettors backing the under on Friday have generated 49% of the money wagered on Suns-Nuggets.

PRO Report Pick: Under 223 (+100 at PointsBet)

College Baseball Super Regionals Odds, Picks & Projections: Ole Miss vs. Arizona Betting Preview

ole miss rebels-vs-arizona wildcats-college baseball-super regionals-odds-picks-projections-series-schedule-2021

Ole Miss vs. Arizona Odds & Schedule

Tucson Regional: June 11-13*

Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
Ole Miss
+125
+110
+2200
Arizona
-150
-135
+1800
Odds as of Friday afternoon and via BetMGM.
  • Game 1: Friday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Saturday, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Game 3*: Sunday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

No. 12 Ole Miss (44-20) vs. No. 5 Arizona (43-15)

Series Betting Analysis

As I often state on social media, “Happy Doug Nikhazy Day.” The Rebels pitcher has notched 11 wins in 15 appearances and has 132 strikeouts in 86.2 innings pitched, making him an auto-play when head coach Mike Bianco gives him the nod.

The opening-game starter may be Derek Diamond, who threw 4.1 innings and allowed no earned runs to Southern Miss in the Oxford regional. The one-two pitching combination of Diamond and Nikhazy may be enough for a patient Rebels offense to strike.

The Ole Miss pitching is backed by an offense that ranks 37th in home runs per game and ranks fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Arizona started off on the right foot, overcoming Grand Canyon ace Pierson Ohl. The Wildcats swept the remainder of the region by a combined score of 9-2 over UC Santa Barbara.


Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
Ole Miss
Arizona
Proj.
1
Derek Diamond
Chase Silseth
ARI -140
2
Doug Nikhazy
Garrett Irvin
ARI -105
3*
Tyler Myers
Chandler Murphy
ARI -140

Neither of Arizona’s regional opponents could expose its season-long issues with fielding and strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Wildcats are outside the top 70 in home runs per game, strikeout-to-walk ratio and walks allowed per nine. The most glaring stat is defensive efficiency, as Arizona is the worst-ranked team remaining with a rank of 189th in fielding percentage.

The true odds for Arizona based on staff FIP and starting pitchers is -170, but this is a series that is almost guaranteed to go three games when Doug Nikhazy takes the mound for Ole Miss.

In lieu of a series bet, earmark the Nikhazy start for investment, as it should come as an Ole Miss pick’em.

Pick: Single Game — Ole Miss -120 or better when Doug Nikhazy starts

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French Open Final Odds, Promo: Bet $20, Win $200 if Djokovic Records an Ace!

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I’d imagine he’ll have no problem recording at least one on Sunday.

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NBA Playoffs Odds, Preview for 76ers vs. Hawks, Game 3: Bet on Philly’s Defense (Friday, June 11)

philadelphia 76ers vs atlanta hawks-nba-odds-bets-picks-june-11

76ers vs. Hawks Game 3 Odds

76ers Odds -1.5 (-114)
Hawks Odds +1.5 (-107)
Moneyline -127 / +106
Over/Under 224.5
Time Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds updated Friday afternoon and via DraftKings

The first two games of this series have been all about runs. In Game 1, the Hawks came out swinging and got an early lead. Philly did everything they could to come back, but their second-half run would not be enough. In Game 2, Philly started strong and Atlanta would fight back in the second. However, the second half would be all Sixers, leading to their 16-point victory.

For the Hawks, their shooting has been what has ignited their runs. In the three-quarters Atlanta’s won, they have shot 17-for-30 from deep. In the five quarters they lost, Atlanta shot just 14-for-47 from behind the arc.

For the Sixers, it has been their ability to control the ball that leads them to success. In the five quarters Philly won, they have just nine turnovers, in the three quarters they lost, they have 19.

Game 3 will be determined by Atlanta’s shooting and Philly’s ability to protect the ball. Let’s look further to see who will have the edge.

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76ers Are Tough To Beat With Embiid On Court

The story for Philadelphia in the postseason has been the difference Joel Embiid makes when he is on the court. Per Basketball-Reference, the Sixers have a +25.2 Net Rating with Embiid on the court and -3.3 without him. The most impressive part is the efficiency with which he is dominating.

In the playoffs, his shooting split is 59/43/86. There is no area on the court you can force him, and if you get too close he can blow by you off the dribble. The Sixers will need Embiid to continue playing dominantly to win Game 3 and regain home-court advantage.

Alongside Embiid’s dominance has been impressive performances by Seth Curry. Through the first two games, Curry has been Philly’s second-leading scorer, averaging 21.0 points and shooting 66.7% from 3. These numbers have been fantastic, but expecting him to maintain this all series is a stretch. If/When he begins to cool down, Philly will need to find someone else to fill in for his scoring.

While Curry and Embiid have taken care of the scoring, Ben Simmons has been tasked with leading the defense. Against Atlanta, this mostly means doing everything he can to slow down Trae Young. Simmons finished second in this year’s Defensive Player of the Year race, and it is showing. The first half of Game 1 was not pretty, but since then Simmons has held Young to nine-of-26 shooting and one for 11 from 3. Simmons stopping Young will be crucial for the Sixers especially in Atlanta.

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Pressure Is On Hawks To Defend Home Court

In Game 2, the trouble for Hawks was that their best players failed to show up. In the regular season, Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic and John Collins were the Hawks’ leaders in points per game. In Game 2, they combined for 43 points but shot 37% from the field and 21% from 3. Atlanta had already stolen home court in Game 1, so there was much less urgency for Game 2. Now that they are defending their home court though, the pressure is back on, and Atlanta will need better performances from their best.

While their starters stunk up the joint, the Hawks bench did everything they could to keep it close. Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter were the leaders of the bench-run late in the first quarter and into the second. They ended the first half with 30 points combined on six of nine from 3.

The Hawks lost the bench battle in the second half thanks to Shake Milton’s red-hot shooting. Milton’s shooting gave Philly a large enough lead that Atlanta would not be able to recover. If Atlanta hopes to maintain control of this series, the bench will need to help their starters by consistently outplaying the Sixers when Embiid’s off the floor.

Defensively, Atlanta needs to do a much better job of slowing Philly’s secondary scoring options. They have thrown everything at Embiid, and he has found an answer every time. What is unacceptable though is allowing players like Seth Curry and Milton to have excellent games. Atlanta is allowing a 53.8% field goal percentage and 40.0% 3-point percentage in this series. Hopefully, playing at home brings a spark to the defense, and they make life harder for the Sixers role players.

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76ers-Hawks Pick

After their horrendous start in Game 1, Philly has managed to turn things around and has looked like the better team the past six quarters. The main reason for that is the play of Joel Embiid who has shown there is no stopping him. The attention he has drawn has opened opportunities for secondary scorers to get good clean looks, and they have taken advantage.

The Hawks players have not been able to do the same though. Trae Young has similarly demanded the attention of multiple Sixers, but his support has not produced the same success. Bogdan Bogdanovic has been the player of note falling short of expectations. From April through the end of the regular season, the Hawks looked like they were going to have a deadly pair in the backcourt, but Bogdanovic has fallen short in the playoffs.

This is a big game for Philly as they need to win one of the next two to regain home court. Their defense-first mindset should travel well, and Embiid can set the tone offensively. They will need to limit Atlanta’s runs to limit the impact of the crowd, but they should be up for the challenge. The public looks to have the same sentiment as me with 63% of the money and 67% of the bets on Philly.

Back Philly to win and regain control of the series.

Pick: Philly -1, bet up to -2.5

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Friday MLB Betting Odds, Predictions: Our Staff’s Top Picks for White Sox vs. Tigers & Angels vs. Diamondbacks (June 11)

mlb-best bets-betting-odds-picks-predictions-white sox-tigers-angels-diamondbacks-june 11

By now, we know what Fridays are for: betting baseball to get a head start on the weekend.

That’s where we come in. Our baseball writers came up with two best bets in an attempt to help get your weekend started out on the right foot.

Our action tonight starts with Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers in an AL Central matchup at 7:10 p.m. ET before shifting to a matchup between the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks on the West Coast.

Check out each pick complete with a full breakdown, and use the table below to navigate to either game.

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MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
White Sox vs. Tigers
7:10 p.m. ET
Angels vs. Diamondbacks
9:40 p.m. ET

White Sox vs. Tigers

Pick
White Sox Team Total Over 4.5 (-107)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Lucas Giolito vs. Tarik Skubal
First Pitch
7:10 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: In case you didn’t know, the White Sox absolutely crush left handed pitching. They have an incredibly high .350 wOBA and 126 wRC+, both of which are second-best in MLB.

Two of the pitches they’ve had the most success against are fastballs and sliders, ranking eighth against fastballs and third against sliders — and those just so happen to be the two main pitchesTarik Skubal goes to over 73% of the time.

This is probably the worst possible matchup for Skubal, who’s been pretty bad for the Tigers this season. He’s posted a 4.99 ERA, and he’s having some issues with his control because his BB/9 rate is all the way up at 4.33 and his HR/9 rate is at 2.

I think the White Sox are going to hit Skubal hard tonight, so I am going to take their team total over 4.5 runs at -107.

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Angels vs. Diamondbacks

Pick
Angels -139
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Shohei Ohtani vs. Merrill Kelly
First Pitch
9:40 p.m. ET

Matt Trebby: Fading the Diamondbacks seems like a solid strategy anyway, but when you take into account that they’re taking on a surging Angels team with Shohei Ohtani on the mound, it’s even easier to do.

The Angels, who are unlikely to get Mike Trout back this month, have won six of their first eight games in June and are coming off a three-game sweep of the Royals at home. Arizona, meanwhile, has lost seven straight and is terrible, with all due respect.

While Ohtani has kept raking this month, the key for the Angels’ current run has been new leadoff hitter Justin Upton, who has a 1.515 OPS with four home runs in eight June games. It’ll be fun for Los Angeles to likely hit its pitcher second behind Upton in the National League ballpark.

On the mound, Ohtani has been brilliant. He has a 2.76 ERA and 3.44 xFIP through eight starts this season and has only improved as the year has gone on.

Ohtani has allowed more than two runs twice, and he gave up three and four, respectively, in those starts, and he has allowed a .589 OPS against in his last five starts. The only concern with him is walks, although he’s issued just seven in his last four outings, spanning 23 2/3 innings.

On the other side, you shouldn’t feel too bad about fading Merrill Kelly. His 5.12 ERA should be a little lower, according to his xFIP of 3.95 and BABIP of .313, but he simply hasn’t shown much since returning to the majors from the KBO other than being a bottom-of-the-rotation arm.

Combine that with Arizona’s 23rd-ranked offense, according to OPS, and it’s an easy pick here. Back Ohtani to shut down Arizona in the desert up to -145.

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Friday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Padres vs. Mets: How to Bet Snell vs. deGrom (June 11)

padres vs. mets-odds-betting-picks-predictions-jacob degrom-blake snell-june 11

Padres vs. Mets Odds

Padres Odds +150
Mets Odds -175
Over/Under 6 (-106 / -115)
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds updated Friday afternoon and via DraftKings.

The Mets and Padres face off for the second time in a week as the location shifts to New York. The two teams split a four-game series last weekend, but we’re sure to have a winner this time with it being a three-game series.

New York will send ace Jacob deGrom to the mound for the opener, and Blake Snell will oppose him for the Padres. Ironically, both pitchers picked up shutout wins during the series in San Diego.

However, with deGrom as high as a -180 favorite in this matchup, I’ll share a way you can get involved in this game without paying an exorbitant amount of juice.

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A Puncher’s Chance For the Padres Against deGrom

San Diego will get another crack against deGrom after he mowed it down for seven innings last week while allowing just three hits and striking out 11 batters.

It could benefit the Padres that it was only last Saturday when they faced the Mets ace, so the game should still be fairly fresh in their memory banks. That might be enough to provide some clues as to what adjustments they can try to make.

The harsh reality is that they’re facing the best pitcher in baseball who’s also in the running for the MVP award. This isn’t a secret to anyone, especially the bookmakers, who tend to inflate Mets odds in games involving deGrom.

As a result, I’ve found that it’s actually more profitable to look to fade deGrom instead of backing him in the long run.

San Diego’s lineup does have a puncher’s chance against him when you look at its overall numbers. In fact, the Mets split deGrom’s outings against the Padres in each of the three seasons he made two starts against them.

That trend could be active for tonight’s game.

And if we look at San Diego’s current lineup, it has 84 at-bats against deGrom with a .250/.300/.393 line, along with a .143 ISO. Those are fairly respectable numbers against a player who is widely considered the best pitcher in baseball.

Look for Padres catcher Victor Caratini to get the start behind home plate today. Caratini has two home runs in 12 at-bats against deGrom, in addition to a .483 wOBA.

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Strong Numbers For Snell Against Mets

While the Padres try to contend with DeGrom, the Mets’ hitters will also face a quality pitcher in Snell.

However, things haven’t gone all that smoothly for the Washington native in his first season with the Padres. After going 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts for Tampa Bay last year, Snell is 2-2 with a 4.83 ERA through 12 starts for San Diego this season.

He could be close to turning things around, though, as his 3.95 FIP does point to some positive regression by almost a full run. And perhaps his last outing serves as an example for that upside, as Snell pitched seven shutout innings against the Mets on Friday.

It was the first time this season he pitched more than six innings. He’s actually averaged closer to 4 2/3 innings per start due to high pitch counts from walking too many batters.

Snell’s 5.33 BB/9 ratio is the highest of his six-year career in the majors and almost twice last year’s mark of 3.24 BB/9. But in that last start, he allowed just one walk, which was key for him to pitch deep into the game.

Snell has faced the Mets three times, and he’s 2-1 against them with a 1.35 ERA. Despite New York’s 30-24 record, it’s actually just 6-9 when facing a starting left-hander. In addition, the Mets own a .222/.306/.367 line against southpaws compared to a .241/.316/.385 line against right-handers.

A team can’t win baseball games without scoring runs, and these numbers show that New York might still face a stiff challenge in its own right against Snell on Friday night.

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Padres-Mets Pick

I’m rarely going to lay more than -150 with a favorite in a baseball game. Instead, I’d prefer to look for other ways to get my money in, whether it’s a run-line play, a total, or even a first-inning under.

I mentioned earlier that over the years, it’s more profitable to fade deGrom because oddsmakers are likely to place a heavy tax to back him.

Our BetLabs database shows that through deGrom’s career, the Mets are 102-89 (53.4%) in his starts but with a loss of 15.10 units. I’m also well aware that the Mets have been a bit better over the last two seasons, as they’re 14-7 (66.7%) in his starts.

This season, they’re 6-3 with him on the mound with four straight wins.

I’m not sure I want to step in front of that train, so I’ll look at the run line for the first half of the game instead.

deGrom is 97-94-1 (-13.64 units) on the run line in the first five innings.

With the Padres getting a half-run in this spot, our ticket would still cash if the game is tied going into the sixth inning.

I think there’s enough support to show that Snell could keep the Mets’ bats quiet early on long enough for us to get our desired result.

FanDuel has the best price with San Diego at +106 as of writing, so I’ll look to place my action there.

Pick: Padres First Five Run Line +0.5 (+106)

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MLB Player Prop Bets & Picks: 2 Strikeout Totals, Including Max Scherzer & Lucas Giolito (Friday, June 11)

mlb-player props-strikeout totals-max scherzer-lucas giolito-june 11

With a full slate, there are many props to choose from on Friday’s Major League Baseball card.

Unfortunately, the betting markets are more efficiently setting strikeout prop totals. Despite this, there are two strikeout props that I like, and they’re both unders.

For this article, I will be evaluating my favorite MLB player props based on what my model likes and what the Action Labs Player Prop tool likes. The Action Labs Player Prop tool grades each bet on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade. I will be adding my own personal grades as well.

Below, I have laid out two prop bets that I am playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.


2021 MLB Pitcher Prop Record: 45-40, +0.1 Units, +0.1% ROI


 

MLB Player Props & Picks

Max Scherzer (WAS) — 9.5 Strikeouts (+120/-154)

Giants at Nationals Nationals (-180)
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
Best Book FanDuel

One of the Thursday picks in my daily pitcher strikeout props column was for Max Scherzer under 8.5 strikeouts. Scherzer did not have any strikeouts, but the bet did not cash because rain ruined our plans. With clear skies in DC, Scherzer is now pitching in Friday night’s game.

Scherzer is one of the best pitchers in baseball even at the age of 36. He pitches deep into games, allows minimal runs, and has a high strikeout rate. That’s why he unsurprisingly has a high strikeout total for tonight’s game against the San Francisco Giants.

I have been fading Scherzer’s highly-inflated strikeout totals all season. The question is whether or not I’m setting my money on fire by betting against one of the best pitchers in the league.

The median MLB lineup has 8.86 strikeouts per game, and San Francisco’s lineup averages that very number. With the Giants not being more disciplined or more strikeout prone than most teams, this bet depends solely on Scherzer.

Scherzer averages more than 6 1/3 innings per start, which is much higher than the typical MLB starter this season. He has a strikeout rate of 12.16 per nine innings. On a typical night, Scherzer racks up 8.65 strikeouts.

Scherzer’s strikeout rate should remain the same, as he has consistently had the same strikeout rate for the last seven years. However, I’m skeptical the Nationals will continue to rely on him for more than six innings per start.

Last year, Scherzer averaged fewer than 5 2/3 innings per start. With an added strikeout for Scherzer’s prop for extra juice today, I am even more enthusiastic about this bet than I was yesterday.

I believe the Nats will rely on Scherzer for six innings or fewer today and that’s why he should go under his strikeout total of 9.5.

Pick: Max Scherzer Under 9.5 Strikeouts (-154 | Play up to -170)

  • Action Labs Score: 8 (Based on 8.5 Strikeouts)
  • Kevin Davis Score: 5
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Lucas Giolito (CHW) — 7.5 Strikeouts (-155/+120)

White Sox at Tigers White Sox -167
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
Best Book DraftKings

The Detroit Tigers are one of the worst teams in the league, and they are close to last place in every statistical category. Unsurprisingly, their lineup has the second-worst strikeout rate in the league.

On Friday night, Detroit must go against Lucas Giolito and the Chicago White Sox. Giolito owns a high strikeout rate and pitches for many innings per start. But the question remains: can he have more than 7.5 strikeouts?

When betting on pitcher strikeout props, there are three factors to consider: the pitcher’s strikeout rate, how long they are expected to pitch, and the opposing lineup.

Giolito has favorable conditions for all three factors, but eight or more strikeouts is a high bar to reach. Giolito has had eight or more strikeouts in half of his starts this season. In two starts against Detroit this season, Giolito put up eight or more strikeouts once.

In a typical start this season, Giolito goes about 5 2/3 innings and has 7.24 strikeouts. With Detroit’s lineup averaging 10.10 strikeouts per game, Giolito could go over his total.

The only issue is that the total is juiced to the over. With the under at +120, there’s value on betting against Giolito —  even against the Tigers lineup.

Pick: Lucas Giolito Under 7.5 Strikeouts (+120 | Play to +110)

  • Action Labs Score: 8
  • Kevin Davis Score: 3

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MLB Odds, Picks, Preview for Giants vs. Nationals: Bet San Francisco’s Bats to Stay Hot (Friday, June 11)

san francisco giants-vs-washington nationals-mlb-betting-odds-picks-predictions-preview-friday-june 11-2021

Giants vs. Nationals Odds

Giants Odds +152
Nationals Odds -180
Over/Under 7.5
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds updated Friday afternoon and via FanDuel.

In one of the best pitching matchups to start the weekend, Washington Nationals ace, Max Scherzer, duels Anthony DeSclafani and the San Francisco Giants.

Interestingly enough, bookmakers have granted the Nationals a massive edge in Friday’s matchup. Not too often this season have baseball bettors witnessed the Nationals as massive favorites against any opponent. But furthermore, the San Francisco Giants are not just any opponent, either: San Francisco boasts the fifth-best run differential (+74) in all of baseball.

Will Scherzer be able to go his patented seven-plus innings against a high-caliber opponent? Or, will the league-average Nationals bullpen have to carry a heavy burden against one of the best hitting lineups in MLB?

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San Francisco Giants

The Giants have won seven of their last 10 games despite the absences of Mike Yastrzemski and Evan Longoria, each of whom is on the injured list.

Fortunately, the Giants perform well as a team against right-handed pitching. So much so, in fact, that San Francisco can endure without two of its best sluggers and still be successful, even against a sure-fire Hall of Famer like Scherzer.

San Francisco ranks eighth in MLB with a 105 wRC+ while also managing a 10.1% walk rate. Granted, Scherzer is not necessarily going to walk hitters; nonetheless, the Giants’ patience at the plate is valuable to have in their back pocket.

Where San Francisco truly stands out against Scherzer is hard-hit balls. One-third of the Giants’ batted balls qualify as hard-hit, according to Fangraphs. Evan Longoria being out is a huge loss, since he leads the Giants in hard-hit percentage against righties. Still, even without Longoria in the lineup, the Giants’ Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Brandon Crawford quickly follow Longoria’s lead.

Scherzer typically allows an average exit velocity of around 87.2 miles per hour. However, this season, that exit velocity has crept up to 89.5 miles per hour, which ranks in the 39th percentile in baseball. Scherzer’s contacted exit velocity is magnified as a concern due to his 36% hard-hit rate allowed to opposing hitters. These two factors, combined with San Francisco’s 33% hard-hit rate, raise concerns regarding Scherzer’s odds for success.

However, the Giants do have issues with their bullpen. San Francisco’s relievers have pieced together a 3.55 ERA, but they are definitely overachieving compared to their 4.24 team xFIP. That said, the Giants still have enough relievers who can slot into Friday’s pitching selection nicely.

DeSclafani can go six strong innings for the Giants, but there have been a few occasions this season where he could not even reach five. If he can summon six innings for San Francisco on Friday, then the team should be in excellent shape.

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Washington Nationals

The Nationals, on the other hand, are incredibly top-heavy. Juan Soto, Ryan Zimmerman and Trea Turner are the only above-average hitters in the lineup against righties. This is abhorrent considering they have to plug in six other hitters to potentially match up with DeSclafani. Although not an overpowering pitcher, he is still considerably above-average when facing a lineup like Washington’s

The Nationals bullpen is quite imbalanced, as well. With Will Harris and Austin Voth on the injured list, it is up to the likes of Daniel Hudson and Wander Suero to anchor the bullpen. Washington is very lucky that Thursday’s series opener was postponed due to weather, because a stretched bullpen grants Max Scherzer little wiggle room as the starter.


Giants vs. Nationals Pick

Simply put, the Giants are an underdog despite playing a worse team.

Sure, Max Scherzer is on the hill. Granted, San Francisco is playing on the other side of the country in Washington D.C. But still, this line should still be swayed more strongly in the Giants’ direction.

The Giants have enough going for them versus right-handers this year, so they should be able to get a couple off of Scherzer and eventually face the stretched Washington bullpen.

Take this one when possible, because a team like the Giants is rarely this large of a ‘dog. Play this game to +120.

Pick: Giants (+152, play to +120)

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Friday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for White Sox vs. Tigers: Back Chicago to Dispatch Detroit (June 11)

white sox vs tigers-odds-prediction-preview-pick-mlb-june 11-2021

White Sox vs. Tigers Odds

White Sox Odds -167
Tigers Odds +140
Over/Under 8.5
Time Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds updated Friday at 3 p.m. ET and via DraftKings

In an American League Central matchup this weekend, the Detroit Tigers host the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Chicago is comfortably in first place with a 38-24 record, while Detroit is fourth at 26-36.

The Sox have a +89 run differential, which is tied with the Dodgers for the best in the majors, while the Tigers have a -59 run differential, third worst in the league. On average, the White Sox win each game by 1.39 runs and the Tigers lose each game by .95 runs.

Generally, a team like Chicago should beat a team like Detroit 66% of the time. With the White Sox as -175 favorites (63.6% breakeven odds), the odds appear to be appropriately set.

Let’s dig into where there’s betting value in this matchup.

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Giolito Backed by Surging White Sox Lineup

One reason why Chicago is a heavy favorite is because Lucas Giolito is set to start on the mound.

This season Giolito has a 5-5 record with a 3.88 ERA, 3.52 xFIP and 1.1 WAR. What is also impressive about Giolito is that he is averaging almost six innings per start in a league where the average starter lasts just five.

Backing up Giolito is a strong White Sox lineup. Currently, Chicago is averaging 4.9 runs per game, the fifth-best mark in the league. With Yasmani Grandal, Yermín Mercedes and José Abreu leading the way, offense is not a concern for the South Siders.

The only worry that the White Sox should have is with the injury to second baseman Nick Madrigal. Madrigal was placed on the 60-day injured list on Thursday due to a hamstring tear that will see him inactive from any baseball activity for at least the next six weeks.

Madrigal is quietly one of Chicago’s better players. He may lack power but has a .305 batting average and a 118 wRC+ this season. Additionally, he strikes out in 7.9% of his plate appearances. Even though he is not a household name, Chicago will be hurt by his absence.


Struggling Skubal Faces White Sox

Unlike Giolito, Tigers starting pitcher Tarik Skubal has been a walking disaster since making his big-league debut last season. In 86 career innings, Skubal has a 4-11 record, 4.81 ERA, and a 4.68 xFIP. Additionally, he has a career WAR of 0.

Backing up Skubal is a Tigers bullpen that is nearly as bad as he has been. Currently Detroit relievers have an FIP of 4.93 which is the worst in the league. Against Chicago’s lineup, Detroit will have a tough time keeping runs off the scoreboard.

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White Sox-Tigers Pick

The oddsmakers have largely priced this game correctly with White Sox appropriately set as heavy favorites. The total was opened at eight runs, which was too low and has since moved to a more appropriate 8.5 runs.

However, if you look more closely there is value on betting on the White Sox to score over 4.5 runs at -115. When I simulated tonight’s game 10,000 times in my model, Chicago scored more than 4.5 runs in 56.2% of my simulations. Based on Detroit’s lackluster pitching and Chicago’s lineup, the White Sox should go over their team total. I would bet it up to -120.

Pick: White Sox Team Total Over 4.5 Runs -115 (play to -120)

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Friday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Braves vs. Marlins: Bet Miami as Undervalued ‘Dog (June 11)

braves vs marlins-odds-pick-prediction-preview-mlb-june 11-2021

Braves vs. Marlins Odds

Braves Odds -120
Marlins Odds +100
Over/Under 7 (-115 / -105)
Time Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds updated Friday at 3 p.m. ET and via PointsBet

The National League East has been the worst division in baseball this season. It is the only one with just one team above .500 and the first-place Mets have the worst record of any division leader.

The Braves are coming off back-to-back walk off losses at the hands of the Phillies and sit in third at 29-31 with a -1 run differential on the season.

Miami sits behind the Braves in fourth place in the division at 27-35. However, with a +5 run differential, which is the second-best in the division, the Marlins should have an expected record of 32-30.

Miami enters this game 3-1 against the Braves this season. Let’s see whether it’s good value to get another win as an underdog.

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Braves Send Morton to Mound for Opener

Charlie Morton continues year-after-year to be the most impressively unimpressive pitcher.

Morton is always good, but never great. This season, he has a 5-2 record with a 4.21 ERA and 3.65 xFIP. Those are in line with his career numbers, which are a 4.09 ERA and 3.78 xFIP.

The game plan for “Ground Chuck” has always been to generate ground balls and soft contact. He has a 33.9% HardHit% this season and his 49.1% ground-ball rate ranks 13th in the league. Morton’s velocity is actually up a bit this season, even at age 37. His fastball is averaging 95.3 mph, up from 93.4 in 2020.

In his start against Miami earlier this year, Morton allowed five runs on seven hits over six innings, including a three-run home run by Jazz Chisholm Jr. back on April 14.

After a bit of a slow start, the Braves’ offense has been great as expected. They rank top 10 in the league in runs per game, OPS, slugging, wOBA, wRC+ and walk rate. The Braves rank first in the league with over 1.5 home runs per game.

Ronald Acuña Jr. is tied for the league lead with 18 home runs and ranks fourth in wOBA and wRC+ this season. Atlanta has also gotten great seasons so far from Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley.


Alcantara Proving Reliable in Marlins’ Rotation

Sandy Alcantara is very adamant that he wants to pitch all nine innings when he starts. Well, he has come close recently, tossing eight innings in two of his last three starts. His most recent outing was his best of the season, allowing no earned runs in eight innings against the Pirates. Alcantara is averaging over six innings per start this season.

Through 13 starts, Alcantara has a 3.30 ERA but his 2.93 xERA indicates he could be even better. Like Morton, Alcantara pitches to contact, producing a 53.7% ground-ball rate, the third best in the league. Ground Sandy just doesn’t sound as good as Ground Chuck.

The 6-foot-5 Miami right hander throws his fastball 98 mph that he combines with a fantastic changeup, which opponents are batting just .146 with a 22.1 HardHit% against. Teams have just a 3.7 Barrel% against Alcantara this year, which ranks in the top 10% of the league.

Luckily for the Marlins, their pitching staff has been terrific, because the offense has struggled. They rank 14th in batting average, 24th in OPS and 22nd in wRC+ this season. However, over the last two weeks Miami ranks eighth in batting average and 12th in OPS and they have been even better over the last week.

The difference? The return of Starling Marte.

After missing 35 games with a fractured rib, Marte returned on May 28 and is batting .419 with a 1.244 OPS and three home runs in his 12 games since returning.

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Braves-Marlins Pick

This is one of those games you have to decide whether you go with the better pitching or the hitting. Miami has the advantage on the mound to start the game and out of the bullpen, while Atlanta has the advantage with the better offense.

I am going to go with the pitching. Alcantara pitches with the same game plan as Morton, he just does it better. His changeup has been terrific all season and most of the Braves top bats are much better against lefties than they are against right handers.

The current Braves lineup is batting just .194 with a .285 wOBA against Alcantara in his career with Acuña, Freeman and Albies a combined 8-for-42 (.190) with seven strikeouts against him.

Even though Miami has struggled at times at the plate, Marte’s return totally changes this offense. He has gotten a hit in 10 of his 12 games since returning from injury and is a scorching 12-for-20 (.600) in his last five games.

The Marlins’ roster has a combined .326 batting average and .390 wOBA against Morton and had success against him earlier this season. Their top guys in Marte, Chisholm and Jesús Aguilar are all hitting the ball really well right now and I like the Miami offense to give Alcantara enough run support to outpitch Morton.

Pick: Marlins +114 (bet down to +105)

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Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: How To Bet Flyweight Championship Fight (Saturday, June 12)

ufc 263-odds-pick-preview-prediction

Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno Odds

Figueiredo Odds -225
Moreno Odds +180
Over/Under 2.5 (-175 / +145)
Venue Gila River Arena
Time Approx. 11:40 p.m. ET
Channel ESPN+ PPV
Odds as of Friday afternoon and via BetMGM

The rematch that we have all been waiting for is finally upon us this Saturday night. Deiveson “God Of War” Figueiredo faces off against Brandon Moreno in arguably the biggest fight in flyweight history.

The first fight was an absolute war with neither fighter backing down. The rematch could look even better as the first fight ended in a majority draw with each fighter having their moments.

Figueiredo is a favorite at UFC 263 but not nearly as much as last time. The Brazilian champion was a -455 favorite in the first fight but has dwindled down to -225 for the rematch.

Moreno is known as the “Baby Assassin,” and he was every bit of that in his first UFC title fight.

Below, I break down where the best betting lines can be found in this fight. You can also check out Sean Zerillo’s full breakdown for every fight here.


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Tale of the Tape

Figueiredo Moreno
Record 20-1-1 18-5-2
Avg. Fight Time 10:24 14:09
Height 5’5″ 5’7″
Weight (pounds) 125 lbs. 125 lbs.
Reach (inches) 68″ 70″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 12/18/87 12/7/93
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.38 3.41
SS Accuracy 56% 38%
SS Absorbed Per Min 3.35 3.41
SS Defense 50% 59%
Take Down Avg 1.57 2.01
TD Acc 50% 45%
TD Def 61% 67%
Submission Avg 2.4 0.6

_BookPromo=299

Moreno is typically a higher-volume fighter than Figueiredo, so that could have influenced the judge’s decisions in the first fight. The Mexican also is a fantastic grappler who landed more takedowns than Figueiredo.

Figueiredo has the power advantage, but the challenger continued to come forward in the last fight which was pretty surprising. Moreno has proven to be the only fighter since 2018 to be able to take Figueiredo’s hardest punches and submission attempts.

A big question coming into the last fight was Figueiredo’s stamina in the championship. His cardio seemed to hold up pretty well, though, with two of the judges giving Figueiredo the fifth round.

Moreno has never been finished in his career and if that toughness shines through, Figueiredo could have another issue in this fight. In their first fight, Moreno landed  132 total strikes with 118 of them landing at the head of the champion, per UFC Stats.

Figueiredo landed plenty of volume himself with 137 significant strikes, 93 of which landed to Moreno’s head. He also landed more body and leg shots.

Moreno lost the first round on every judge’s scorecards and no judge had Moreno winning the fight. If not for a point deduction in the third round, Figueiredo probably wins the fight thanks to his ability to land power shots and walk his opponent down.


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Figueiredo vs. Moreno Pick

Moreno showed up last December on three weeks’ notice, as did Figueiredo, to win and showed off his durability. The fact that both fighters stayed in there and continued competing with each other was truly a spectacle to see.

Moreno looked excellent landing takedowns, but Figueiredo was never in danger on the ground and was very difficult to control. Moreno kept countering and attempting body lock takedowns.

Midway through Round 3,  Figueiredo had 70 significant strikes to Moreno’s 55. Round 4 was Moreno’s best round helping catch up in the striking department, as Figueiredo ate some really heavy shots.

Earlier in the week, there was some betting value on Brandon Moreno. Figueiredo opened as a -275 favorite but has lowered to -220 nearly across the board. If you got the Moreno line early around +220 that is a good play.

However, that line has just climbed too high for me to reach for it. Instead, I will take the fight to not go the distance. Being that this is a rematch, I think that there is some familiarity there.

It appeared that Moreno built confidence as he stayed in against Figueiredo. The question here is if Moreno figured Figueiredo out or if Figueiredo got tired in Round 4. It is also worth mentioning that Figueiredo won the fifth round on two of the judge’s scorecards after clearly losing the fourth.

The last fight to go to a decision was around +180. I think both are legitimate finishers, and it was so impressive that both fighters kept coming forward. I would be surprised if they are able to do that again.

Fight not to go to decision is -120 on BetMGM. This prop was -240 last time out, but we are now getting near even money on that prop. I think Moreno is a very live dog to win inside the distance. His submission and knockout props are nearly 10:1. If you were to pick one, I’d say submission +1200 could be a good stab. Moreno has 10 of his 18 wins by submission and appeared to be the better grappler.

A packed house is expected on Saturday which could also influence fighters pulling out all of the stops to grab finishes. The last card with an audience saw seven out of 12 fights finish inside the distance. Moreover, UFC 261 had 14 of 17 fights end in a finish including a perfect 5 for 5 (100%) finish rate on the main card.

The Pick: Fight Not To Go The Distance -120

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Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: Can the Italian Win Saturday’s Middleweight Rematch? (June 12)

israel adesanya vs marvin vettori odds-picks-predictions ufc-263-betting-preview june-12

Israel Adesanya vs. Marvin Vettori Odds

Adesanya Odds
-280
Vettori Odds
+220
Over/Under
3.5 (-174 / +136)
Venue
Gila River Arena
Time
Approx. 12:15 a.m. ET
Channel
ESPN PPV
Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel.

Saturday’s Main Event at UFC 263 features a Middleweight rematch between Champion Israel Adesanya and No. 3 ranked contender Marvin Vettori.

Vettori’s most recent loss came via split decision against Adesanya in a three-round bout in April 2018. At the time, 15 of the 17 media scorecards and more than 60% of fan scorecards sided with Adesanya in the fight.

While I agreed with the decision, Vettori didn’t begin to execute his optimal game plan until the third round, and it seemed as though he might have had the advantage on that night if the fight were five rounds.

Can “The Italian Dream” turn the tide on “The Last Stylebender” in a five-round title fight, or will Izzy bounce back from his first career MMA loss and both close the show and end this rivalry in style?

Below I preview the matchup and odds for tonight’s fight. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate.

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Tale of the Tape

Adesanya Vettori
Record 20-1 17-4-1
Avg. Fight Time 16:06 14:53
Height 6’4″ 6’0″
Weight (pounds) 185 lbs. 185 lbs.
Reach (inches) 80″ 74″
Stance Switch Southpaw
Date of birth 7/22/1989 9/20/1993
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.95 4.14
SS Accuracy 49% 44%
SS Absorbed Per Min 2.63 2.90
SS Defense 61% 66%
Take Down Avg 0.0 2.22
TD Acc 0% 53%
TD Def 82% 78%
Submission Avg 0.3 0.8

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The last place Vettori wants to hang out against Adesanya is at range. In a stand-up war with Jack Hermansson, Vettori proved that he could maintain an incredible pace (landing a middleweight record 164 significant strikes) over the course of five rounds.

However, Adesanya has a significant advantage in reach (+6 inches) over the Italian. He would likely pick Vettori apart from range, as he did in the first fight (47-32 through two rounds) even though the Italian has made drastic improvements to his striking and has become a very efficient fighter (+1.24 strike differential, to +1.32 for Adesanya).

Instead, I would look for Vettori to make this fight gritty in the early going to tire out Adesanya by pushing him up against the cage and/or attempting takedowns.

Vettori landed 11 takedowns (on 17 attempts) in his last fight with Kevin Holland. While Adesanya’s first-level takedown defense is pretty solid, once you do get him down, he’s not very adept at getting off of his back and tends to get passed with relative ease.

As a result, each takedown could mean a full round in Vettori’s favor, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get into some dangerous positions on top too.

Vettori needs to press forward and close the distance to put Izzy on his back foot. Of course, that’s exactly what Adesanya — a dangerous and precise counter-striker — wants his opponents to do:

That’s what makes this matchup so intriguing from a stylistic standpoint.

Even if he doesn’t get the fight to the ground, Vettori may eventually be able to pull away on overall volume and pressure. While Adesanya is a flashy striker and a brilliant technician, he’s often tentative in fights and lost against Jan Blachowicz on pure activity (88-77 deficit on significant strikes) even before getting pulled to the mat for the final two rounds.

I am concerned about Vettori’s gas tank if he proactively wrestles from the jump and whether he completely gasses himself out with an early adrenaline dump — particularly in his first title fight and in front of a packed arena.

Vettori has the tools to defeat Adesanya and has the experience of facing this exact opponent before. He’s tasted Adesanya’s power and felt the resistance that Izzy offers when defending takedowns.

However, Vettori definitely took the wind out of his own sails for the end of the Holland fight (landed 1-of-7 significant strikes in the final two rounds), so he’ll need to mix things up efficiently and manage his gas tank properly to make it to the finish line.

Adesanya vs. Vettori Pick

I projected Marvin Vettori as a 39% underdog in this fight, and I think there’s value on his moneyline down to about +175, at just more than a 2.5% betting edge.

Furthermore, I projected his decision prop at +293, and I think there’s value on Vettori to win by decision at +345 or better.

He has the correct style to upend Adesanya — with the ability to throw more volume on the feet and to keep the champion on his back if he’s able to use his wrestling effectively.

However, Vettori is also a very bullheaded fighter who pressures forward with wanton disregard for his own safety. As a result, there’s a strong probability that Adesanya intercepts him with a big counter at some point; particularly late if Vettori is tiring from consistent early wrestling.

That being said, Vettori has made the more significant improvements as a fighter since the first matchup between this pair, and considering that you’re getting a better price than the first matchup (+200) to back the Italian, I think he’s absolutely the value side.

The Pick:  Marvin Vettori (+220, 1 unit) | Marvin Vettori wins by Decision (+420, 0.25u)

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College Baseball Super Regionals Odds, Picks & Projections: Arkansas vs. NC State Betting Preview

nc state-vs-arkansas-college baseball-super regional-odds-picks-predictions-projections-betting-preview-series-schedule-2021

NC State vs. Arkansas Odds & Schedule

Fayetteville Regional: June 11-13*

Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
NC State
+135
+500
+5000
Arkansas
-165
-900
+200
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.
  • Game 1: Friday, 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Saturday, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Game 3*: Sunday, 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

NC State (33-17) vs. No. 1 Arkansas (49-11)

Series Betting Analysis

Arkansas entered the Fayetteville regional not just as the SEC champions, but as a club that has not lost a weekend series the entire season.

Big Ten champ Nebraska pushed the Razorbacks to the brink, almost defeating the No. 1 overall seed in Baum-Walker Stadium. The Razorbacks’ season may have been over by now if not for the heroics of National Player of the Year Kevin Kopps.

The Arkansas closer boasts some unbelievable statistics, posting 120 strikeouts against 15 walks and six earned runs in 79.2 innings of work, per NCAA Stats.

Head coach Dave Van Horn has completely modeled the pitching staff after the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing starters to go just a few innings. When the starting staff gets in trouble, Van Horn is quick to “call the Kopps.” NC State’s ability to get a lead and keep Kopps out of the game is crucial.

The Wolfpack are known for their offense, owning a top-10 rank in home runs per game and slugging. NC State has now won 21-of-25 after sweeping the Ruston region with a combined score of 30-11 in three games. The Wolfpack are the hottest hitting team heading into the super regionals.

The handicap in Fayetteville depends on whether or not the NC State pitching staff can shut down the Razorback bats.

Starter Reid Johnston has pitched into the seventh inning for the Wolfpack in each of his last 10 outings. Southpaw closer Evan Justice has earned 10 saves but has allowed 25 earned runs through 50 innings pitched.

When it comes to defensive efficiency, these are two of the best teams in the nation with NC State ranking fifth in Division I.


Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
NC State
Arkansas
Proj.
1
Reid Johnston
Caleb Bolden
ARK -180
2
Sam Highfill
Patrick Wicklander
ARK -220
3*
Matt Willadsen
Lael Lockhart
ARK -210

This is the first matchup between Elliott Avent and Van Horn, who rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in wins for active head coaches.

The Fayetteville region will be the hottest site for home runs and brilliant flashes of leather. These two teams are identical in rankings when it comes to home runs per game, slugging and fielding percentage.

The handicap comes down to the best player at the collegiate level in Kopps.

Because of the anchor in the Razorbacks’ bullpen, the buy point for Arkansas is -300 for the series. There is, however, inflation in the market, as has been the case with Arkansas prices all season.

These teams are truly a coin flip from an offensive and starting staff perspective. Kopps is not worth the -900 on the market as of this writing, making NC State a buy down to +280.

Pick: NC State +500 (down to +280)

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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pickups: Tyler O’Neill Highlights Week 12 Adds (June 11)

fantasy baseball-waiver wire pickups-adds-drops-tyler o'neill-week 12-2021

It was another tough week for position player hamstrings, most notably for Nick Madrigal, Lorenzo Cain and Adalberto Mondesi.

The short 2020 season and return to a full season in 2021 is seeing a lot of soft tissue injuries and that’s doing a number on fantasy rosters.

Pick Them Up

Tyler O’Neill – OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Yahoo: 76%, ESPN: 79%

O’Neill is the weekly “Should be rostered in 100% of leagues” player. He has been the second-best Cardinals hitter, combining power and speed and driving in 32 runs despite stints on the 10-day IL.

He has thrived with a high BABIP, a stat attached to his career, and is hitting as expected. His average and Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) are .002 points below his expected numbers. His .649 slugging percentage is .018 below his expected slugging.

Justin Upton – OF, Los Angeles Angels

Yahoo: 43%, ESPN: 42%

The veteran has a hit in each June start, including eight extra-base hits (four home runs). He has been better since taking over center field with Mike Trout out of action, and the at-bats are there as long as he can handle them.

Amed Rosario – OF/SS, Cleveland Indians

Yahoo: 23%, ESPN: 25%

His strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. He only has six multi-strikeout games this season and his last occurred May 28. I would like to see more stolen bases, but considering his improvements at the plate, beggars cannot be choosers. It amazing to think he is only 25 because he has been a topic of discussion for what feels like nine seasons.

Omar Narvaez – C, Milwaukee Brewers

Yahoo: 43%, ESPN: 39%

I can almost guarantee he is a better option than what you have at catcher. He has the second-best batting average and third-best OBP among catchers with at least 100 at-bats.

Miguel Sano – 1B/3B, Minnesota Twins

Yahoo: 50%, ESPN: 52%

Sano’s BABIP is .085 lower than his next-lowest season total and .124 lower than his career average. The batting average is bad, the slugging is higher than expected, but the walk rate is up three percent and 12 home runs may be available on your waiver wire.

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Worth A Look

Adam Duvall – OF, Miami Marlins

Yahoo: 22%, ESPN: 22%

I would be doing a disservice if I talked about Sano without including Duvall. He launched his 11th homer of the season Thursday. His strikeouts are eye-popping (15 in June), but that comes with the territory of all-or-nothing hitters. He is producing despite having his worse slash line since 2018. I put Duvall as a lower priority than Sano because their respective offenses are on opposite ends of the spectrum: Minnesota has the fourth-best Offensive WAR, while Miami’s is 21st.

Nate Lowe – 1B, Texas Rangers

Yahoo: 59%, ESPN: 57%

The concern with Lowe entering 2021 was prolonged production droughts. He has four hits, three walks, and one RBI his past two weeks and has seen his batting average plummet. His power stroke has been absent and its return could be imminent. Lowe faces Houston and Minnesota coming up. Both are bottom half in baseball in Pitching WAR and Home Run-to-Flyball ratio.

Robbie Grossman – OF, Detroit Tigers

Yahoo: 42%, ESPN: 50%

The Tigers’ leadoff hitter has as many home runs as he has stolen bases (8). Despite dips in slugging and OPS, he is still having a top-three season in both categories for his career. The strikeout rate increase is a concern, but he is also walking at the highest rate of his career.

Yonathan Daza – OF, Colorado Rockies

Yahoo: 5%, ESPN: 7%

Daza is a must-own in larger leagues and dynasty but must do more to be rostered in traditional leagues. His average is superb but is light in every other category. His .397 BABIP also screams regression and only seven of his 47 hits have gone for extra bases.

Yan Gomes – C, Washington Nationals

Yahoo: 14%, ESPN: 8%

He had a horrific start to the season but is rebounding nicely. The veteran is hitting well below expectations. He is hitting at least 50 points below his Expected Batting Average, Expected Slugging, and Expected Weighted On Base Average.

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Short-Term Solutions

D.J. Stewart – OF, Baltimore Orioles

Yahoo: 2%, ESPN: 2%

He has three multi-hit games in his past five, with a homer, three RBI, and a 3:2 K/BB over that time. He should be on your radar, especially in home games where his is hitting almost 90 points better. His average has jumped each month of the season as well, going from .179, .220, and so far at .350 in June.

Colin Moran – 1B/2B/3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

Yahoo: 31%, ESPN: 16%

Just three games back from a month on the IL, Moran took a pitch to the hand and missed Thursday’s game against Los Angeles. Depending on the severity, Moran is worth a flyer. He was Pittsburgh’s best hitter prior to his early May injury.

Paul DeJong – SS, St. Louis Cardinals

Yahoo: 31%, ESPN: 41%

The Cardinals’ offense is bad, so DeJong’s return is a boon even if he is hitting .177. He has had awful luck hitting in 2021 and has a .176 BABIP that should rise with his career-high Barrel Percentage.

Harold Ramirez – OF, Cleveland Indians

Yahoo: 5%, ESPN: 6%

Tell me if you have heard this before: Cleveland has issues finding outfielders. Ramirez has produced alongside Rosario squared and a 12% strikeout rate is worth rostering.

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I Am Skeptical

Christian Arroyo – 2B/3B, Boston Red Sox

Yahoo: 2%, ESPN: 2%

His success atop the Red Sox lineup is appealing, but his .386 BABIP and 380 career at-bats in five seasons gives me serious pause. His 14 RBI is tied for the most in a season. Injuries make it difficult to pass on Arroyo’s production, but he could easily be dropped in one week if he shows flaws that have made him a journeyman.

Miguel Andujar – 3B/OF, New York Yankees

Yahoo: 9%, ESPN: 6%

He is still only 26-years-old and is hitting lights-out over the past few weeks, but he has two more walks than you and me. His .427 slugging is the second highest of his career.

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Asian Handicap in Soccer Betting: What Do .25 and .75 on the Spread Mean?

asian handicap-soccer betting-.25 and .75

The Asian handicap is a type of spread betting in soccer very similar to the run line in baseball or puck line in hockey. It’s really just soccer’s name for spread betting, which is a bet on the margin of victory.

The key difference is that it introduces fractions of goals like .25 and .75 to the spread.

When you bet a team at a number like +1.25, you’re actually splitting your bet between two spreads — +1 and +1.5 in this case. If your team loses 1-0, you’ll push“>push on the +1 and win the +1.5. If your team draws 0-0, you win both bets.

If you bet a team at -1.75 and it wins 2-0, you win the -1.5 portion of the bet and push the -2. If it wins 3-0, you win both bets.

Let’s dive into some more specific examples.

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So, What Do .25 and .75 Mean on the Asian Handicap?

American sports bettors are used to whole or half numbers with point spreads — -3 or +7.5 in a football game.

Fractional spreads on the Asian handicap work the same, but they split your bet between the two closest half numbers. It’s just an easier way to denote that you want your bet split between two spreads.

Let’s say Italy wins 1-0 over Turkey in the opening match of Euro 2020, and use three different Asian handicap bets to show how it works.

One bettor bets $20 on Turkey +1.25, which DraftKings listed at odds of -141.

Again, you’re splitting that $20 into two $10 bets, both at -141 odds (though sportsbooks only make you place the one bet).

So what will your payout look like if Turkey loses 1-0? You push the bet at +1 and win the +1.5.

  • Bet: $20 on Turkey +1.25 (-141)
  • Result: Italy 1, Turkey 0
  • Total Profit: $7.10
Bet 1 Bet 2
Spread +1 +1.5
Bet Amount $10 $10
Result Push Win
Payout $10 $17.10
Profit $0 $7.10

How about if you bet Italy -1.25 at +117? That means the bet is split between -1 and -1.5. Italy needs to win by two goals for both halves of the bet to cash. But with a 1-0 win, you pushed one bet and lost the other.

  • Bet: Italy -1.25 (+117)
  • Result: Italy 1, Turkey 0
  • Total Profit: -$10
Bet 1 Bet 2
Spread -1 -1.5
Bet Amount $10 $10
Result Push Loss
Total Payout $10 $0
Profit $0 -$10

Is It the Same for Totals?

Yep, you can bet fractional spreads for totals, too. Let’s use a $20 bet on under 1.75 at +165 as an example.

  • Bet: $20 on Italy-Turkey under 1.75 (+165)
  • Result: Italy 1, Turkey 0
  • Total Profit: $33
Bet 1 Bet 2
Total 1.5 2
Bet Amount $10 $10
Result Win Win
Total Payout $26.5 $26.5
Profit +$16.5 +$16.5

Is the Asian Handicap a Good Bet?

Like everything in sports betting, the probability of each outcome is factored into the price. Some other articles on the Asian handicap will tell you it “reduces the variance” because soccer is so low scoring, which may be true, but you’re always going to pay for that reduced variance, or whatever other supposed advantage you’re getting with a different bet type.

The fractional spreads are a great option for some people who like the security of potentially winning one bet and pushing another, or losing one and pushing the other.

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But you’re of course going to get a better price if you don’t take the security — Italy is +143 at -1.5 against Turkey, and +108 at -1.25.

It’s not inherently advantageous to bet fractional spreads like +1.25 or -1.75 instead of +1 or -2. The prices are always factored in.

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Calling all soccer fans (and fans of money)!

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2021 French Open Semifinal Odds & Predictions: Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic (Friday, June 11)

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Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Alexander Zverev Odds

Zverev Odds +215
Tsitsipas Odds -275
Over/Under 38.5
Time Friday, 8:50 a.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings

It’s surprising that Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev have never met at a major and fitting that the first meeting comes on their shared best surface, clay. The stakes are high for each. Tsitsipas is yet to make a major final, a box his same-generation rivals Daniil Medvedev and Zverev have both checked off already.

Zverev lost last year’s US Open final to Dominic Thiem, which continued an alarming trend for the German. Zverev is 0-9 against top-10 opponents at majors. Here is a massive opportunity for both: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are on the other side of the draw. Who will break through?

Zverev at his best is a sight to behold. His combination of serve speed and foot speed is barely rivaled. His defense is extremely difficult to penetrate, his backhand is one of the tour’s best shots, he makes his returns, limits mistakes and the forehand can unleash finishing power.

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The problem is that Zverev at the peak of his powers is a somewhat rare sight. He has a tendency to revert to extreme passivity, leaving his weapons behind for retrieval mode. This was his downfall against Jannik Sinner last year in Paris, although he said he was sick. We saw it again in the opening two sets of this tournament, which he dropped to Oscar Otte and in the opening set against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, which was a rather ugly display of tennis by both.

At this year’s tournament, Zverev hasn’t faced anyone capable of beating him. Davidovich Fokina was his highest ranked opponent at #46. It just doesn’t get any easier than that. The same can’t be said about Tsitsipas. He faced a dangerous version of John Isner in the third round, a tough customer in Pablo Carreno Busta in the fourth round and historical matchup nightmare Medvedev in the quarters. The Greek has played with an impressive calm throughout. His clay court game is centered around his deadly forehand and complemented by athletic defense and strong serving. The weakness of his game is the return, which is remedied by the slow bouncing clay.

If Zverev relies too heavily on his defensive abilities, Tsitsipas will make him pay with high-margin sustained aggression on the forehand side and net finishing capabilities. Betting the first set is a chance to take advantage of Zverev’s cagey starts. He takes time to build enough confidence to go after his shots.

The magnitude of this occasion and the level-up in competition Tsitsipas presents is plenty reason for me to suspect Zverev could come out of the gates in retrieval mode. More importantly, it eliminates Tsitsipas’s match-closing nerves.

These next-gen matchups can be very mental, and the Greek has never made a major final. I’m not taking chances on Zverev finding his A+ level or Tsitsipas falling to nerves. But I’m definitely backing Tsitsipas in the opening set.  — Gill Gross

Pick: Tsitsipas wins first set -195 (DraftKings)


Of the two matches, this is the one I’m least excited to bet. The range of outcomes here aren’t that vast, yet this line is difficult to swallow.

Zverev has been to a Grand Slam final, and he’s seemed to conquer his double-fault and early-round demons over the past few months. A guy who had bad losses all the time suddenly looks much more composed and confident out there, and that’s scary when we’re talking about someone with arguably more talent than anyone on tour.

There’s just one problem, though. Tsitsipas owns the head-to-head. The Greek is 5-2 lifetime against the German, taking the only meeting between the two on clay and five of the last six meetings. His precision and variety causes real problems for the simple-minded Zverev, who likes to wear his opponents down with deep, heavy groundstrokes. This will be a battle of finesse vs. power, and I’m going to pick finesse given the fact that we’ve seen Tsitsipas diffuse power all tournament long.

Tsitsipas’ serve, and his serve-plus-one, have never been better, and although Zverev’s service is huge, he sneakily relies on his return because he doesn’t hold at as high of a rate as he should. The World No. 5 should do a great job of holding on to his serve here, which is going to make the road for Zverev into this match a long and winding one. — Kenny Ducey

Pick: Tsitsipas -4.5 Games

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Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic Odds

Djokovic Odds -265
Berrettini Odds +215
Over/Under 38
Time Friday, 11:30 a.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings

On paper, this is the greatest rivalry in the history of men’s tennis. It is time for chapter 58. If there’s one knock on this storied matchup, it’s that the results have been somewhat predictable based on surface. Nadal has not defeated Djokovic on a hard or grass court since the 2013 US Open. Djokovic hasn’t beaten Nadal on clay since Rome 2016.

Last year’s Roland Garros final was expected to be a close contest, but turned into another display of Nadal’s Chatrier invincibility. The Spaniard won 6-0, 6-2, 7-5. Nadal has won Roland Garros 13 times in 15 years and is undefeated when past the quarterfinal.

The main reason Nadal has been so successful against Djokovic on clay as of late is the difference in the forehands. Rafa routinely gains a massive advantage on serve by clubbing his first forehand and controlling the point from there.

Djokovic has an extremely reliable forehand, but it is not laced with the firepower that Nadal’s is. Nadal is able to neutralize Djokovic’s serve and forehand far more often than Djokovic is able to neutralize his. Most rallies in a tennis match are no more than four shots. Nadal beat Djokovic in rallies lasting zero to four shots 53-25 in last year’s French final and 50-36 in the year’s Rome final. That dynamic has to change if the Serbian wants a chance.

Nadal has shown no signs of slowing down. His forehand is still the most terrifying weapon in clay court tennis. Take his last set of tennis against Diego Schwartzman, for example:

Djokovic needs to try to get more returns to Nadal’s backhand, but he’s known that forever; the hard part is doing it. On Djokovic’s own serve, he needs to find a way to hit through Nadal without making too many mistakes. Last year, he unsuccessfully tried flattening out his forehand and using the dropshot. It was one of the great returning performances of Nadal’s career. Maybe Djokovic’s forehand will show improvement, maybe he’ll get to the net more.

So if you’re backing Djokovic, you’re likely depending on successful tactical adjustments. In the 58th match between these two? There are few secrets. The far more likely outcome is that we get more of the same. That Djokovic’s serve, return and baseline patterns don’t work against Nadal on clay like they do elsewhere. That Nadal’s return, defense and forehand dominance rule the match once again. What has changed since 2020? I’m not convinced much has, so I’ll take a bet that would’ve hit last year. — Gross

Pick: Rafael Nadal -2.5 sets +180


Djokovic has lost five straight matches on clay against Nadal dating back to his win over the Spaniard five years ago in Rome, but all but one of those matches have been hotly contested, hitting the over on total games. It just so happens that the one match that turned out to be one-way traffic was last year at Roland Garros, when the line was curiously close to a pick ‘em.

So, that’s why this match is priced the way it is. The oddsmakers simply don’t want to be liable and make Nadal a short favorite at his sanctuary once again. I think there are plenty of reasons why this match should be priced a lot closer, though.

For one, last year’s match needs to be put in context. Not only did Novak Djokovic play through the stoppage, get COVID and travel to America last Fall, he also played (and won) a Masters 1000, then days later played in the U.S. Open, where he was infamously defaulted.

He then turned around with a strange schedule and just a week later pushed through two weeks worth of matches at Roland Garros, outlasting Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets before getting trampled by Nadal in the Final. He had been through so much, and was simply out of gas against an opponent who chose not to play during the stoppage, or during the restart.

There’s also the conditions here. At Roland Garros last year, the clay was wet and heavy, which favored Nadal’s brutality on the forehand and not Djokovic’s corporate-like pushing style. Djokovic has never been as comfortable on the clay as he has been on hardcourts (81% winning percentage across all levels vs. 84%), so any sort of added variable was bad news.

I believe this will be a much closer affair, and I’m in love with this over. I’d also recommend getting some exposure to Djokovic ML, considering the great deal you’re getting. — Ducey

Pick: Over 37.5 Games (-121)

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Friday MLB Odds, Picks for Cardinals vs. Cubs: Windy Weather at Wrigley Field Drives Betting Market Movement (June 11)

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Cardinals vs. Cubs MLB Odds

Cardinals Odds +123
Cubs Odds -141
Over/Under 9 (-105o/-115u)
Time 2:20 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network

The wind at Wrigley Field always matters whenever the Chicago Cubs are in action.

To illustrate just how impactful a Chicago weather forecast can be, I’m currently writing this introduction on Friday at 9:38 a.m. ET and sportsbooks have yet to open an over/under for today’s Cardinals vs. Cubs matchup which gets underway in less than five hours.

Because the wind is so important, oddsmakers often wait until closer to first pitch before posting totals for Cubs home games.

Sportsbooks need to know both the wind direction and speed as strong breezes blowing out will help long fly balls carry over the wall, thus increasing scoring, while winds blowing into the faces of batters will knock down potential home runs into long fly-ball outs.

As I mentioned above, oddsmakers waited to open a Cardinals vs. Cubs total, and according to latest Wrigley Field weather forecast, this was for very good reason.

Using our sports betting tools, let’s look at the latest Cardinals vs. Cubs weather forecast, with a focus on how bettors can quickly take advantage of Friday’s windy conditions.

Cardinals vs. Cubs MLB Prediction


According to the National Weather Service, 5-10 mph winds are expected today at Wrigley Field, which are certainly strong enough to affect the flight of well-hit balls.

And thanks to Sports Insights’ weather data, we know that these breezes are expected to increase throughout the game and, more importantly, blow in toward home plate.

According to our Bet Labs software, this has been a historically-profitable situation for MLB bettors.

Cubs unders are 354-280-32 since 2005 when winds of at least 5 mph are blowing in at Wrigley Field.

In Cubs day games on their home field, unders improve to 57% over that same span.

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Friday Euro 2020 Odds, Picks, Predictions: Turkey vs. Italy Group A Betting Preview (June 11)

Group A: Turkey vs. Italy Odds

Turkey Odds +800
Italy Odds -240
Draw +340
Over/Under 2.5 (+125 / -152)
Day | Time Friday | 3 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds updated Friday at noon ET via DraftKings.

The sporting spectacle of the summer gets underway on Friday afternoon as Italy takes on Turkey to kick off Euro 2020 in front of 18,500 fans at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

While most folks will think that this match looks like a walkover for the Azzurri considering they are -190 favorites, Turkey have caught some sleeper hype over the past few weeks, shortening from +8000 to +5000 to win the tournament at most sportsbooks. The Italians have also taken money in the future market, coming down from +1100 to +900 over the past fortnight or so.

Let’s dive in.

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Turkey: A Legitimate Sleeper?

Turkey are a high-ceiling, low-floor team that has the talent to pull a result against any team in this competition on their day. To illustrate that point all you need to do is look at the Crescent-Stars’ results leading up to this tournament.

Over the past 18 months or so, Turkey finished bottom of a group that included Russia, Hungary and Serbia in the UEFA Nations League. However, they also earned 3-3 draws against Germany and Croatia; beat the Netherlands, 4-2; dismantled Norway, 3-0; and, then added further confusion by drawing a home against Latvia.

In other words, this is a team that can beat anybody, but also lose to anybody.

Turkey’s defensive record mirrors its Jekyll-and-Hyde nature. After allowing just three goals in 10 games during Euro qualifying, Turkey went ahead and shipped 19 goals over its next 11 matches. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the Crescent-Stars have a solid defense on paper, with Merih Demiral (Juventus), Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester), Ozan Kabak (Liverpool) and Zeki Celik (Lille) featured in the back.

We have no idea which version of Turkey’s defense will show up, but backers can at least be confident that it has the talent to be a sturdy group, and it shouldn’t be overmatched by Switzerland and Wales.

While Turkey’s defense and spine look to be in decent shape, their attack has the potential to make them a bona fide sleeper. Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan) is more than capable of pulling the strings, and he will be supported by a cast that includes Zeki Celik, Burak Yilmaz and Yusuf Yazici, all three of whom are coming to the Euros on the heels of winning Ligue 1 with upstart Lille.

While Italy have more talent in almost every part of the pitch, there are some concerns over the Azzurri’s finishing capabilities. Turkey’s 4-1-4-1 formation could further that issue, as it allows them to get plenty of red shirts behind the ball.

Where Will Italy’s Goals Come From?

It’s really hard to judge form going into an international tournament, since the calendar is stop-start and riddled with meaningless friendlies, but there is no denying what Italy have done since the last World Cup. The Azzurri have not lost a match since Sept. 10, 2018 and have gone unbeaten since Roberto Mancini took over the squad, a streak that sits at 24 matches.

Throw in the fact Italy went 10-0-0 with 37 goals for and only four goals against in their qualifying campaign and it’s easy to see why bookmakers have made Italy -200 favorites to win Group A.

As usual, the Italians are built from the back to the front. Mancini has one of the world’s best goalkeepers — Gianluigi Donnarumma — and he’ll be helped by a backline anchored by veteran Serie A stars Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

The Azzurri also have plenty of star power in the middle of the pitch, with Jorginho, Marco Veratti (who is expected to miss the team’s opening match) and Nicolo Barella.

While their spine and defense is stout as ever, the question for this Italian side will be whether or not it can score enough goals to make its defensive marks hold up.

Although the Italians have productive goalscorers like Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Andrea Belotti in their ranks, they don’t have that prolific target man. That could spell trouble against a Turkish team that did a terrific job keeping the ball out of the back of the net over the past few years.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

It may sound a bit insane, but I think there is a viable path to an upset for Turkey in this match.

For one, I expect Turkey to be set-up to frustrate the Italians. They’ll have no problem ceding possession to the Azzurri and will instead focus on being well-organized in their own third to prevent Italy from creating many quality scoring chances. Italy’s strikers are much more comfortable running onto the ball in behind defenses rather than breaking them down, so I’m actually pretty confident that Soyuncu and Demiral will provide Turkey a platform to perhaps nick a point or three in this match.

Should the defense hold up, watch out because Turkey have plenty of talent to knock Italy back on the counter. Bonucci and Chiellini have defied age thus far in their careers, but with this tournament coming on the heels of basically 12 months of non-stop football, I would not be shocked to see the Azzurri give up a few golden chances on the break in this one.

I think Turkey are a live underdog even on the road and can be bet in a number of ways. You can take them on the two-way moneyline (if they draw, you push), back them on the spread or, if you’re feeling froggy, take a shot on the Crescent-Stars at 7/1.

Is there a better way to start off the Euros than by backing a +700 underdog? I think not.

Pick: Turkey +700

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Angels vs. Diamondbacks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Shohei Ohtani to Start vs. Struggling Arizona (Friday, June 11)

Angels vs. Diamondbacks Odds

Angels Odds -139
Diamondbacks Odds +120
Over/Under 9
Time Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

The Angels and Diamondbacks are heading in opposite directions entering Friday, but that could all change with one of Arizona‘s top arms heading to the hill in Merrill Kelly. The D-backs’ right-hander has been a workhorse and might represent a taller task for Los Angeles than it has seen in quite a few games.

With that said, the line here is awfully close, and Shohei Ohtani is just a short -135 favorite. Is it a good time to take the bait and back the MVP hopeful?

Let’s dig into the matchup and find out.

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Ohtani Takes Mound vs. Woeful Offense

In a stark contrast to the Diamondbacks, the Angels have found their stride lately. This team has won eight out of its last 11 games, coming off an impressive sweep over the red-hot Royals.

In even better news, it will now send its ace — Ohtani — to the mound against a lineup that’s licking its wounds at the moment.

While it’s always a guessing game as to whether Ohtani will hit in games that he pitches, it might not matter with how he’s been throwing the ball. The right-hander is generating a whiff rate in the top 8% of baseball and a massive 34.1% strikeout rate, both of which should play up against a Diamondbacks lineup struggling to put the bat on the ball, which we’ll get to later.

What’s more, the power is completely gone for the Diamondbacks and giving up hard-hit balls is probably the only thing that has held Ohtani back this year. Well, that and walks, but Arizona isn’t doing much of that either.


Can’t Get Much Worse for Arizona, Right?

Well, it couldn’t be going much worse for the Diamondbacks. They’ve lost 21 of 23 games dating back to May 16, including seven in a row after consecutive sweeps at the hands of the Brewers and A’s.

So, what has gone wrong over the last 30 days?

Well, let’s start offensively, where the D-backs rank fourth-to-last in strikeout rate at 26%. They’re also bottom-six in walk-rate (7.3%) and contact rate (74.2%). The at-bats have been brutal, and that’s despite returning a ton of players off the injured list. Asdrúbal Cabrera is hitting .154 in his first seven games back, Carson Kelly is .149 in 15 contests and Christian Walker is hitting just .214. Combined, the three also have just two homers.

When Arizona fell into a rut earlier in the year, the absence of those three — and Ketel Marte — was supposed to be the excuse for some sluggish hitting. It turns out that the return of those names, though Marte’s been really good, hasn’t changed much.

Pitching-wise, things haven’t been much better. Arizona has the second-worst staff ERA at 5.43. Friday’s starter, Kelly, hasn’t exactly helped that mark with an ERA close to 5.00 over the last 30 days, but he’s actually been one of the Diamondbacks’ best pitchers.

Despite a 5.12 ERA on the year, Kelly’s 4.50 xERA indicates there’s some room for improvement, and his average strikeout rate combined with an above-average walk rate provides some hope here.

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Angels-Diamondbacks Pick

When you see a line this short on a game you think should be academic, there’s always a story behind the odds. The fact is, Kelly has been very good on the hill and though the Angels have been hitting the ball well, few of these offensive explosions have come against good pitching.

With that said, I don’t see a way into this game for the Diamondbacks. I have backed them a few times during this losing streak, believing in some of their talent.

Without the ability to exploit Ohtani’s weaknesses, though, I’m not sure they’re going to fare very well.

At any rate, you’re almost always going to be better off backing a trend as opposed to guessing when it’s going to end, so I’ll take the Angels here to stay with that winning strategy. If all else fails, we can rely on a bad Arizona bullpen to get us back in the game.

Pick: Angels -139

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Stanford vs. Texas Tech College Baseball Super Regional Odds, Projections & Series Schedule

stanford vs. texas tech-college baseball-super regionals-lubbock-betting-odds-picks-predictions-college world series

Stanford vs. Texas Tech Odds & Schedule

Lubbock Regional: June 11-13*

Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
Stanford
+125
+110
+2200
Texas Tech
-150
-135
+1400
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.
  • Game 1: Friday, 3 p.m. ET on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Saturday, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Game 3*: Sunday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

No. 9 Stanford (36-15) vs. No. 8 Texas Tech (45-15)

Series Betting Analysis

Stanford didn’t break a sweat hosting a regional, capturing victories over North Dakota State and UC Irvine in the first two games, bashing runs for a combined score of 21-5.

The Cardinal took a loss to the Anteaters in Sunday’s game after a disastrous eighth inning from pitchers Joey Dixon and Jacob Palisch, who combined for six earned runs. Both pitchers returned in the regional final on Monday to close out an 11-8 victory to move onto Lubbock.

Stanford does have holes in its season-long statistics — mainly its rank of 140th in strikeout-to-walk ratio and its mark of 73rd in slugging percentage.

To win in Lubbock, the Trees must amp up the long-ball, an area in which Stanford ranks 26th in home runs per game.

Texas Tech is one of the best hitting teams in the country, a perfect fit for Jones AT&T Stadium. Lubbock has the highest rating in Park Factors for runs and home runs through all the remaining super regionals.

Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
Stanford
Texas Tech
Proj.
1
Alex Williams
Chase Hampton
TTU -160
2
Brendan Beck
Patrick Monteverde
TTU -140
3*
Quinn Mathews
Mason Montgomery
TTU -185

Where the Red Raiders get in trouble is pitching, as they own a rank of 46th in ERA and 121st in walks allowed per nine innings. None of the three starters in the regional round eclipsed 90 pitches in an outing.

Where Stanford has the biggest advantage is fielding percentage, as it sits 13th in the nation compared to Texas Tech at 84th. The issue with that stat is the ability to keep the ball in the yard against the Red Raiders, especially Jace Jung and Cal Conley, who combined for 36 homers on the season.

The starting pitching projections and bullpen FIP dictate a series price of Texas Tech -230.

The current listing of Texas Tech -134 is a value against a Stanford team that consistently walks opponents and does not possess near the firepower from an offensive perspective.

Pick: Texas Tech -134 (up to -230)

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Bucks and Nets Low-Scoring Game 3 Makes Sports Betting History

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Game 3 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets felt more like a Game 7 as the teams slugged their way to an 86-83 final, setting some postseason ‘history’ in the process.

The 169 combined points finished 66 points below the closing total of 235, making the biggest margin to the under in the NBA Playoffs in the last 30 years.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Bucks got the job done holding off a late Kevin Durant flurry and escaping a few late-game floaters from Bruce Brown to hold serve on home court and cut the series deficit to 2-1.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo (33) and Khris Middleton (35) combined for 68 of the team’s 86 points with no other player reaching double-figures.

For the Nets, Durant led the way with 30 points but was just 11-of-28 from the floor. Kyrie Irving added 22 with Brown scoring 16, but Joe Harris (1-11) and Blake Griffin (2-5) combined for just eight points.

Brooklyn covered the +3.5-point spread.

The previous record for a postseason total going under was between the Jazz and Denver Nuggets in 2020 when the teams combined for 158 points, finishing 59.5 points under the 217.5 total.

That was Game 7 of a wildly high-scoring first-round series in the bubble.

The Celtics and Pacers finished 52.5 points under the total of 210.5 in 2019. That was in Game 1 of that first-round series. The second game ended at 190 total points, under the total of 206.5. That was up from the opening number of 204, which shows the 6.5-point adjustment made by oddsmakers.

The Celtics were involved in another first-round game that stayed well under the total, finishing 44.5 points below the 205.5 total against the Hawks in 2015-16. That was Game 2. Game 3 finished with 214 total points, going over the 203.5 number. That was up from the opening line of 200.

Game 4 between the Bucks and Nets opened 230.5, down from Thursday night’s 235 and it has already moved to 229.5 (real-time odds here). The two teams will meet on Sunday in a pivotal Game 4 as Milwaukee looks to even the series.

DraftKings UFC 263 Odds, Promo: Bet Adesanya at 100-1 Odds!

UFC is back with another big PPV even this Saturday night!

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Euro 2020 Odds, Picks, Predictions, Format: A Bettor’s Guide to Europe’s Biggest Tournament

euro 2020-betting-preview-dates-format-picks-best bets

Few sporting events in the world can match the pageantry, spectacle and drama of the European Championships.

International soccer’s second-biggest competition has been held every four years since 1960, with the 2020 competition being postponed until this year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

While it was disappointing at the time to see Euro 2020 delayed, it will add a welcome boost to the summer, as bettors will have the opportunity to sink their teeth into 51 matches over the next month.

There’s a lot to unpack for a tournament of this magnitude, so we’ve put together a comprehensive betting guide with the dates, odds, format and analysis for every group.

(Click below to jump to the analysis for each group.)

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F

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Euro 2020 Odds

Odds via DraftKings 

TEAM ODDS
France +500
England +550
Belgium +600
Portugal +800
Germany +900
Spain +900
Italy +1100
Netherlands +1400
Denmark +2500
Croatia +4000
Turkey +5000
Switzerland +7000
Sweden +7500
Poland +8000
Austria +10000
Russia +10000
Ukraine +10000
Wales +10000
Czech Republic +15000
Finland +30000
Scotland +30000
Slovakia +30000
Hungary +30000
North Macedonia +50000

As you can see from the odds, bookmakers believe there are eight legitimate contenders. France and England are the consensus favorites, but they have plenty of stiff competition from usual powers like Belgium, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. There is a drop-off after those teams, with Denmark serving as the bridge between the contenders and the dark horses.

Because the top of the tournament is so prolific, the mid-tier is pretty thin. There are only six teams listed between +2500 and +10000 odds. That means the bottom of the board is pretty robust, with 10 teams at 100/1 or longer. In fact, there are five teams sitting at +30000 or higher, with North Macedonia priced as the biggest longshot at +50000 odds.

It is worth noting that there have been some major shocks at the Euros in the past. In 1992, Denmark won the tournament only after getting into the field because Yugoslavia had to pull out due to a civil war. In 2004, the infamous Piratiko Greek team shocked the world to win the tournament as 80/1 outsiders.

Euro 2020 Dates

  • Group Stage: June 11-23
  • Round of 16: June 25-29
  • Quarterfinals: July 2-3
  • Semifinals: July 6-7
  • Final: July 11

Euro 2020 Format

The top two teams from each group advance to the knockout stage, along with the four best third-place teams. For example, this is how the third-place teams finished at France ’16.

Since each team plays only three matches in the group stage, ties should be expected. However it’s important to note that we have two different sets of tiebreakers, one for the individual group finishing positions and another set for the ranking of third-place teams.

FABIO FRUSTACI/ANSA/AFP via Getty Images.

Euro 2020: Group A Odds & Preview

By: Michael Leboff

Team Group Odds Outright Odds
Italy -200 +1100
Switzerland +450 +7000
Turkey +550 +5000
Wales +900 +10000

Handicapping international soccer is just as much art as it is science. The numbers remain the most important factor, but the nature of these tournaments means you need to consider the extenuating circumstances when you size up the field. Unquantifiable elements like squad chemistry,

On paper, Group A looks pretty straightforward. Italy is an odds-on favorite at -200 (66.7% implied probability), while Switzerland, Turkey and Wales are expected to battle amongst themselves for the No. 2 spot.

Should we expect Group A to go according to script? Or do one of the others pose a threat to The Azzurri?

The Favorite

It’s really hard to judge form going into an international tournament since the calendar is stop-start and riddled with meaningless friendlies, but there is no denying what Italy has done since the last World Cup. The Azzurri have not lost a match since Sept. 10, 2018 and have gone unbeaten since Roberto Mancini took over the squad, a streak that sits at 24 matches.

Throw in the fact Italy went 10-0-0 with 37 goals for and only four goals against in its qualifying campaign and it’s easy to see why bookmakers expect Italy to win this group nearly 67% of the time.

However, things aren’t always straightforward at the Euros. In 2016 (the first year the field was expanded to 24 teams), we saw Hungary top a group ahead of Portugal and a trendy Austrian side, while Wales beat out England to headline their foursome.

As usual, the Italians are built from the back to the front. Mancini has one of the world’s best goalkeepers — Gianluigi Donnarumma — and he’ll be helped by a backline anchored by veteran Serie A stars Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

The Azzurri also have plenty of star power in the middle of the pitch, with Jorginho, Marco Veratti (who is expected to miss the team’s opening match) and Nicolo Barella.

Italy’s success will likely come down to whether or not it can score enough goals. Although the Italians have productive goalscorers like Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Andrea Belotti in their ranks, they don’t have that prolific target man other contenders have and thus you can expect the goals to be spread out for Mancini’s squad.

That said, there’s a clear gap between the Azzurri and the rest of this group. Italy has world-class talent at basically every position and enough depth to make adjustments for injuries, suspensions or poor form. They will be big favorites in each match and aren’t really a volatile squad. Italy might not light up the scoresheet, but its defense projects to be good enough that it won’t need to score three goals a game to get a result.

Italy is the  clear frontrunner, but if you’re interested in investing in the Azzurri, I’d suggest going bigger, like backing them to win the tournament at 11/1 odds. Italy’s path to success looks more than viable, as they would likely play either Austria or Ukraine in the Round of 16.

A date with Belgium is the likeliest outcome after that, but it’s not worth getting too caught up in projecting that far ahead in a tournament with this many twists and turns. The point is, there’s no Group of Death, nor is there a daunting Round of 16 matchup looming for the Azzurri.

If you aren’t all that excited by +1100 in a tournament this deep, but want to invest in the Azzurri, you can look to the Players Futures market for some value. I am particularly interested in backing Nicolo Barella to win Young Player of the Tournament at +3300 odds via DraftKings.

Barella was terrific in the middle of the pitch for Inter Milan during their title-winning campaign. And although he isn’t a prolific scorer, Barella can be the key facilitator for a team that has a great chance to make a deep run.

Pictured: Turkey standout Cengiz Under. Photo credit. Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images.

Sleeper Watch: Turkey +5000

Turkey are a high-ceiling, low-floor team that has the talent to pull a result against any team in this competition on their day. To illustrate that point all you need to do is look at the Crescent-Stars’ results leading up to this tournament.

Over the past 18 months or so, Turkey finished bottom of a group that included Russia, Hungary and Serbia in the UEFA Nations League. However, it also earned 3-3 draws against Germany and Croatia; beat the Netherlands, 4-2; dismantled Norway, 3-0; and, then added further confusion by drawing a home against Latvia.

In other words, this is a team that can beat anybody, but also lose to anybody.

Turkey’s defensive record mirrors its Jekyll-and-Hyde nature. After allowing just three goals in 10 games during Euro qualifying, Turkey went ahead and shipped 19 goals over its next 11 matches. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the Crescent-Stars have a solid defense on paper, with Merih Demiral (Juventus), Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester), Ozan Kabak (Liverpool) and Zeki Celik (Lille) featured in the back.

We have no idea which version of Turkey’s defense will show up, but backers can at least be confident that it has the talent to be a sturdy group and it shouldn’t be overmatched by Switzerland and Wales.

While Turkey’s defense and spine look to be in decent shape, its attack has the potential to make it a bona fide sleeper. Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan) is more than capable of pulling the strings and he will be supported by a cast that includes Zeki Celik, Burak Yilmaz and Yusuf Yazici, all three of whom are coming to the Euros on the heels of winning Ligue 1 with upstart Lille.

Just like with any longshot in this tournament, Turkey lacks some depth and has a couple of weak spots, but I’d also argue that the Crescent-Stars have the strongest starting XI of any team in the mid-tier and have the upside you need from an outsider.

In addition to the talent on the roster, Turkey also has a decent path to the quarterfinals if it can manage to finish second (or first) in Group A. If it finishes as runner-up, Turkey’s likeliest opponent in the Round of 16 would be Denmark and a possible showdown with the Netherlands awaiting in the quarterfinals.

We’ve seen some big longshots win the Euros in the past. In 1992, Denmark won the competition only after taking Yugoslavia’s spot in the tournament because of a civil war. Twelve years later, it was The Piratiko Greek team that won Euro 2004 as 80/1 outsiders.

While most of the time these tournaments will go to the headliners, there is always at least a little bit of chaos at the Euros and I think Turkey is a great candidate to be the causers of said chaos.

One thing I will note is that Turkey’s price has come down from 80/1 to 50/1 over the past few weeks. While 50/1 is still a good price, you can possibly get a better number by waiting out its tournament-opening match against Italy. The Azzurri are -175 favorites to win that match and if they do, the Crescent-Stars’ price should get longer.

Turnkey doesn’t need to win the match against Italy to advance, so while you run the risk of losing out on 50/1 should it win or draw with the group favorite, there is a pretty good chance you can get a much better number should it lose.

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Switzerland standout Breel Embolo.

Don’t Forget About Longshot Switzerland at +7000

Switzerland always seem to be in the muddled middle when it comes to the Euros or the World Cup. They feel like a sure-fire bet to make it out of the group stage, but at the same time it’s hard to get excited about its prospects of making a deep run.

The Swiss do have a strong spine with Nico Elvedi, Manuel Akanji at the base; Denis Zakaria and Granit Xhaka in the middle; and, Breel Embolo at the top, plus the mercurial Xherdan Shaqiri is always a threat to steal a game at a moment’s notice. However, the Rossocrociati lack the depth and high-end talent I’m looking for in a team that could be a surprise package in an event that’s this top heavy. 

It is worth noting Switzerland is actually slightly shorter than Turkey to win Group A, but Turkey’s outright odds are shorter to win the whole tournament. That makes sense because, while Switzerland projects to be a well-organized team that shouldn’t lose games to lesser opposition, it doesn’t really have the upside needed to pull off the string of upsets needed to crash the gates deeper in the tournament.

All that said, it’s more likely than not that Switzerland advances into the Round of 16, whether it be through finishing second or being one of the four best third-place teams. And if they do wind up in second, the path opens up and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if the Swiss win a knock-out game or two.


The Also-Ran: Wales +10000

There were a lot of shockers at Euro 2016, but Wales was the tournament’s surprise package. The Dragons made it out of a group with England, Russia and Slovakia, took care of Northern Ireland in the Round of 16 and then pulled off one of the results of the tournament with an upset of Belgium in the quarterfinals.

In 2016, Wales had Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey operating at the height of their powers and had a supporting cast that consisted of solid players like Ashely Williams, Joe Allen and Ben Davies. While Bale and Ramsey will be back for Euro 2020, they are now five years older and past their prime. They are both still capable of turning a match on its head, but it’s hard to imagine them carrying this team deep into the tournament at this stage of their careers.

Instead, I’d guess that Wales will try to play a conservative style of soccer and rely on players like Joe Rodon, Ethan Ampadu,  Neco Williams and Ben Davies to keep the Dragons in games against superior opposition and hope Bale or Ramsey can create something to nick a point or three.

That strategy can work in a tournament that allows 16 of 24 teams through to the knock-out stage, but I still think Wales are a clear fourth in this set and being a bit overvalued thanks to its surprise 2016 run.


Best Bets for Group A:

  • Turkey to win the Euros (+5000)
  • Wales eliminated in group stage (-125)
  • Nicolo Barella to win Young Player of the Tournament (+3300)

Group A Projected Match Odds

Read more about BJ Cunningham’s EURO 2020 Projections here:


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Euro 2020: Group B Odds & Preview

By: Ian Nicholas Quillen

Team Group Odds Outright Odds
Belgium -139 +600
Denmark +260 +2500
Russia +525 +10000
Finland +3000 +50000

Group B might not have a “traditional” power among its four teams for the Euro 2020 tournament.

However, it featured the top team in FIFA world rankings in Belgium and the seventh-highest ranked team on the continent in Denmark, making it a more difficult group than it looks to be at first glance.

Throw in Denmark playing every game in Copenhagen and Russia contesting two of three matches in Saint Petersburg, and there’s plenty of reason for excitement within this group.

Unless, perhaps, you’re Finland.

Manager Roberto Martinez of Belgium chats with members of the media. Photo credit: Vincent Van Doornick/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images.

Powerful Belgium Earns Deserved Favorite Status

Belgium has been the world’s No. 1-ranked team since October of 2018, plus it has been hovering at or near the top far longer. Yet, this golden generation is still looking for major silverware to solidify its legacy after finishing third at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

In countries with a more successful football history, that might ratchet up the pressure. However, it’s actually fifth-year manager Roberto Martinez often pushing both his side and its fans to dream bigger.

That said, now would be the time to do so. Belgium earned a perfect 30 points in its Group I qualification, including a pair of wins over group foe Russia by a combined five-goal margin. Romelu Lukaku tied for second in the group with seven goals, and Eden Hazard tied for third with five goals.

The Red Devils followed that up by taking seven points from nine so far in UEFA qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with their lone blemish coming via a 1-1 away draw against the Czech Republic.

Belgium does have a few injury concerns, though.

Attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (facial fractures) is questionable for Belgium’s opening match after sustaining facial injuries in Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League final defeat.

Defensive midfielder Axel Witsel has joined full-team training after months recovering from an Achilles injury, but likely can’t handle a typical workload.

Denmark standout Christian Eriksen dribbles the ball during an international friendly with Germany. Photo credit: Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Sleeper Watch: Denmark Poised to Ruffle Foes’ Feathers

The Danes are the original Euro sleepers, having come from seemingly nowhere to win the 1992 European championship.

And currently, they sit 10th in the FIFA rankings after reaching the round of 16 in the 2018 World Cup and going unbeaten (four wins and four draws) in Euro qualifying action.

Yet, Denmark finds itself in transition after swapping managers following the aforementioned qualifying round. Manager Kasper Hjulmand took over last year after Åge Hareide’s contract expired. Fortunately for the Danes, the results have been excellent. They have taken three wins in three tries, with a plus-14 goal differential in World Cup qualifying.

If there’s a criticism, it’s the nation’s inability to turn its domination of minnows into success against the elite. Most recently, Denmark lost two matches against Belgium in UEFA Nations League A competition, though it also earned a 1-0 win and scoreless draw against England.

Attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen scored three goals in Inter Milan’s Serie A title-winning campaign. Forwards Martin Brathwaite (Barcelona) and Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig) have only 13 combined goals over the past two league campaigns.

Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, right, battles for the ball during a match against Russia. Photo credit: Rafal Rusek/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images.

More Home Cooking for Russia?

After a far-better-than-expected performance while hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Russia will be looking for a repeat while playing two of its three group matches in Saint Petersburg.

It’s fair to question if its squad is capable of that.

The quality at manager Stanislav Cherchesov’s disposal is clearly off the pace of Belgium and Denmark. All but four of his players are based in the Russian Premier League, which is ranked sixth in the world by Kick Algorithm.

Elsewhere in Europe, midfielder Aleksandr Golovin is coming off his most productive season at Monaco with five goals and nine assists in 21 appearances. Aleksei Miranchuk scored four goals in 25 games via mostly a substitute role in his first season with Serie A power Atalanta.

Russia’s defense has conceded 12 goals over its last five competitive matches between Nations League and World Cup Qualifying play.


More Analysis, Thoughts From Group B Competition

With apologies to a Finland side competing in its first major tournament finals, the story for me is whether Belgium’s quality can rise above its two opponents’ home-field advantages.

Hosting has proven less advantageous in recent years. Between 1980 and 2004, only one host nation failed to progress past the group stage — Belgium in 2000. Since then, four of the last five hosts have failed to reach the knockout phase of the tournament.

It’s still a clear edge to Denmark and Russia when they face Belgium before partial capacity crowds. And it’s imperative to factor in when evaluating the Red Devils (-139 odds) and a 58.2% implied probability to win the group.

On the other hand, the defenses could be key to Lukaku’s Golden Boot bid. He’s already in form, nearing career bests by scoring 24 goals to help Inter Milan win the Scudetto and averaging 0.75 goals per 90 minutes.

Internationally, the numbers are even more impressive. Lukaku has 14 goals in his 12 competitive appearances, and 1.22 goals per 90 minutes. Belgium has already scored 13 times in its last four combined matches against Russia and Denmark. The other opponent in the group is the weakest.

Lukaku is the second favorite in the Golden Boot futures market at +700 odds, with an 12.5% implied probability. Yet, he still might be undervalued.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois makes a save during a training session. Photo credit: Dirk Waem/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images.

Best Bets for Group B:

  • Group Winner — Denmark (+260): I wouldn’t favor Danes to win the group per se, but they’re clearly closer to Belgium in caliber when compared to Russia or Finland, plus they get to play every game in Copenhagen. A 27.8% implied probability of a mild surprise is low to me.
  • Golden Boot — Romelu Lukaku (+700): Harry Kane’s England gets Croatia and the Czech Republic. France’s Kylian Mbappe faces Portugal and Germany. Lukaku clearly has the easier opportunity to rack up some early goals.
  • Double Chance — Finland or Draw vs. Russia (+110): A feel play based on the enormous geopolitical implications. Finland could earn only one point this tournament. If it comes against Russia, it returns home national heroes.
  • Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 3.5 Goals (+255): This is an aging Russian defense going against an in-its-prime Belgian attack. If the hosts are going to earn a result, it’s unlikely to be a 0-0 or 1-1 draw. The total went over 3.5 goals in both these teams’ qualifiers, with Belgium scoring seven times in total.

Group B Projections

Read more about BJ Cunningham’s EURO 2020 Projections here.

Group B Projected Match Odds


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Euro 2020: Group C Odds & Preview

By: BJ Cunningham

Team Group Odds Outright Odds
Netherlands -250 +1400
Austria +525 +10000
Ukraine +575 +10000
North Macedonia +4000 +50000

Group C of the Euro 2020 tournament is widely regarded as the weakest group in the competition. That’s rightly so, since none of the countries qualified for the World Cup in 2018. And based on their current outright odds, the quartet doesn’t have a team inside 10/1 to win the showcase.

Netherlands is the clear favorite at -278 odds, but the results produced by Austria and Ukraine during Euro qualifying were impressive, so could they potentially take down the young talented Dutchmen?

As for North Macedonia, it’s the Cinderella heartthrob of this tournament. It’s the nation’s first major international competition (it has only been a country since 1990) and just recently pulled off a historic upset against Germany as 28/1 underdogs.

Will there be chaos in the “weakest” group in the tournament or will Netherlands cruise through without much of a sweat?

The Favorite: Netherlands Leading Way in Group

It’s been some time since the glory days of Dutch football when Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben took the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, then 2014 World Cup semifinal round. However, since then, the Netherlands has been in a downward spiral.

The Flying Dutchmen failed to qualify for both the 2016 Euros and the 2018 World Cup, so this will be their first major tournament in six years, which is quite embarrassing for a country with such rich tradition and success.

However, you could make the argument the Netherlands has the most young talent of anybody in this tournament. The Dutch have two of the best players under the age of 24 in center back Matthijs de Ligt, who plays for Juventus, and central midfielder/Barcelona standout Frankie de Jong.

Both of those players hold a transfer value over $80 million, according to TransferMarkt.

Even though the Dutch are going to be without the best defender in the world in Liverpool’s Virgil van Djik, the center of their defense is still stacked with the previously mentioned de Ligt and Inter Milan defender Stephan de Vrij, who was a key part of their Serie A title winning defense that allowed only 1.07 expected goals per match.

Netherlands finished second to Germany in its qualifying group, but its defense was incredibly impressive, allowing just 1.03 xG per match. In fact, if you take out its two matches against Germany and include the three World Cup qualifying matches from late March, the Dutch defense has allowed a total of 5.33 expected goals in nine matches.

The midfield is young, but loaded with talent. De Jong is one of the best central midfielders in the world, but the Flying Dutchmen have even more young talent in the form of 19-year-old Ryan Gravenberch, who plays for Ajax and is already being linked to the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea.

However, it’s not just youth in the midfield. The Dutch also have experienced defensive midfield Marten de Roon, who has been a key cog for Atalanta that has led the Italian side to finish inside the top four in the Serie A the past four seasons. Let’s also not forget about Georginio Wijnaldum, who was a fantastic attacking midfielder for Liverpool and reportedly just sealed a move to PSG.

Netherlands striker Memphis Depay. Photo credit: ANP Sport via Getty Images.

The Dutch offense is led by Memphis Depay, who has been lighting up Ligue 1 defenses for Lyon. This year, the 28-year-old bagged 21 goals, dished out 12 assists and put up a 0.50 xG per 90-minute scoring rate. Netherlands also has a talented, young striker in Donyell Malen, who scored 27 goals in 45 appearances for PSV Eindhoven this season. Suffice it to say, Malen might be someone to watch in this competition.

The Flying Dutchmen been very impressive during both Euro and World Cup qualifying, averaging 2.84 xG per match, which is the third-best mark coming into the tournament behind Spain and Italy. Now, they haven’t played the stiffest of competition, but in their two matches against Germany during Euro qualifying, the Dutch created a total over 4.60 xG in the games.

All in all, the Dutch should be able to cruise through this group, with first place being a priority. If they win Group C, the Dutch would play a third-place team from Groups D, E, or F in the Round of 16 and then the second-place finisher from Group A or B, which would likely be Denmark, Turkey or Switzerland.

So, I think there is some value on the Dutch to win the Euros at +1400, since they wouldn’t have to face another group winner until the semifinals.


Sleeper Watch: Longshot Austria Alive at 90-1 Odds

The Austrians will be a team to watch in this group, because they come in a little under the radar. They were in one of the easiest qualifying groups, finishing second to Poland, but had the best underlying metrics, averaging 2.57 xG per match, while only allowing 0.92 xG per outing.

Now, the last time they were on the field they got routed in a 4-0 loss against Denmark in a World Cup qualifier, but the Danes only out created them by a 1.61-0.84 margin in expected goals.

There is some really nice talent on the Austria roster, led by former Bayern Munich and new Real Madrid left back David Alaba.

The real strength of the Austrians, though, is in their midfield and they have three really talented central midfielders in Marcel Sabitzer and Konrad Laimer, who both play for RB Leipzig, and Wolfsburg standout Xaver Schlager. These three should be able to dominate against both Ukraine and North Macedonia, which I think gives Austria a fantastic opportunity to finish second in this group behind the Netherlands.

The Austrians are led up front by 23-year-old Sasa Kalajdzic, who scored 16 goals in 33 appearances for Bundesliga side Vfb Stuttgart this season and carried a 0.47 xG per 90 minute scoring rate, which was the best on the team. He also scored three of Austria’s five goals in their World Cup qualifying matches back in late March.

So, if you’re looking for a team that’s solid in defense, the midfield, on the attack and has an easy path out of its group, Austria to finish top two in this quartet has a lot of value.


The Overrated: Ukraine Simply Not As Good As Record Shows

Ukraine is unbeaten in both Euro and World Cup qualifying, but its one of the most unimpressive stellar runs when you look at its underlying metrics. The Ukrainians only won the expected-goals battle in five of their 11 qualifying matches, and actually only had a +0.9 xGD despite winning qualifying Group B.

When you look at Ukraine’s roster, you probably aren’t going to recognize a lot of names at first glance. That’s because most of their players are with either Dynamo Kiev or Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian Premier League.

Now, playing for Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk isn’t a bad thing, as both clubs qualified for the Champions League last season. However, not playing in one of the top five European leagues does give them a little bit of a knock, because they aren’t playing the best competition on a week in, week out basis.

In fact, the Ukrainian Premier League is the 12th-most difficult league to play in based on UEFA coefficients over the past five years.

However, if Ukraine makes it out of the group stage, which is likely if it can beat North Macedonia and draw with Austria, there’s one long shot from this Ukrainian team that I love. His name is Ruslan Malinovskyi. He’s an attacking midfielder for Atalanta in Serie A, who I’m betting him to lead the tournament in assists.

Malinovskyi actually led the Italian top flight with 12 assists for one of the most prolific attacks in European soccer and had the second-highest expected-assist rate in Italy at 0.49 per 90 minutes. He’s the main cog that runs the Ukrainian attack and will be involved in a lot of its goals.

If Ukraine is able to play four or five matches in this tournament and blow out North Macedonia, he could put up some pretty big assists numbers. Here’s the best part: he’s 125/1 on DraftKings to lead the tournament in assists, so I absolutely loves his value.

_BookPromo=1020


North Macedonia Enters as Group’s Cinderella

It’s hard not to feel romantic about North Macedonia. For one, this is its first major tournament in the country’s history and two, it’s only been a country since 1990. The nation finished third in its qualifying group behind Poland and Austria, then needed to beat Kosovo and Georgia in the qualifying playoffs to reach the tournament.

However, while it’s a fantastic story, North Macedonia is one of the three worst teams in the competition. It has a couple of guys on its roster you might recognize like 37 year-old Genoa striker Goran Pandev, who has the most goals and appearances for North Macedonia.

Also in the mix are Eljif Elmas, who is an attacking midfielder for Napoli; Ezgjan Alioski, a left back for Leeds United; and, Enis Bardhi, a winger for La Liga side Levante. Outside of them, though, it’s pretty bleak.

During the Euro qualifying stage, North Macedonia didn’t put up much of a fight against Poland and Austria. In its four matches against those teams, it lost all four by a combined score of 9-2 and was out-created on expected goals by a 10.77-2.49 margin.

So, even though the last time it was on the pitch it pulled off that historic upset over Germany, I don’t see how North Macedonia makes it out of the group.


Best Bets for Group C:

  • Netherlands to win the Euros (+1400)
  • Austria to finish top 2 in Group C (-106)
  • Ruslan Malinovskyi to have the most assists in the Euros (+12500)

Group C Projected Match Odds

Read more about BJ Cunningham’s EURO 2020 Projections here.


» Return to the table of contents «


Euro 2020: Group D Odds & Preview

By: Matthew Trebby

Team Group Odds Outright Odds
England -215 +550
Croatia +300 +4000
Czech Republic +900 +15000
Scotland +1300 +30000

Group D will be housed in the United Kingdom, with Wembley Stadium and Hampden Park in Glasgow serving as the home stadiums.

The two iconic British venues will be host to four intriguing teams that will look to attack, with one of them entering the tournament as the team with the second lowest odds to win it all.

The Favorite

Oddmakers clearly think this is England’s group to lose. Manager Gareth Southgate’s men are at -215 odds to win the group and +550 to win the tournament.

On paper, the Three Lions have some fantastic promise. Harry Kane is one of world soccer’s best goalscorers, with plenty of playmakers around him. Mason Mount is the only sure thing to feature behind him as the link between midfield and attack.

Out wide, the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling all have legitimate cases to be in the England starting lineup. Good luck to Southgate picking two of them for England’s opening match.

Manager Gareth Southgate of England interacts with Ben Godfrey. Photo credit: Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images.

Southgate’s preferred formation appears to be a 4-2-3-1 going forward and more of a 4-4-2 when the opposition has the ball. In two friendlies leading up to Euro 2020, Grealish played as a No. 10 behind the striker in the middle of the field. The Aston Villa playmaker thrived wide to the left this season for his club, but Southgate’s preference might be to get as many of his attackers on the field as possible, which makes that the ideal formation.

It does seem like that would be Mount’s spot in the team normally, though, given how the Chelsea man has been deployed by Southgate since last September.

Don’t be surprised if 17-year-old Jude Bellingham is a standout performer for England in the midfield as well. He showed this season with Borussia Dortmund that confidence is not an issue on the ball, becoming a fixture in the starting lineup by the end of the season.

This is the most talented England team in a long time, more than the 2018 squad because of the young attacking options that have broken through. I’m not looking to bet them to win the group or tournament, though.

I’m not backing England to win the group simply because they have been very unconvincing against quality opposition over the past year, and there are two matchups against teams that will look to play with them step for step (Croatia and Czech Republic) and one against a Scotland team that will be up for the game and stay solid defensively.

The main reason to avoid England is a lack of familiarity on the pitch among the squad. No doubt these players are all very familiar with each other, but they haven’t actually played much together. Kane has tended to fade in big games throughout his career, and Sancho hasn’t hit the same heights for England as he has for Dortmund.

The most reliable player in England’s attack is Rashford, who scored a penalty in an unconvincing 1-0 win over Romania on Sunday. It wouldn’t shock me if he and Foden started on the wings against Croatia in the opening match.

This squad is talented, no question. But I’ll likely be looking to back them come the 2022 World Cup. This summer is just too early.


Don’t Forget About Us: Croatia Enters as Live Underdog

While England is entering its prime, this is quite possibly the last hurray for Croatia, which sits at +300 odds to win the group.

In September 2020, Ivan Rakitić surprisingly retired from international duty. The Croatians rode a midfield trio of Rakitic, captain Luka Modrić and Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic to the World Cup final in 2018, so Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic will likely slide into Rakitić’s place.

Modric is 35 and still playing at a crazy high level. Winger Ivan Perisic is 32. Center backs Domagoj Vida (32) and Dejan Lovren (31) return after stellar performances in the last World Cup.

There is youth in this team, but the old guard remains strong. I won’t bet against all of these players getting to next year’s World Cup, even if it’ll be six months later.

The Croatians will control every game because of their midfield, even possibly against England. Modrić and Brozovic are coming off fantastic seasons at club level, with Brozovic anchoring a Serie A-winning midfield. They’ll remain composed against England’s young talent and focused against the likes of the Czech Republic and Scotland.

Croatia star Luka Modrić. Photo credit: Trond Tandberg/Getty Images.

Sleeper Watch: Czech Republic (+400 to reach quarterfinals)

Oddly, you don’t want to win Group D.

The winner of Group D gets the runner-up from Group F, which features France, Germany and Portugal. The Group D runner-up gets the runner-up from Group E (Spain, Sweden, Poland and Slovakia). Third from Group D would play either the Group B winner (likely Belgium) or first place from Group C, where the Netherlands are favored.

Bottom line, no team is going to tank in group play. This isn’t the NBA.

That means if everything goes as expected, England will win the group. Scotland (I’ll get to them in a bit) will likely be the odd team out, which leaves the aforementioned Croatians and Czech Republic.

The Czechs come in having put up very impressive expected goals stats in the qualifying rounds, during which they beat England on home soil.

Czech Republic star Tomáš Souček, left, celebrates a goal with his teammate. Photo credit: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images.

Familiar names include midfielder Tomáš Souček, who will be a menace if he’s as effective in the air for his country as he is for West Ham United, and striker Patrick Schick, whose all-around game suits a Czech team that doesn’t have much experience on a stage like this.

Two third-place teams notched three points in group play and advanced to the knockout round back in 2016, while a solid goal difference is also crucial. I think the Czechs will take the game to the Scots and collect three points there, even though the game is in Glasgow, and a point from either game against Croatia or England isn’t out of the question.

Regardless of where the Czechs finish, as long as it’s not atop the group, +400 odds to win a knockout-round game against what likely won’t be a powerhouse nation is great value.


The Longshot: Scotland

Ever heard of a team with two left backs as its two best players? If not, meet the Scotland national team.

Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson and Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney give manager Steve Clarke really only one choice of formation given their quality. Scotland has to play a 3-5-2, with Tierney as the left center back and Robertson bursting up and down the left wing as a fullback.

The Scottish midfielder is powered by Aston Villa’s John McGinn, who is the active leader in most goals for the national team. That’s a problem.

Veteran standout John McGinn. Photo credit: Aitor Alcalde – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images.

Going forward for Scotland, goalscoring is the biggest concern. Celtic’s James Forrest and Ryan Christie are coming off subpar goalscoring seasons, while Ryan Fraser failed to impress at Newcastle. Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie is also out for the tournament due to injury.

Scotland’s best hope will likely be Southampton striker Che Adams, who recently opted to represent the nation when it became clear his England prospects were going nowhere.

The Leicester-born forward is athletic and has a solid amount of pace, although finishing isn’t his strong suit. He had nine Premier League goals this season compared to 12.12 expected goals, per Understat, which indicates he could be more lethal in front of goal.


Best Bets for Group D

The first pick is Croatia to win the group at +300. This number is way too high, because books are clearly all about England.

I think the Three Lions are a tournament or two away from really thriving, because they mostly haven’t played much together. Meanwhile, the Croatians know each other inside and out.

These sides face off in the group’s first game of the tournament at Wembley Stadium. I trust the Croatians’ experience and familiarity with the English team to come in handy to at least get a point. From there, bettors would feel great to have a +300 ticket in their pockets.

  • Croatia to win Group D (+300)
  • Czech Republic to reach quarterfinals (+400)

Group D Projections

Read more about BJ Cunningham’s EURO 2020 Projections here.

Group D Projected Match Odds


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Euro 2020: Group E Odds & Preview

By: Jeremy Pond

Team Group Odds Outright Odds
Spain -286 +900
Sweden +650 +7500
Poland +700 +8000
Slovakia +1700 +30000

So, this might be up for debate with my Action Network colleagues, but Group E has to be one of the two easiest quartets to handicap in the upcoming Euro 2020 soccer tournament.

Three-time champion and 2010 World Cup winner Spain headlines the foursome, with oddsmakers making it a sizable -286 favorite to win the group. I actually find value on that lofty number, due to the fact I have Spain sitting closer to -350 odds to win the group and reach the knockout round.

However, I have no desire whatsoever partaking in that kind of price. Instead, we’ll look at the other three Group E players — Sweden, Poland and Slovakia — to see if there’s better, legitimate value in this extremely top-heavy group.

That said, let’s see what we could have on deck when play commences.

Spain Should Reign Supreme Minus Veteran Ramos

All roads to the knockout stage start and end with Spain. It’s as simple as that.

As usual, La Furia Roja comes in loaded with talent and depth at all positions. Manager Luis Enrique has the unenviable task of piecing together a Starting XI that can make a deep run — and potentially even win the title — in this European showcase.

Enrique has already taken a step toward the future when he left one of the nation’s most decorated players of his Euro roster.  Captain Sergio Ramos is not part of the squad, which will mark the first time the defender won’t feature with La Furia Roja since the 2004 edition of this competition.

Fortunately for Spain, Enrique has plenty of talented and viable replacements at his disposal, including Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City) and Marcos Llorente of Atlético Madrid.

Offensively, Spain is led by standout striker Álvaro Morata. The Juventus star is coming off a brilliant campaign in Serie A, where he racked up 20 goals and 12 assists in 44 matches across all competitions.

Expect Gerard Moreno, who led Villarreal to a Champions League berth via its win over Manchester United in the Europa League final, and Manchester City standout Ferran Torres to provide even more firepower in his vaunted attack.

Yet, perhaps the most important part of this Spanish machine is Thiago Alcântara. The Manchester City midfielder will be the engine that makes La Furia Roja go, providing field vision and impressive skills when orchestrating the offense from the middle of the pitch.

And if you fancy Alcântara for the Golden Ball, awarded to the tournament’s best player, you have to be drooling at the +7500 odds you’re getting at DraftKings to take home the honor. I’ve already played him at those long odds, plus I threw in Morata at +5000 for more coverage.

If Spain — the only nation in the group to ever reach a Euro final (see graphic below) — is to capture the championship, one of those stars is the likely winner of that award. Needless to say, both would be a fat payouts in futures wagers.


Team Appearances Best Performance
Spain 11th Winner: 1964 | 2008 | 2012
Sweden 7th Semifinal round: 1992
Poland 4th Quarterfinal round: 2016
Slovakia 2nd Round of 16: 2016

Bottom line, this is Spain’s group to lose and I honestly don’t see that happening. Sweden and Poland could give it fits, with both sides possibly able to squeak out a draw against the group favorite. However, you should fully expect La Furia Roja to roll through their foes entering the knockout round.

If my forecasting of how the five other groups play out, I expect Spain to get Czech Republic in the Round of 16 matches. A win there would set up a potential showdown with either England or Germany in the quarterfinals.

Obviously, not everyone is going to be as fortunate as France when it comes to potential paths to the crown, so Spain will have some work to do heading down the line if they’re going to win their first European championship since the 2012 edition of the tournament.


Poland star Robert Lewandowski looks on during a recent friendly match against Russia. Photo credit: Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Getty Images.

Poland Provides Plenty of Value as Live Longshot

Any nation with Robert Lewandowski on its roster has to be taken seriously in the group stage of this type of competition. It’s as simple as that.

The Bayern Munich talisman enters this tournament following a record-setting campaign with the Bundesliga champion, recording a whopping 41 Bundesliga goals to break German legend Gerd Müller’s mark that stood for close to five decades. Lewandowski missed a handful of matches due to injuries as well, so who knows what the tally would have been had he been fit.

You would have to think Lewandowski is going to enter this tournament with some hunger in his chance at redemption. He was ineffective in the 2018 edition of this competition, going scoreless through three group-stage games.

I don’t foresee Poland having issues going forward, with arguably the world’s best striker and solid midfield led by Karol Linetty and Grzegorz Krychowiak,. However, I do have concerns with its defense.

The White and Reds don’t have much to write home about in the back other than two quality goalkeepers in the squad in Łukasz Fabiański and Wojciech Szczęsny. Unfortunately, Poland can’t play its netminders at the same.


Sweden veteran Sebastian Larsson, right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring a penalty during a friendly match. Photo credit: Michael Campanella/Getty Images.

Sweden Looking to Surprise Tournament Field

Manager Janne Andersson has really turned things around for Blågult (The Blue and Yellow) since taking the reins five years ago. Andersson led Sweden to a 2018 World Cup appearance, which marked the first time it qualified for the competition since the 2006 edition of the tournament held in Germany.

Sweden, which has never won this event and was failed to get out of the group stage last time this tournament was held, had its best showing back in 1992 when it reached the semifinal round. Now, it will try to reach the knockout phase of this latest edition and play the role of spoiler.

Robin Quaison, who plays for Bundesliga side Mainz 05 in Germany, led Sweden in qualifying with five goals. However, look for  21-year-old wunderkind Alexander Isak from La Liga club Real Sociedad to be the potential breakout star. Isak scored 17 goals for his La Liga side, so the nation is hopeful that form carries over at this tournament.

Yet, perhaps the most important player for the Swedes is RB Leipzig standout Emil Forsberg. The Red Bulls’ veteran was a big part in the Bundesliga outfit’s second-place finish in the German top flight, recording seven goals. If the winger, who was Sweden’s midfielder of the year in 2016 and 2017, can maintain his club form he could be a problem to opponents on the flank

I had a tough time trying to decide between Poland and Sweden in regard to which country will follow Spain into the knockout round. And obviously, that’s largely due to Sweden’s brilliant record against Poland of late. However, with these countries so close in the betting market to advance, I just found that tiniest extra value on Poland to be just enough to put it ahead of Sweden.


Slovakia midfielder Erik Jirka, left, heads the ball during a game against Bulgaria. Photo credit: Vladimir Simicek/AFP via Getty Images.

And Then There’s Lonely Underdog Slovakia

It makes complete sense that the weakest team in the group had to take the hardest road to get to this competition.

The Repre wound up third in their qualifying group, which meant it had to reach tournament via the playoff round. Slovakia, which compiled a pretty flat 4-3-1 (W-L-D) record on its way to 13 points, had to take the Path B route, was up to the task. The Repre bounced the Republic of Ireland via penalty kicks in the semifinal round before earning a 2-1 win over Northern Ireland to advance.

Bottom line, head coach Štefan Tarkovič has his work cut out for him. Tarkovič, who was an assistant under former manager Pavel Hapal before being given the job this past December, is going to have to find a way to scratch out at least one win to even think about booking a place in the knockout round.

Expect captain Marek Hamšík, who plays for Swedish outfit IFK Göteborg, to lead things centrally for Slovakia. He should get some help going forward from teammates Juraj Kucka and Róbert Boženík, with each player recording three goals in the qualifying matches.


Best Bets for Group E:

  • Poland To Finish Second (-106)
  • Slovakia To Finish Last (-155)
  • Álvaro Morata To Win Golden Boot (+2700)
  • Thiago Alcântara To Win Golden Ball (+7000)

Note: Finally, if you’re interested in trying to figure who Spain or anyone else from Group E might face in the knockout round, I found this cool tournament predictor that allowed me to forecast various ways the group stage could play out. It helped me strategizing my wagers, both for futures plays and group-stage matches, so maybe it will help you as well.


Group E Projections

Read more about BJ Cunningham’s EURO 2020 Projections here.

Group E Projected Match Odds


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Euro 2020: Group F Odds & Preview

By: Anthony Dabbundo

Team Group Odds Outright Odds
France +148 +500
Germany +165 +900
Portugal +300 +800
Hungary +4000 +50000

When the European Championships expanded from 16 to 24 teams ahead of the 2016 competition, one of the criticisms of the move was that there would be fewer “groups of death” with more three or four high-quality sides going at it in the opening stage.

However, this edition of the soccer showcase has a clear group you absolutely don’t want to be in, though, and it’s Group F that’s loaded with star power.

France, the reigning World Cup champion, Portugal (the 2016 Euro winner) and 2014 World Cup titlist Germany are in this group and all have a legitimate shot to win the competition.  All three nations have implied odds 10% or higher to lift the trophy next month in London.

This group gets underway on June 15 when Hungary hosts Portugal and Germany takes on France. The Hungarians are clear underdogs to advance, but do get two group games at home to try to level the playing field a bit.

France standout Karim Benzema celebrates during a recent match. Photo credit: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images.

Juggernaut France Favored to Win Euro Crown

France is the consensus favorite to win the tournament, but will be tested much more in the group stage than it was in the World Cup or last European championship.

The French have a plethora of attacking talent, buoyed by the return of Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) up top to replace striker Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) in the starting lineup. He’ll make the country even more dangerous on the attack, which will line up in a conservative diamond 4-4-2 formation of sorts.

Eight of the 11 starters from the World Cup final are expected to start again, but rotation will be a key given how many minutes their key players have played for their domestic clubs.

France will start four natural center backs with Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich) on the right; Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich) on the left; Raphael Varane (Real Madrid); and, Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain) in the middle. That’s three of the same four from the 2018 squad, with Kimpembe replacing Samuel Umtiti.

The midfield is anchored by the pairing of N’Golo Kanté, fresh off his dominant performance in the Champions League final for Chelsea and Paul Pogba of Manchester United. The French don’t have a lot of midfield depth, but Adrien Rabiot (Juventus) is the third expected starter, replacing Blaise Matuidi.

Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona) is a nailed  at the point of the diamond, with the pace and quality of Kylian Mbappé (PSG) and the experienced Benzema up top for Les Bleus.

France scored lots of goals against Croatia and Argentina at the last World Cup, because of individual quality of Griezmann and Mbappé, but it’s absolutely a defense-first team under manager Didier Deschamps. The French are difficult to break down, they’re excellent on set pieces and cruised through qualifying.

Things could go wrong for them if Kanté or Pogba pick up an injury, but otherwise, it’s hard to see what derails France besides the normal, single-elimination variance of a knockout tournament.

Global soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. Photo credit: David Ramos/Getty Images.

Ronaldo, Portugal Could Upset Group F Apple Cart 

I’m invested in Portugal to win this tournament, because unlike 2016 when it was absurdly lucky and captured the title despite winning one game in regulation, it’s coming in with loads of talent at peak age.

The formula for winning in international football doesn’t usually start with the attack or the high press, like it does in club football. A solid defensive base,  some good midfielders who can control a game and a striker are often enough to carry a team into the deeper stages of the tournament.

Portugal is anchored by the old, but still excellent with 38-year-old center back Pepe (Porto) leading the way. He’ll partner with Manchester City breakout star Rúben Dias (Manchester City) in defense. Portugal has the best fullback duo in the tournament via João Cancelo (Manchester City) on the right and Raphael Guerrero (Borussia Dortmund) on the left.

Both are solid going forward, while Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Diogo Jota (Liverpool) and Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) are as good of a front three as any in this tournament. Behind those them will be Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) pulling the strings and Rúben Neves (Wolves) in the central midfield.

This Portugal side has balance, upside and enough of a backbone to rely on in big knockout matches. The only concern would be the potential draw, where the group runner-up would see England in the round of 16.

However, if France and Portugal are safely through to the knockout stage ahead of their final group game, both could play rotated squads in the game.

Manager Joachim Löw of Germany looks on during a training session. Photo credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.

Continue Fading Germany in Löw’s Swan Song

The German national team has fallen off from its prominence since winning the World Cup. It suffered a 2-0 defeat against France in the Euro semifinals. It was also eliminated in the group stage at the 2018 World Cup.

The nation also endured an embarrassing 6-0 defeat at the hands of Spain in the Nations League, plus a stunning loss to North Macedonia in its World Cup qualifying group.

This is the final international tournament for manager Joachim Löw, who will depart following the competition. Löw doesn’t have a set best 11, which is always a concern for a team in flux. He’s experimented with a back three to solve their defensive woes.

Löw could go to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with a defensive pairing of Antonio Rudiger and Mats Hummels in central defense. That’s probably his best bet after Niklas Sule and Robin Koch were embarrassed by Spain.

Löw has featured Atalanta left wing back Robin Gosens at left back and the midfield trio of Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City) and Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich) is probably their best midfield group.

However, Löw then has to navigate his attackers with Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich), Timo Werner (Chelsea), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) and Leroy Sané (Bayern Munich) rotating in. Kevin Volland (Nice) and Kai Havertz (Chelsea) are additional attacking options, while Florian Neuhaus impressed for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Germany in recent months in the midfield.

Unlike the other teams in this group, the German defense is unsettled. Its midfield might lack enough defensive solidity. Its manager is on the way out. The talent is undeniable and Germany will still be a difficult out, but it’s easy to see how it loses its first two games to France and Portugal. Then, it would find itself on the outside looking in through the third-place tiebreakers.

A blend of three projections systems puts the Germans chances of advancing at 75% from this group. Given the +660 being offered (13.16%), that’s almost a 12% edge that they will bow out before the knockout stage.

Members of the Hungary national team celebrate a goal during a match. Photo credit: David Ramos/Getty Images.

Hungary & More Analysis

Hungary has some decent players, but ultimately doesn’t have nearly enough firepower to hang in this group. The squad has been a decent sleeper to advance in any other group, but it’ll be a heavy underdog in all three matchups, even the two games they’re playing on home soil.

I wouldn’t expect France vs. Portugal to feature a ton of goals, and I’ll be looking to play an under in that matchup, especially if we see rotated sides. It will depend on the situation and who needs what to qualify, but both teams’ styles contrast each other in ways that make for a cagey affair without a ton of scoring chances.


Best Bets for Group F:

  • Portugal to win the tournament (+800 or better)
  • Germany to not qualify for the knockout stage (+600 or better)
  • France Pick’em (-125 or better) vs. Germany in the opening group game

Group F Projections

Read more about BJ Cunningham’s EURO 2020 Projections here.

Group F Projected Match Odds


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Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds, Preview, Prediction: Wrigley Field Welcomes Back Full Capacity (Friday, June 11)

cardinals vs cubs-odds-pick-prediction-preview-mlb-june 11-2021

Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds

Cardinals Odds +120
Cubs Odds -130
Over/Under 9
Time Friday, 2:20 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Friday and via William Hill

One sign that the world is normalizing itself will be seeing a full Wrigley Field.

The Friendly Confines welcomes 100% capacity for the first time in 2021 on Friday afternoon, when the St. Louis Cardinals come to town to take on the Chicago Cubs.

St. Louis enters having won just two of its last 10 games, although it did end a home series against the Indians on Wednesday night with a win. Chicago, meanwhile, sits atop the National League Central, leading the Brewers by a half-game.

Let’s see which side bettors should back on Friday afternoon:

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It’s Now Or Never For Cardinals’ Oviedo

If Johan Oviedo is going to put a legitimate claim down on a permanent spot in the Cardinals’ rotation, a strong start on Friday would go a long way.

St. Louis is currently without Jack Flaherty, Kwang Hyun Kim and Miles Mikolas in its rotation, leaving Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez and John Gant as the regulars. Oviedo has filled in here and there, making five starts (six total appearances).

The 23-year-old right-hander has made two starts at Triple-A Memphis this year, although his numbers are better in the majors. Oviedo’s longest outing for the Cardinals was an April 28 start that saw him allow three runs over five innings against the Phillies.

In two starts since rejoining the rotation on May 28, Oviedo has thrown 4 1/3 and four innings against the D-backs and Reds.

Oviedo throws either his fastball or slider 76.9% of the time, mixing in the occasional curveball or changeup. Thus far, his fastball has allowed an xBA of .260 and an impressive .312 xSLG. While his slider’s xBA is .244 and actual batting average against .184, it has been hit harder this season, with an xSLG of .472.

Oviedo’s 5.25 ERA is backed up by a 5.45 xFIP. His biggest problem is that he’s neither striking out a bunch of hitters or keeping them off base (7.50 strikeouts per nine innings and a staggering 6.38 walks). He’s allowing 1.50 home runs per nine innings but just a .239 BABIP, which indicates bad things happen when opponents make contact.

Offensively, the Cardinals are riding the wave that is Tyler O’Neill’s power over the past two weeks. In that span, he has seven home runs and 14 RBIs, slashing an impressive .373/.396/.882. O’Neill is unlikely to ever hit .300 over the course of an entire season, but his power makes him prone to extremely hot stretches like this one.

Nolan Arenado (.703 OPS over the past two weeks) has shown down a bit, while Paul Goldschmidt (.846) has stayed steady throughout the season. The Cards would no doubt welcome an increase in power from Goldschmidt, who only has a .416 slugging percentage on the season.

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Cubs Rely On Wisdom At The Plate

The Cubs’ lineup, meanwhile, has been led throughout the season by a resurgent Kris Bryant, who is doing his best to make sure he didn’t make a huge mistake by turning down an extension worth $200 million a few years ago. A free agent after the season, like many of his teammates, Bryant is slashing .308/.383/.575 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs.

The current star of the show for the Cubs, though, is reigning NL Player of the Week Patrick Wisdom (yes, you read that right). In 16 games for the Cubs this season, all of which have come recently, Wisdom has eight home runs and an absurd 1.371 OPS.

The 29-year-old bounced around organizations before landing with the Cubs last season, and the North Siders definitely did not expect him to be a significant contributor this season. Injuries to infielders David Bote, Matt Duffy and Nico Hoerner created a hole for the Cubs, though, and Wisdom has filled it well. When that trio is healthy, someone is not going to be left out. For now, though, Chicago is happy to ride its newfound star’s bat.

Aside from Bryant and Wisdom, the Cubs’ lineup has been relatively pedestrian of late. Javier Baez, Joc Pederson and Ian Happ all have an OPS under .610 over the past two weeks, while Anthony Rizzo’s is .763 during that span. That has been when Wisdom has been red hot. He hasn’t just kept the Cubs afloat. They’re thriving thanks to him.

Kohl Stewart will start for the Cubs on Friday. This will be Stewart’s third time through the Cubs’ rotation. He threw five innings of one-run ball (the run was unearned) against ht Pirates on May 31, before allowing three runs over 3 2/3 innings last Saturday against the Giants. His 3.12 ERA is solid, although a 4.42 FIP says that number is likely to rise.

Cardinals vs. Cubs Pick

The X-factor in this matchup: The wind.

The wind will be blowing in off Lake Michigan on Friday afternoon at 5-10 mph. When that happens, the under is the play.

As The Action Network’s PJ Walsh discusses in our MLB PRO Weather Report, the under is 354-280-32 since 2005 when winds of at least 5 mph are blowing in at the Friendly Confines.

With a Cubs lineup that depends on a journeyman enjoying the hottest streak of his life, I’m more than happy to play the shockingly low under of 9 runs.

Pick: Under 9 runs

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Euro 2020 Odds, Betting Picks, Predictions: Our Best Bets for Turkey vs. Italy on Friday, June 11

euro 2020-betting-odds-picks-best bets-italy-lorenzo insigne-ciro immobile-friday-june 11

Finally, the 2020 European Championships are here.

We had to wait an extra year due to the global pandemic, but the star-studded soccer tournament has fans around the world absolutely giddy in anticipation of this showcase event. The tournament opens Friday, with Turkey taking on Italy in Rome, kicking off a month of top-notch matches that will feature some of the best countries on the planet.

From heavy favorite France to defending champion Portugal, as well as mighty contenders in Belgium, England and Spain to name a few, all eyes will be focused on this 24-nation competition.

Our Action Network soccer analysts have you covered when it comes to all your Euro 2020 needs, providing game previews, detailed analysis and selections throughout the tournament.

The crew will be dishing out its best bets on a daily basis as well, which means it’s jumping right into the mix with four selections for the opening Group A tilt.

Let’s take a look at our handicappers’ top selections for this showdown.

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Friday’s Match: Group A — Turkey vs. Italy (3 p.m. ET | ESPN)

ANALYST PICK | ODDS BEST BOOK
Anthony Dabbundo Turkey +1 (-118) DraftKings
Matthew Trebby Total Over 2.5 Goals (+135) DraftKings
Jeremy Pond Italy Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (-125) BetMGM
BJ Cunningham Turkey +1 (-118) DraftKings

Odds as of Thursday afternoon.


Anthony Dabbundo: Turkey +1 (-118) vs. Italy

Welcome to Euro 2020 in 2021. Italy, which has one of the oldest center-back pairings in the tournament, and will face off against the youngest squad in the competition in Turkey.

While the Italians are at home for this match and performed well in Euro 2020 and World Cup qualifying under manager Roberto Mancini since missing the 2018 World Cup, they played a pretty easy schedule. That has led me to find major question marks about the Italian attack.

The nation will be without Marco Verratti, who happens to be its best midfielder. The result is a midfield of Manuel Locatelli, Jorginho and Nico Barella. It’s a capable bunch, but the Italians will definitely miss Verrati’s elite ball retention and progression numbers.

That’s a problem against an excellent Turkey defense, which only allowed three goals in 10 qualifying matches and has an underrated group featuring Merih Demiral (Juventus) and Leicester City player Caglar Soyuncu. Needless to say, I expect Turkey to keep this Group A game close.

Italian striker Ciro Immobile is more successful when he has room to run in behind defenses, but Turkey is much more likely to sit deeper and frustrate him and the Italians. Expect long periods of stale possession from Italy that won’t lead to many clear scoring chances.

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Jeremy Pond: Italy Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (-125) vs. Turkey

We kick things off in Rome, with an interesting battle between a savvy veteran Italian side facing the youngest team in the 24-team field.

Italy is a massive favorite in this match, hovering around -200 odds across the sportsbook spectrum. And honestly, Azzurri deserve that lofty number. The Italians are unbeaten in a ridiculous 23 consecutive matches, with their last last loss coming via a 2-1 setback against Portugal on Sept. 18, 2018 in a Nations League fixture.

Italy’s offense has been stellar of late as well, scoring at least two goals in its last seven matches.

Don’t get me wrong. I highly rate Turkey manager Şenol Güneş and his side. I have the nation, which has wins against pre-tournament favorite France and powerful Netherlands on its recent résumé, advancing to the knockout phase. However, I expect a combination of the Italians’ experience and shaky Turkish legs to result in Güneş’ sides falling behind and having to chase a result.

Needless to say, I fully expect Italy to go at Turkey from the opening whistle and be relentless on the attack. For that reason and the other points made above, I’m backing Italy to score at least two goals as my top selection.

Throw in the fact Turkey has conceded at least two goals in six of their last 10 matches, and I like my chances of hitting this wager to open the tournament.

Matthew Trebby: Turkey vs. Italy — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+135)

Coming off the European soccer season of the under when it comes to the total , I’m starting Euro 2020 with an over play.

Italy’s backline is seemingly stable with Juventus veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the middle. The problem is Chiellini is 36 years old and coming off a subpar club season, while Bonucci hasn’t played much this year. Neither is in great form or has much pace, and there’s a lack of stability at both fullback positions.

Going forward, I like what Italy brings to the table. Nicolo Barella could be a breakout star of this tournament coming off a Serie A-winning season at Inter Milan. He serves as a great link between the midfield and attack, where Federico Cheisa, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne are all in their prime.

While Turkey has a strong center-back pairing in Caglar Soyuncu and Merih Demiral, the midfield is lacking great cover for them.

However, there’s talent going forward. Hakan Calhanoglu is out of contract with AC Milan and looking to seal his next big move, while Lille striker Burak Yilmaz might be the best in this group.

I expect both teams to be up for the opener, which will have fans at Stadio Olimpico for the first time in 15 months, with the Turks fully determined to cause trouble in this group.

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BJ Cunningham: Turkey +1 (-118) vs. Italy

Italy is one of the more fascinating teams entering the tournament due to the fact their results in Euro and World Cup qualifying were very impressive. The Italians won all 10 of their Euro qualifying matches, as well as their three World Cup qualifying games. They also created 2.95 xG per match, while only allowing 0.91 xG per match.

However, they have the lowest strength of schedule of any country coming into this tournament. 

This is going to be a really tricky Group A game for Italy, because Turkey plays out of a 4-1-4-1 formation most of the time, which is not a very popular formation these days. The Turks utilized this look during their 2-0 win and 1-1 draw with France during Euro qualifying, as well as their the 4-2 victory over the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier.

Italy typically plays out of a 4-3-3 formation, which Turkey will be ready for since that’s what Netherlands played in that aforementioned match in late March. Turkey’s defense is actually impressive as well, as it allowed only 0.97 xG per match over Euro and World Cup qualifying.

As far as squad composition is concerned, Turkey’s group is solid top to bottom, featuring 13 members playing in either England, France or Italy. 

With how good Turkey is defensively, I think they should be able to handle the Italian attack and keep this game to at least a one goal margin. Therefore, I think there is some value on Turkey’s spread of +1 at -113 odds.

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NBA Injury News & Starting Lineups (June 11): Joel Embiid Questionable, Michael Porter Jr. Probable for Game 3 Friday

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

NBA Injury News

The Philadelphia 76ers are once again listing Joel Embiid as questionable ahead of Friday’s Game 3 matchup in Atlanta against the Hawks. Embiid has been questionable for Games 1 and 2, but winded up starting both games despite dealing with a small tear in his right meniscus.

Michael Porter Jr. is listed as probable for the Denver Nuggets as he continues to deal with a tight lower back ahead of Game 3 against the Phoenix Suns. Porter Jr. suffered the injury during the second quarter of Game 1 after tweaking his back.

He was questionable heading into Game 2 on Wednesday but suited up and logged 28 minutes in the blowout loss. There’s been no word of a reported minutes limit. 

Be sure to check the Action Labs NBA page for real-time updates.

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Projected Starting Lineups

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks (7:30 p.m. ET)

76ers Projected Lineup

PG – Ben Simmons
SG – Seth Curry
SF – Danny Green
PF – Tobias Harris
C – Joel Embiid

Injury news: Joel Embiid (Knee) is questionable

Hawks Projected Lineup

PG – Trae Young
SG – Bogdan Bogdanovic
SF – Solomon Hill
PF – John Collins
C – Clint Capela

Injury news: Nothing new


Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets (10 p.m. ET)

Suns Projected Lineup

PG – Chris Paul
SG – Devin Booker
SF – Mikal Bridges
PF – Jae Crowder
C – Deandre Ayton

Injury news: Nothing new

Nuggets Projected Lineup

PG – Facundo Campazzo
SG – Austin Rivers
SF – Aaron Gordon
PF – Michael Porter Jr.
C – Nikola Jokic

Injury news: Michael Porter Jr. (Back) is probable; PJ Dozier (Adductor) is out


Phan’s Bet to Watch

As of 10 a.m. ET, Justin Phan sees betting value in one game: 76ers vs. Hawks. To get instant alerts when he sees an edge and his analysis on those picks, sign up for Action Labs.

Islanders vs. Lightning Odds, Series Pick, Preview: Who Will Advance to Stanley Cup Finals?

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Islanders vs. Lightning Series Odds

Islanders Odds
+205
Lightning Odds
-250
Over / Under
5.5 Games (-139 / +110)
Game 1
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET
TV
NBC
Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via DraftKings.

If I was roughly a billion times more famous, I’d have my (hypothetical) agent angling for a two-week stint for me as the host of Jeopardy!. I’m definitely that guy that likes asking the questions.

During the COVID lockdown, I even invented a make-shift trivia game for my friends to participate in remotely via Zoom called QRT. One of my pet peeves is when people do that thing, where when I ask them to guess something like  how much a 24-pack of Gatorade is, only for them to reply with some insanely low price like a dollar and ruin the point of the exercise.

So try not to be a jerk when we frame the handicap for the Stanley Cup semifinal series between the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning with a guessing game to start.

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Islanders Were Actually Better In The Regular Season

The category is NHL analytics. At first instinct, with which body of work should we judge the Islanders: their regular season stats, or their playoff stats? Which would you think would be more flattering to the team finishing in fourth place in the East Division this season? 

Most would probably have guessed that their playoff stats would be the subset that the Islanders would want to be judged by after dispatching the Penguins and the Bruins. However, when it comes to the metrics that are important to me, the regular-season Islanders are a better team than this recent edition. 

Regular Season
Playoffs
Expected Goals For 5v5
1.814
1.83
Expected Goals Against 5v5
1.707
2.32
Expected Goal Share
51.5%
44.1%
High Danger Chances For 5v5 per Game
9.16
7.84
High Danger Chances Against 5v5 per Game
7.05
9.25
High Danger Chance 5v5 Conversion Rate
*14%
22.9%

*the league average conversion rate on even-strength high danger chances is 14%

The comparison starts out okay for the Islanders as their even-strength Expected Goals sit at nearly the exact same number as the regular season. However, the 2.32 Expected Goals Against number is pretty wild. By comparison, the Blues gave up 2.34 Expected Goals at even-strength in their first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, and they got swept out so hard, you kind of forgot the Blues were even in the playoffs, didn’t you?

The Islanders have won two series despite playing at a deficit when it comes to creating offence relative to their opponent. Their High-Danger Chance numbers have flipped from their regular-season averages, that by the way, were really good and showed that they were better than their eventual fourth-place finish indicated. 

So how are they pulling this off? That’s where the last number comes in. A 22.9% High-Danger Chance conversion rate is outrageous and frankly, shouldn’t be sustainable. That’s the outlier number in the chart above, which begs the question, how did they manage such an incredible rate the last few weeks?

While it was a benefit to the Islanders in the moment, the answer is pretty simple and now kind of a bummer. New York has taken advantage of bad goaltending from their opponents. Tristan Jarry was jarringly incapable in the first round of the playoffs finishing dead last with a -5.87 GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) . The Penguins tried to skimp on that position this year and it cost them.

In the second round, as we saw on Wednesday in Game 6, Tuukka Rask was not himself. Nagging injuries made Rask a shadow of his normal self as his play deteriorated against the Islanders to the point where he finished the playoffs with an even 0.03 GSAA. The Bruins pay Rask enough to expect him to be better than “just a guy.”

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Lightning Have Hit New Level In Playoffs

It’s theoretically possible for the Islanders to play better against the Lightning than they did in the first two rounds. However, given what we’ve seen from the defending champs, it doesn’t seem all that likely, does it?

Let’s take that Islanders column from above and place it next to the Lightning resume from their first two series, because unlike with the Isles, deciding which subset of metrics to use for Tampa is not up for debate. The return of Steven Stamkos and season debut of Nikita Kucherov has shown you can take the vast majority of the Lightning’s regular season numbers and run them over with a Zamboni. 

Playoff Stats Lightning Islanders
Expected Goals For 5v5 1.75 1.83
Expected Goals Against 5v5 1.84 2.32
Expected Goal Share 48.7% 44.1%
High Danger Chances For 5v5 per Game 9.45 7.84
High Danger Chances Against 5v5 per Game 7.45 9.25
High Danger Chance 5v5 Conversion Rate 13.4% 22.9%
Power Play Efficiency 41.7% 28.1%
Penalty Kill % 77.8% 61.5%
Starting Goaltender GSAA/60 min. .493 .202

Surprisingly, the Lightning haven’t been great at even-strength, being marginally outplayed by both the Panthers in Round 1 and the Hurricanes in Round 2. However, they make up for that on defence, considering goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy single-handedly drops the opponents’ Expected Goal number by half of a goal, just by stepping into the crease. Then they make up for it on offence, by creating more High-Danger Chances 5-on-5 than their opponents. 

Terrifyingly, they haven’t even converted those at an unusually high level, doing so at 13.4%. It’s the next number that’s a complete horror show if you’re a Lightning opponent. The Bolts’ 41.7% power play appears (relatively) unstoppable, and that was the case even against the Hurricanes’ top-three penalty kill. The Islanders have their own horrifying number, with their penalty kill that’s been surprisingly bad at 61.5%. 

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The minute the Islanders scored their first empty-net goal in Game 6 against the Bruins, I started putting my numbers in to crank out game and series prices before the market got their hands on sportsbooks’ offerings. My true number for Game 1 in Tampa is NYI +180/TB -180, so when the Lightning opened -180 to the Isles +160, I hoped that New York’s run would make their underdog price too good to pass up. I was wrong. Sharp bettors saw the -180 moneyline price for Tampa as fair and snapped it up, pushing the line up to -200. 

Meanwhile, my fair series price was an even -300, indicating a 75% win probability for Tampa Bay, who have the home-ice advantage, which may prove to be critical with how good the Islanders have appeared at home in Nassau. The cheapest price on the Lightning was -240, but anything close to that was gobbled up within mere hours and now, sure enough, Tampa is -300, with the Islanders at +240. The market has pushed this to a fair price to bet Tampa, but we’re no longer getting any kind of a discount. 

This can be a tough bet to make given what we’ve seen from the Islanders as they’ve advanced, but whether it’s the numbers quoted above or the personnel building those metrics, there’s only one side to look at here. 

Would it be even easier if these teams played on neutral territory? Yes, it would. Great news though, as the two teams literally played back in September in the conference finals in the NHL’s bubble. Tampa Bay won the series in six, and while there were a couple of games that could have gone either way, the Lightning had the edge in even-strength Expected Goals 13.21-10.01 and High Danger Chances 5-on-5 with 70 to the Islanders’ 49.

You’ll recall that was without Stamkos and his contribution to what might be a historically good power play. So if the Isles are planning on making up for allowing between 2 and 3.5 more High-Danger Chances than they get per game and top the Tampa special teams, that’s not a recipe for success. 

This Islanders team is a well-built team for the playoffs as they’ve shown in recent years, but the things that make them good, particularly their depth, is something the Lightning have and then some. The best case for the Islanders to win this series is built on a combination of grit and magic (thanks to their home confines and rabid crowd). I’m not willing to bet my money on that continuing against the defending champions who have shown no signs of slowing down. 

Pick: TB -180 or better in Game 1 / TB to win series if NYI can win either Game 1 or Game 2

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East Carolina vs. Vanderbilt College Baseball Super Regional Odds, Projections & Series Schedule

east carolina vs. vanderbilt-college baseball-super regionals-betting-odds-picks-predictions-nashville-college world series

East Carolina vs. Vanderbilt Odds & Schedule

Nashville Regional: June 11-13*


Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
East Carolina
+200
+350
+3500
Vanderbilt
-250
-500
+400
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.
  • Game 1: Friday, noon ET on ESPN2
  • Game 2: Saturday, noon ET on ESPN2
  • Game 3*: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

No. 13 East Carolina (44-15) vs. No. 4 Vanderbilt (43-15)

Series Betting Analysis

Is it time for East Carolina to make the College World Series?

The Pirates have lost five super regionals despite making the postseason 16 times since 1999. Head Coach Cliff Godwin has steady stats through AAC play, ranking top-40 in home runs per game, on-base percentage and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Sweeping the Greenville regional was not easy, as the Pirates allowed each opponent to score at least five runs.

For Vanderbilt, a sweep of the Nashville region did not come without a sweat in the Sunday finale.

Winning by a combined score of 14-3 over Presbyterian and Georgia Tech through June 5, the Yellow Jackets took the Commodores to the 11th inning in a final score that totaled 25 runs. If there’s a takeaway from the close call on Sunday, it’s that Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter did not pitch. The two aces have been the anchor of this team the entire season.

Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
East Carolina
Vanderbilt
Proj.
1
Carson Whisenhunt
Kumar Rocker
VAN -190
2
Gavin Williams
Jack Leiter
VAN -160
3*
Jake Kuchmaner
Patrick Reilly
VAN -130

The series price should be -310 when you consider the entire pitching staff and starters for Vanderbilt. The fact of the matter is that Rocker and Leiter could close this series out without a third game.

Similar to Kopps for Arkansas, Vanderbilt has pitching to mask the rest of the staff’s deficiencies.

Also, prayers are in order for ECU catcher Seth Caddell. Vanderbilt center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. is now up to 46 stolen bases on the season. Expect plenty of highlights from Bradfield here and in Omaha.

Pick: Vanderbilt -500

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2021 College World Series: Super Regionals Odds, Projections & Betting Picks for Every Series

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The field of 64 has been shaved down to just 16 teams after a weekend of bombing in regionals.

With over 240 home runs throughout the weekend, 2021 may best be defined as the year of the record-breaking aluminum bat. College baseball went to a less-springy BBCOR bat in 2011, but the results from this postseason may require additional changes by the NCAA.

The lack of aces combined with the hot bats provided a beating to under bettors at the window. Both Southern Miss and Notre Dame scored over 20 runs on Saturday, while Samford and Campbell combined for 29.

Four of the top-10 teams in home runs per game advanced to the Super Regionals in Arkansas, NC State, Texas Tech, and Dallas Baptist.

The super-regional bracket is now set, and it plays much differently than regionals.

The “Supers” consist of a best-two-out-of-three format at a host site. Teams that earned a top-eight seed will play host, while teams that won a regional as a non-top seed will return to their host site for additional play.

Before looking at individual super regionals, here are current futures odds provided by WynnBET.


College Baseball Super Regionals Odds & Projections

The handicapping becomes a bit easier from this point forward because of the ability to project pitchers.

This column will look at each individual Super Regional with projected lines determined by head-to-head starters. Starters were determined by the order in which they pitched during Regional play and are subject to change.

No matter the order of the starters, the projected series prices should remain constant.

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Super Regional
Matchup
Dates
Fayetteville
NC State vs. (1) Arkansas
June 11-13
Lubbock
(9) Stanford vs. (8) Texas Tech
June 11-13
Tucson
(12) Ole Miss vs. (5) Arizona
June 11-13
Nashville
(13) East Carolina vs. (4) Vanderbilt
June 11-13
Austin
South Florida vs. (2) Texas
June 12-14
Starkville
(10) Notre Dame vs. (7) Mississippi State
June 12-14
Columbia
Dallas Baptist vs. Virginia
June 12-14
Knoxville
LSU vs. (3) Tennessee
June 12-14

All photos are via Getty Images unless otherwise noted.


NC State vs. Arkansas

Fayetteville Regional
June 11-13*
Game
NC State
Arkansas
Proj.
1
Reid Johnston
Caleb Bolden
ARK -180
2
Sam Highfill
Patrick Wicklander
ARK -220
3*
Matt Willadsen
Lael Lockhart
ARK -210

Arkansas entered the Fayetteville regional not just as the SEC champions, but as a club that has not lost a weekend series the entire season.

Big Ten champ Nebraska pushed the Razorbacks to the brink, almost defeating the No. 1 overall seed in Baum-Walker Stadium. The Razorbacks’ season may have been over by now if not for the heroics of National Player of the Year Kevin Kopps.

The Arkansas closer boasts some unbelievable statistics, posting 120 strikeouts against 15 walks and six earned runs in 79.2 innings of work, per NCAA Stats.

Head coach Dave Van Horn has completely modeled the pitching staff after the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing starters to go just a few innings. When the starting staff gets in trouble, Van Horn is quick to “call the Kopps.” NC State’s ability to get a lead and keep Kopps out of the game is crucial.

The Wolfpack are known for their offense, owning a top-10 rank in home runs per game and slugging. NC State has now won 21-of-25 after sweeping the Ruston region with a combined score of 30-11 in three games. The Wolfpack are the hottest hitting team heading into the super regionals.

The handicap in Fayetteville depends on whether or not the NC State pitching staff can shut down the Razorback bats.

Starter Reid Johnston has pitched into the seventh inning for the Wolfpack in each of his last 10 outings. Southpaw closer Evan Justice has earned 10 saves but has allowed 25 earned runs through 50 innings pitched.

When it comes to defensive efficiency, these are two of the best teams in the nation with NC State ranking fifth in Division I.

This is the first matchup between Elliott Avent and Van Horn, who rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in wins for active head coaches.

The Fayetteville region will be the hottest site for home runs and brilliant flashes of leather. These two teams are identical in rankings when it comes to home runs per game, slugging and fielding percentage.

The handicap comes down to the best player at the collegiate level in Kopps.

Because of the anchor in the Razorbacks’ bullpen, the buy point for Arkansas is -300 for the series. There is, however, inflation in the market, as has been the case with Arkansas prices all season.

These teams are truly a coin flip from an offensive and starting staff perspective. Kopps is not worth the -900 on the market as of this writing, making NC State a buy down to +280.

Pick: NC State +500 (down to +280)


Wolfpack photo via NC State Athletics.

»» Return to the table of contents ««


Stanford vs. Texas Tech

Lubbock Regional
June 11-13*
Game
Stanford
Texas Tech
Proj.
1
Alex Williams
Chase Hampton
TTU -160
2
Brendan Beck
Patrick Monteverde
TTU -140
3*
Quinn Mathews
Mason Montgomery
TTU -185

Stanford didn’t break a sweat hosting a regional, capturing victories over North Dakota State and UC Irvine in the first two games, bashing runs for a combined score of 21-5.

The Cardinal took a loss to the Anteaters in Sunday’s game after a disastrous eighth inning from pitchers Joey Dixon and Jacob Palisch, who combined for six earned runs. Both pitchers returned in the regional final on Monday to close out an 11-8 victory to move onto Lubbock.

Stanford does have holes in its season-long statistics — mainly its rank of 140th in strikeout-to-walk ratio and its mark of 73rd in slugging percentage.

To win in Lubbock, the Trees must amp up the long-ball, an area in which Stanford ranks 26th in home runs per game.

Texas Tech is one of the best hitting teams in the country, a perfect fit for Jones AT&T Stadium. Lubbock has the highest rating in Park Factors for runs and home runs through all the remaining super regionals.

Where the Red Raiders get in trouble is pitching, as they own a rank of 46th in ERA and 121st in walks allowed per nine innings. None of the three starters in the regional round eclipsed 90 pitches in an outing.

Where Stanford has the biggest advantage is fielding percentage, as it sits 13th in the nation compared to Texas Tech at 84th. The issue with that stat is the ability to keep the ball in the yard against the Red Raiders, especially Jace Jung and Cal Conley, who combined for 36 homers on the season.

The starting pitching projections and bullpen FIP dictate a series price of Texas Tech -230.

The current listing of Texas Tech -134 is a value against a Stanford team that consistently walks opponents and does not possess near the firepower from an offensive perspective.

Pick: Texas Tech -134 (up to -230)


Red Raiders photo via Texas Tech Athletics.

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Ole Miss vs. Arizona

Tucson Regional
June 11-13*
Game
Ole Miss
Arizona
Proj.
1
Derek Diamond
Chase Silseth
ARI -140
2
Doug Nikhazy
Garrett Irvin
ARI -105
3*
Tyler Myers
Chandler Murphy
ARI -140

As I often state on social media, “Happy Doug Nikhazy Day.” The Rebels pitcher has notched 11 wins in 15 appearances and has 132 strikeouts in 86.2 innings pitched, making him an auto-play when head coach Mike Bianco gives him the nod.

The opening starter may be Derek Diamond, who threw 4.1 innings and didn’t allow an earned run to Southern Miss in the Oxford regional. That one-two pitching combination may be enough for a patient Rebels offense to strike.

The Ole Miss pitching is backed by an offense that ranks 37th in home runs per game and fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Arizona started off on the right foot, overcoming Grand Canyon ace Pierson Ohl. The Wildcats swept the remainder of the region by a combined score of 9-2 over UC Santa Barbara.

Neither of their opponents could expose Arizona’s season-long issues of fielding and strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Wildcats are outside the top 70 in home runs per game, strikeout-to-walk ratio and walks allowed per nine. The most glaring stat is defensive efficiency, as Arizona is the worst-ranked team remaining with a rank of 189th in fielding percentage.

The true odds for Arizona based on staff FIP and starting pitchers is -170, but this is a series that is almost guaranteed to go three games when Doug Nikhazy takes the mound for Ole Miss.

In lieu of a series bet, earmark the Nikhazy start for investment, as it should come as an Ole Miss pick’em.

Pick: Single Game — Ole Miss -120 or better when Doug Nikhazy starts


Wildcats photo via Arizona Athletics.

»» Return to the table of contents ««


East Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

Nashville Regional
June 11-13*
Game
East Carolina
Vanderbilt
Proj.
1
Carson Whisenhunt
Kumar Rocker
VAN -190
2
Gavin Williams
Jack Leiter
VAN -160
3*
Jake Kuchmaner
Patrick Reilly
VAN -130

Is it time for East Carolina to make the College World Series?

The Pirates have lost five super regionals despite making the postseason 16 times since 1999. Head Coach Cliff Godwin has steady stats through AAC play, ranking top-40 in home runs per game, on-base percentage and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Sweeping the Greenville regional was not easy, as the Pirates allowed each opponent to score at least five runs.

For Vanderbilt, a sweep of the Nashville region did not come without a sweat in the Sunday finale.

Winning by a combined score of 14-3 over Presbyterian and Georgia Tech through June 5, the Yellow Jackets took the Commodores to the 11th inning in a final score that totaled 25 runs. If there’s a takeaway from the close call on Sunday, it’s that Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter did not pitch. The two aces have been the anchor of this team the entire season.

The series price should be -310 when you consider the entire pitching staff and starters for Vanderbilt. The fact of the matter is that Rocker and Leiter could close this series out without a third game.

Similar to Kopps for Arkansas, Vanderbilt has pitching to mask the rest of the staff’s deficiencies.

Also, prayers are in order for ECU catcher Seth Caddell. Vanderbilt center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. is now up to 46 stolen bases on the season. Expect plenty of highlights from Bradfield here and in Omaha.

Pick: Vanderbilt -500


»» Return to the table of contents ««


South Florida vs. Texas

Austin Regional
June 12-14*
Game
South Florida
Texas
Proj.
1
Jack Jasiak
Tristan Stevens
TEX -250
2
Collin Sullivan
Ty Madden
TEX -260
3*
Brad Lord
Pete Hansen
TEX -300

Easily the most lopsided “Super” on the board, the question remains whether or not South Florida can bottle up its winning ways and continue in Austin.

Heading into the regionals, the Bulls ranked outside the top 100 in home runs per game, slugging and fielding percentage.

Winners of nine of its last 11, South Florida beat a Florida team that made the semifinals of the SEC Tournament before routing Miami.

After trading games with South Alabama, South Florida will bring just one top-25 stat to Texas: sacrifice flies.

Why is Texas fetching numbers so high in the regional market? Starting pitchers Tristan Stevens and Ty Madden have been nothing but electric.

Unlike South Florida, there are not many categories in which the Longhorns fall out of the top 100. Texas is top-25 in fielding percentage, on-base percentage and stolen bases. This is the top pitching staff in the nation, ranking first in earned run average.

The series price should mathematically fetch -900, but a better bet may be a future.

The Longhorns would enter Omaha on the other side of the bracket of Arkansas and Vanderbilt, giving their odds value considering the small hurdle of South Florida.

Pick: Texas -2000 | Championship Future +800


Bulls photo via South Florida Athletics.

»» Return to the table of contents ««


Notre Dame vs. Mississippi State

Starkville Regional
June 12-14*
Game
Notre Dame
Mississippi State
Proj.
1
John Michael Bertrand
Will Bednar
MSST -190
2
Tanner Kohlhepp
Christian MacLeod
MSST -150
3*
Aidan Tyrell
Houston Harding
MSST -200

Just a reminder that if there is a factor of home-field advantage, then there are two stadiums of note: Baum in Fayetteville and Dudy Noble in Starkville.

Outside of Lubbock, Dudy Noble has the highest Park Factors rating when it comes to runs scored. This regional figures to be a barn-burner between an SEC stronghold and a Notre Dame team playing with a chip on its shoulder for not being a top-eight seed.

The placement of the Irish was a clear reflection of their RPI, a rank that was affected by non-conference COVID-19 cancellations.

Notre Dame swept the South Bend regional with a combined score of 50-5.

John Michael Bertrand threw a complete-game five-hitter against Central Michigan, while the offense put up six home runs in a rout of UConn.

The Bulldog pitching duo of Will Bednar and Christian MacLeod will presumably put up more of a challenge than the pitching staff of UConn and Central Michigan. Both starters have combined for 215 strikeouts through 146.2 innings on the season.

Landon Sims has been the anchor for the bullpen and may be the second-best closer in the nation. The sophomore has logged 74 strikeouts against 13 walks and six earned runs through 37.1 innings. Mississippi State tops the nation in strikeouts per nine innings.

If there’s an issue for Notre Dame at the plate, look no farther than scoring runs. The Irish rank 69th in on-base percentage and 139th in walks with a schedule against ACC pitching.

As Mississippi State dominates with the strikeout, the Notre Dame pitching staff does the opposite, ranking just 190th per nine innings.

The price for this series based on rotations and bullpens is Mississippi State -175.

If we take a trip down narrative street, it may be tough to find a Notre Dame series played in humid weather. Starkville is looking at 90 degrees with max humidity for the series, a stark contrast for the Irish, who had road series at Boston College and Pittsburgh in the month of April.

Pick: Mississippi State -175


Bulldogs photo via Mississippi State Athletics.

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Dallas Baptist vs. Virginia

Columbia Regional
June 12-14*
Game
Dallas Baptist
Virginia
Proj.
1
Dominic Hamel
Andrew Abbott
UVA -110
2
Rhett Kouba
Mike Vasil
DBU -130
3*
Luke Eldred
Matt Wyatt
UVA -105

Virginia is sneaking through most brackets undetected thanks to an opening loss to South Carolina in the Columbia regional.

Weather extended the Columbia finale to Tuesday morning, when the Cavaliers executed a comeback in the eighth inning that resulted in a 10th-inning regional clincher.

Be aware of Cavalier Devin Ortiz, who pitched the first four innings before homering in extras.

What the Hoos lack in hitting, they more than make up for in pitching. Virginia ranks 15th in ERA and eighth in strikeouts per nine, compensating for an offense that has been anemic most of the season.

Starter Andrew Abbott is second nationally in strikeouts, while closer Stephen Schoch has 52 punchouts over 35.2 innings. The Virginia pitchers will look to avoid a roster full of bombers in Dallas Baptist as much as possible.

DBU second baseman Jackson Glenn has 19 home runs on the season, leading the Pats to a rank of fourth in home runs per game and fifth in slugging percentage.

Dallas Baptist does have a good one-two punch on the starting staff, but ace Dominic Hamel was shredded by Oregon State in the Fort Worth opener. Hamel allowed five earned runs in 6.1 innings while totaling 95 pitches. The staff ace has exceeded seven innings pitched in an outing just once the entire season.

Abbott should outduel Hamel in the opener, where Virginia is technically the host.

The Cavaliers are finding ways to win ball games late, a characteristic that always fits an underdog’s profile on the journey to Omaha.

Virginia is a team I would take a longshot flier on to win the whole championship. The winner of this super regional avoids the Arkansas-Vanderbilt side of the bracket and gets Texas in its respective bracket final.

Pick: Virginia -115 or better


Patriots photo via Dallas Baptist Athletics. Cavaliers photo via Virginia Athletics.

»» Return to the table of contents ««


LSU vs. Tennessee

Knoxville Regional
June 12-14*
Game
LSU
Tennessee
Proj.
1
Landon Marceaux
Chad Dallas
TENN -130
2
AJ Labas
Blade Tidwell
TENN -170
3*
Ma’Khail Hilliard
Will Heflin
TENN -140

The easiest handicap on the board may be the two SEC teams that played a conference series in late March.

Tennessee ultimately swept in Knoxville, but the combined margin of victory was four runs. LSU twice had late leads, and Mother Nature played a large factor in the delay of Game 2.

The starting pitchers for Games 1 and 3 of the Knoxville series are expected to be the same as those taking the bump in Games 1 and 2 of this super regional, so there are plenty of analytics to pull from the series. 

During the March 26 series, LSU outhit Tennessee in every box score, while Tennessee’s pitching staff dominated Tiger hitters from a strikeout perspective.

The Volunteers boast a top-five rank nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Blade Tidwell has been the iron man of the group, consistently going over 100 pitches in each outing. The pitching staff is backed by an offense that has walk-off home runs against Arkansas and Wright State.

LSU gave Tennessee all it could handle earlier in the season on this same turf.

There’s still not much separating these two clubs from an analytics perspective, but because of starters and bullpen FIP, the true odds of the series are closer to Tennessee -225.

That creates massive value in the current market that lists LSU at +325. This series is expected to go three games and be a nail-biter through every pitch.

Buy the Tigers down to the appropriate price of +175.

Pick: LSU +325 (down to +175)


Volunteers photo via Tennessee Athletics.

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What Does PK Mean in Soccer Betting? No, Not Penalty Kick

pk-soccer betting

A PK or pick’em in soccer betting is essentially a point spread in which neither team is getting any points. It’s also sometimes shown as +0 or -0.

If the team you bet at a PK wins, you win your bet. If the match ends in a draw, your bet is refunded, because it’s considered a push at +0 or -0 on the spread.

(Spread betting  is about the margin of victory; if you bet a team at +1, you’d win your bet if the match ends in a draw, and push if your team loses by one goal).

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Betting a PK is the same as a Draw No Bet wager, and odds posted by sportsbooks should be the same, or very close.

If the teams are evenly-matched, each team will be about -110 on the PK. But if one is much better, the odds will reflect that.

Let’s use Euro 2020 as an example (learn how to read American odds here if these numbers aren’t making sense).

France PK is -121 against Germany, because the two teams are considered fairly even. You have to wager $12.10 to win $10 on France — if they win, your bet cashes, if it’s a draw, your bet is refunded. Same goes for Germany, but you would bet $10 to win $10.

Team Odds Probability
France PK -121 52%
Germany PK +100 48%

Italy on the other hand is a big favorite over Turkey, so their odds at a PK reflect that.

At a PK, Italy is -700. That means an Italy win cashes the bet, but a draw and your bet gets refunded. You’re risking $70 to win $10 on this bet, and this outcome has a greater than 84% chance of winning. If Italy loses, you lose the $70.

Team Odds Probability
Italy PK -700 84%
Turkey PK +500 16%

BetMGM and other sportsbooks give you tons of spread options, with the odds adjusted to match the likelihood of it happening.

Italy at -1 is -107 — sportsbooks give the Italians about a 50% chance to win by one goal. But Italy -2.5 is +480, meaning you’ll get nearly a 5x return on your bet if they win by three goals or more.

Turkey is +500 at a PK. A Turkey win and you 5x your return, a draw and your bet gets refunded.

In reality, many soccer bets are dressed up a little differently but mean the same thing. That’s why the odds for Draw No Bet and a PK are the same.

2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree Round 2 Buys and Fades: Grab Dustin Johnson at Plus-Money While You Can

2021-palmetto-championship-round-2-buys-fades-dustin-johnson

While the Palmetto Championship at Congaree lacks the field depth that we have become accustomed to over the last few months on TOUR, it still has some stars. The main one, Dustin Johnson, finally played like that number one player in the world on Thursday as he set the pace with a 6-under 65 to start the tournament.

He was matched at that number by three others in the opening round, which held the lead throughout most of the day, until Wes Roach posted a 7-under 64 late in the afternoon. Roach had six birdies, an eagle and just one bogey on Thursday and will go into Friday with his first overnight lead on TOUR.

Overall, 53 players shot under par to start their week, giving us a view that scores are available on this new course. There are plenty of names packed together on the leaderboard, with a big name up top, creating a lot of betting value going into the second round on Friday.

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Strokes Gained Explanation

Strokes Gained can give golf bettors, DFS players and fans way more detail on how a golfer is truly playing by measuring each shot in relation to the rest of the field.

Using the millions of data points it collects, the TOUR calculates how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. If a player beats those averages, he’s gaining strokes on the field.

Every situation in golf is different — Strokes Gained measures how players perform relative to the situation.

In this piece, we’ll touch on a variety of Strokes Gained metrics…

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (which is Off-the-Tee + Approach)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (which is Ball-Striking + Around-the-Green)

In general, ball-striking and tee-to-green are the most stable long term, while putting is more prone to volatility.

You can often find live-betting advantages by identifying golfers who are hitting the ball well, but just not getting putts to drop. Likewise, players with high SG: Putting numbers may regress moving forward.

3 Golfers to Buy in Round 2

If Dustin Johnson continues to play like he did on Thursday, he will run away with this event. It has been a while since we have seen this form from the World No. 1, even for 18 holes, which has me believing he may be dialed in for a win this week.

DJ led the field on strokes gained tee to green in the opening round and finally paired it with a good putter. His bogey-free 65 was a clean round, but despite gaining more than a stroke on the field in every metric, he actually left some shots out there. I am not usually one to suggest a player so early at just +225 on William Hill, but it may be the best we see the rest of the way. This has all of the feelings of a runaway win, and if that is the case, this is likely the last time we see him at plus money.

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It’s hard for me not to see what Chez Reavie has done this week as a great sign for his game and possibly for some momentum for him to build upon into the weekend. Chez and Erik Van Rooyen tied for the medalist position at the 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier in Columbus, Ohio on Monday. They cleared the rest of the field in the most difficult qualifier by two shots, over a number of household names on TOUR. Both players carried that into their opening rounds at Congaree, but it’s Reavie’s that sticks out for me.

He shot a bogey-free 67 where he missed just two fairways, and three greens during the round. We know that Chez has the talent to compete in any field, as he has done in major championships and TOUR events alike, but it has been a struggle for him this season. In fact, he’s missed six straight cuts, though he is positioned to play the weekend and potentially be a factor this week.

I’m going to take a shot at a solid number on DraftKings at +5000, hoping that he found something in his 12-under, 36-hole qualifying marathon. This is a field where if he were in form, Reavie would’ve been a name in this odds position to start the week.

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Leading into the week I kept talking about the talented young players in this field that might be positioned to breakthrough. Will Gordon was one I had in mind, though I never got there before he teed off on Thursday.

Gordon has my interest now after a firing 3-under 68 to start his week. He did it with fantastic ball-striking where he gained 3.7 strokes on the field, including more than two strokes with his off-the-tee game. Gordon is known to be a long hitter, and someone that when dialed in with his irons, has flashed the ability to be a factor in a given week. I’ve seen enough through 18 holes to take a stab at the young Vanderbilt product, especially with +10000 available at BetMGM.

_BookPromo=245

3 Golfers to Fade in Round 2

The last time we seemingly saw Erik Van Rooyen, he was making a GIF out of himself as he took some swipes in anger at the tee marker at the PGA Championship. He has reigned that in, at least for now, this week at the Palmetto Championship where he shot an opening round 6-under 65.

EVR was steady throughout his round on Thursday as he gained strokes on the field across every strokes gained category to start the week. He has always been a player that can score and go low in any round, but he has been plagued by the big number this season as he ranks 180th in bogey avoidance.

The South African was able to escape his opening round with just one bogey and seven birdies. My concern for EVR the rest of the way is that this appears to be a course where players can get in trouble and reel off bogeys. I know he won’t be able to sustain the putting pace he set on Thursday with more than four strokes gained on the greens, and I think we will see him get bitten by these issues as we head into the weekend.

Another player that was leaning heavily on his short game to start the week was Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The big man posted a solid 4-under 67 on the day, which was a welcome sign no matter how it came together for a player that has missed four straight cuts on TOUR.

He will struggle to maintain his position in the top 10 on the current leaderboard unless he cleans things up with his irons. Aphibarnrat lost strokes to the field on approach on Thursday, but made up for it by gaining more than four strokes on and around the greens. I am putting in the early fade on Kiradech as this round, while solid, has enough holes to have me believing he may struggle on Friday.

The final fade going into the second round is with Chris Baker. He also posted a solid under-par round of 68, but he somehow managed it while losing 1.82 strokes to the field on approach. He was the worst player in the top 20 with his irons on Thursday, but ranked fourth in the field putting.

Baker came in to this week off of the high of making the U.S. Open through qualifying, which is undoubtedly a big moment in his career. He is likely to have an eye on California if things start to go sideways on Friday, and his opening round approach stats show the signs of a player that was starting to lose his game a bit. I’ll put my early fade in on Baker who may struggle to hold his name inside of the cut if he doesn’t find something in the second round.

Strokes Gained Data for All Players in Round 1

3 NBA Player Prop Bets for Thursday: Paul George Can’t Be This Bad Again, Can He?

nba-player props-picks-june 10-2021-paul george

The Bucks got absolutely embarrassed in Games 1 and 2 against the Nets. And normally it’s not so devastating to lose twice on the road to start a series, but these games were barely even contested, and unless Milwaukee wins back at home tonight, this thing is a wrap.

Out west, Los Angeles Clippers are looking to avoid the 0-2 hole the Bucks are already in, the same hole they just finished digging out of. For both of these teams, their backs are against the wall. What can two desperate teams find answers? Maybe our three props below can help.

For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NBA projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.

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

Bryn Forbes, over 9.5 points (-130)

Nets at Bucks -3.5
Time | TV 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN
Best Book FanDuel

Much has been said about Milwaukee’s inability to stop Brooklyn’s attack, even without James Harden, but I’m much more concerned about this putrid offensive effort. Remember how the Nets are supposed to be bad at defense? Milwaukee can’t score, and the Bucks aren’t even generating good looks.

The Bucks don’t have a ton of answers they can try, but one of them is more Bryn Forbes. Forbes is this team’s designated shooter, and he was always going to need to do more once Donte DiVincenzo went out for the season. Still, Milwaukee has started P.J. Tucker instead of DiVincenzo in both games so far, hoping Tucker’s defense could slow down Kevin Durant.

(Uhh… it’s not working).

Tucker had a great couple minutes out of the gates and has looked defeated ever since. His only real role in this series is to defend KD, so if that’s really not happening, then there’s not much other reason to keep Tucker out there. Maybe he can hit the occasional corner 3, especially as Milwaukee increasingly ignores him on the perimeter, but he’s cramping the Bucks spacing and just not adding enough.

I think we might get less Tucker going forward, and Forbes is the first option Milwaukee should try. He’s not a good defender, but it’s not like Milwaukee is stopping Brooklyn anyway, so the Bucks may as well try to score. And sure enough, Forbes actually played 16 first-half minutes in Game 2, but not many noticed since the game was over midway through the third and the rotations got all funky from there.

Role players typically play better at home in the playoffs, and shooters tend to shoot better there, too. Forbes has already had a couple huge playoff games, and he’s averaging 12.5 points per game so far in the postseason and making 45% of his 7.0 3-point attempts per game. He’s had double digits in four of six playoff games this year, going over this line 67% of the time.

The Bucks need offense, and that means speeding up the tempo and getting higher quality shots up. I like Forbes to have another good game, and I’ll play the over to -150. I’m also seeing this at 10.5 at some books for around even odds, and that’s a playable pivot too if you don’t have the 9.5 at a good number.

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Marcus Morris, over 1.5 threes (-165)

Clippers at Jazz +3
Time | TV 10 p.m. ET | ESPN
Best Book BetMGM

Folks, I am about to blow your mind with this fact.

Are you ready for this?

Marcus Morris — yes, THAT Marcus Morris — is the third most accurate playoff 3-point shooter in NBA history.

Yep. It’s true. Among shooters with at least 100 makes, Morris ranks third all time at a sparkling 42.8% from behind the arc. Actually, he ranked second all time until Game 1, when he was 1-of-9 on 3s. The top two shooters are Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Jeff Hornacek, by the way — at least until Morris has another huge game.

If you’ve ever watched even five minutes of Marcus Morris before, you know he’s not exactly about to stop shooting just because he missed a few shots in Game 1. Morris has been firing all postseason. He’s taken at least five 3-point attempts in six of eight games and is averaging 2.3 makes on 38%, even after that Game 1 doozy.

Morris is playing 33.4 minutes a game in the playoffs, and that number may go up in Game 2 since it sure looks like the Clippers will match up best against Utah by playing small and switching everything, like they did against Utah. That should mean heavy Morris minutes, and if he’s out there, he’s going to be shooting.

Morris is getting up a ton of shots right now, usually between five and nine 3s a game. And we only need two! This line is already juiced pretty high, but that’s because it should probably be at 2.5 instead when Morris is playing and shooting this much. I’d play to at least -200.

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Paul George, over 31.5 points + rebounds (-111)

Clippers at Jazz +3
Time | TV 10 p.m. ET | ESPN
Best Book PointsBet

Paul George can’t possibly play this bad forever… right?

PG shot 4-of-17 in Game 1 against Utah. In Game 7 against Dallas, he was only 5-for-15. The game before that, 6-of-15. In five straight games, Paul George has taken at least 15 shots, and in all five of them, he’s made no more than seven. During that stretch, PG is shooting an astonishingly horrid 35.9%. Like… not on 3s. That’s his field goal percentage. It’s bad, folks.

But here’s the thing. Even as bad as he’s shot over that stretch, George still averaged 21.0 PPG. He’s getting to the line a ton right now and hitting a few 3s, and he’s still taking plenty of shots. George is also averaging 9.6 rebounds per game in that stretch, in part because he’s playing huge minutes in these playoffs.

George has played just over 40 minutes a game this postseason, and even as much as he’s missing, he’s still averaging 23.1 PPG. That’s about in line with his season average of 23.3, but the rebounds are way up from 6.6 to 9.1 RPG.

So which of those numbers makes more sense?

The rebounds, of course. George is playing more, a lot more. He’s up from 33.8 to 40.2 minutes a game, a 19% increase in playing time. Increase PG’s regular season numbers accordingly and he’d jump from 23.3/6.6 to 27.8/7.9. The rebounds have gone up even higher, perhaps because the Clippers are playing so much small ball and PG is playing big.

George is still scoring and producing, even while he shoots poorly. He’s averaging 32.2 points + rebounds a game and has gone over 31.5 in half of his playoff games. He’s also had at least 28 PR in every game, a very high floor that puts us in reach even if PG goes cold yet again.

The Clippers need Paul George to step up. Now we need him too. I’ll play the combo over to -125.

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Dallas Baptist vs. Virginia College Baseball Odds & Pick: How to Bet the Columbia Super Regional

dallas baptist vs. virginia-college baseball-super regionals-betting-odds-picks-predictions-college world series

Dallas Baptist vs. Virginia Odds & Schedule

Columbia Regional: June 12-14*

Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
Dallas Baptist
-110
-110
+2500
Virginia
-110
-110
+3000
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.
  • Game 1: Saturday, noon ET on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Sunday, noon ET on ESPN2/ESPNU
  • Game 3*: Monday, 1 p.m. ET on ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

Dallas Baptist (40-16) vs. Virginia (33-24)

Series Betting Analysis

Virginia is sneaking through most brackets undetected thanks to an opening loss to South Carolina in the Columbia regional.

Weather extended the Columbia finale to Tuesday morning, when the Cavaliers executed a comeback in the eighth inning that resulted in a 10th-inning regional clincher.

Be aware of Cavalier Devin Ortiz, who pitched the first four innings before homering in extras.

What the Hoos lack in hitting, they more than make up for in pitching. Virginia ranks 15th in ERA and eighth in strikeouts per nine, compensating for an offense that has been anemic most of the season.

Starter Andrew Abbott is second nationally in strikeouts, while closer Stephen Schoch has 52 punchouts over 35.2 innings. The Virginia pitchers will look to avoid a roster full of bombers in Dallas Baptist as much as possible.

DBU second baseman Jackson Glenn has 19 home runs on the season, leading the Pats to a rank of fourth in home runs per game and fifth in slugging percentage.

Dallas Baptist does have a good one-two punch on the starting staff, but ace Dominic Hamel was shredded by Oregon State in the Fort Worth opener. Hamel allowed five earned runs in 6.1 innings while totaling 95 pitches. The staff ace has exceeded seven innings pitched in an outing just once the entire season.

Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
Dallas Baptist
Virginia
Proj.
1
Dominic Hamel
Andrew Abbott
UVA -110
2
Rhett Kouba
Mike Vasil
DBU -130
3*
Luke Eldred
Matt Wyatt
UVA -105

Abbott should outduel Hamel in the opener, where Virginia is technically the host.

The Cavaliers are finding ways to win ball games late, a characteristic that always fits an underdog’s profile on the journey to Omaha.

Virginia is a team I would take a longshot flier on to win the whole championship. The winner of this super regional avoids the Arkansas-Vanderbilt side of the bracket and gets Texas in its respective bracket final.

Pick: Virginia -115 or better

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LSU vs. Tennessee College Baseball Super Regional Odds, Projections & Series Schedule

lsu tigers-vs-tennessee volunteers-college baseball-super regionals-odds-picks-betting-projections-series-schedule-2021

LSU vs. Tennessee Odds & Schedule

Knoxville Regional: June 12-14*

Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
LSU
+185
+300
+4000
Tennessee
-225
-400
+550
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.
  • Game 1: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
  • Game 2: Sunday, noon ET or 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU
  • Game 3*: Monday, 4 p.m. ET or 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

LSU (38-23) vs. No. 3 Tennessee (48-16)

Series Betting Analysis

The easiest handicap on the board may be the two SEC teams that played a conference series in late March.

Tennessee ultimately swept in Knoxville, but the combined margin of victory was four runs. LSU twice had late leads, and Mother Nature played a large factor in the delay of Game 2.

The starting pitchers for Games 1 and 3 of the Knoxville series are expected to be the same as those taking the bump in Games 1 and 2 of this super regional, so there are plenty of analytics to pull from the series.

During the March 26 series, LSU outhit Tennessee in every box score, while Tennessee’s pitching staff dominated Tiger hitters from a strikeout perspective.

The Volunteers boast a top-five rank nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Blade Tidwell has been the iron man of the group, consistently going over 100 pitches in each outing. The pitching staff is backed by an offense that has walk-off home runs against Arkansas and Wright State.


Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
LSU
Tennessee
Proj.
1
Landon Marceaux
Chad Dallas
TENN -130
2
AJ Labas
Blade Tidwell
TENN -170
3*
Ma’Khail Hilliard
Will Heflin
TENN -140

LSU gave Tennessee all it could handle earlier in the season on this same turf.

There’s still not much separating these two clubs from an analytics perspective, but because of starters and bullpen FIP, the true odds of the series are closer to Tennessee -225.

That creates massive value in the current market that lists LSU at +325. This series is expected to go three games and be a nail-biter through every pitch.

Buy the Tigers down to the appropriate price of +175.

Pick: LSU +325 (down to +175)

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Notre Dame vs. Mississippi State College Baseball Odds & Pick: How to Bet the Starkville Super Regional

notre dame vs. mississippi state-college baseball-super regionals-betting-odds-pick-prediction-college world series

Notre Dame vs. Mississippi State Odds & Schedule

Starkville Regional: June 12-14*

Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
Notre Dame
+105
+140
+1800
Mississippi State
-125
-175
+1200
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.

  • Game 1: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
  • Game 2: Sunday, 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU
  • Game 3*: Monday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

No. 10 Notre Dame (33-11) vs. No. 7 Mississippi State (43-15)

Series Betting Analysis

Just a reminder that if there is a factor of home-field advantage, then there are two stadiums of note: Baum in Fayetteville and Dudy Noble in Starkville.

Outside of Lubbock, Dudy Noble has the highest Park Factors rating when it comes to runs scored. This regional figures to be a barn-burner between an SEC stronghold and a Notre Dame team playing with a chip on its shoulder for not being a top-eight seed.

The placement of the Irish was a clear reflection of their RPI, a rank that was affected by non-conference COVID-19 cancellations.

Notre Dame swept the South Bend regional with a combined score of 50-5.

John Michael Bertrand threw a complete-game five-hitter against Central Michigan, while the offense put up six home runs in a rout of UConn.

The Bulldog pitching duo of Will Bednar and Christian MacLeod will presumably put up more of a challenge than the pitching staff of UConn and Central Michigan. Both starters have combined for 215 strikeouts through 146.2 innings on the season.

Landon Sims has been the anchor for the bullpen and may be the second-best closer in the nation. The sophomore has logged 74 strikeouts against 13 walks and six earned runs through 37.1 innings. Mississippi State tops the nation in strikeouts per nine innings.

Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
Notre Dame
Mississippi State
Proj.
1
John Michael Bertrand
Will Bednar
MSST -190
2
Tanner Kohlhepp
Christian MacLeod
MSST -150
3*
Aidan Tyrell
Houston Harding
MSST -200

If there’s an issue for Notre Dame at the plate, look no farther than scoring runs. The Irish rank 69th in on-base percentage and 139th in walks with a schedule against ACC pitching.

As Mississippi State dominates with the strikeout, the Notre Dame pitching staff does the opposite, ranking just 190th per nine innings.

The price for this series based on rotations and bullpens is Mississippi State -175.

If we take a trip down narrative street, it may be tough to find a Notre Dame series played in humid weather. Starkville is looking at 90 degrees with max humidity for the series, a stark contrast for the Irish, who had road series at Boston College and Pittsburgh in the month of April.

Pick: Mississippi State -175

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South Florida vs. Texas College Baseball Super Regionals Odds, Projections & Series Schedule

south florida bulls-vs-texas longhorns-college baseball-super regional-odds-picks-projections-series schedule-2021

South Florida vs. Texas Odds & Schedule

Austin Regional: June 12-14*

Odds
Game 1
Series
Futures
South Florida
+525
+900
+6600
Texas
-750
-2000
+550
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.
  • Game 1: Saturday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Sunday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU
  • Game 3*: Monday, 4 p.m. ET or 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPNU

Series schedule and programming are subject to change due to flex scheduling and inclement weather.


Collin Wilson’s Super Regionals Betting Guide

South Florida (31-28) vs. No. 2 Texas (45-15)

Series Betting Analysis

Easily the most lopsided “Super” on the board, the question remains whether or not South Florida can bottle up its winning ways and continue in Austin.

Heading into the regionals, the Bulls ranked outside the top 100 in home runs per game, slugging and fielding percentage.

Winners of nine of its last 11, South Florida beat a Florida team that made the semifinals of the SEC Tournament before routing Miami.

After trading games with South Alabama, South Florida will bring just one top-25 stat to Texas: Sacrifice flies.

Unlike South Florida, there are not many categories in which the Longhorns fall out of the top 100. Texas is top-25 in fielding percentage, on-base percentage and stolen bases.


Probable Starting Pitchers & Projected Odds

Game
South Florida
Texas
Proj.
1
Jack Jasiak
Tristan Stevens
TEX -250
2
Collin Sullivan
Ty Madden
TEX -260
3*
Brad Lord
Pete Hansen
TEX -300

Why is Texas fetching numbers so high in the regional market? Starting pitchers Tristan Stevens and Ty Madden have been nothing but electric. This is the top pitching staff in the nation, ranking first in earned run average.

The series price should mathematically fetch -900, but a better bet may be a future.

The Longhorns would enter Omaha on the other side of the bracket of Arkansas and Vanderbilt, giving their odds value considering the small hurdle of South Florida.

Pick: Texas -2000 | Championship Future +800

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Euro 2020 Odds, Betting Picks & Predictions: Tournament Winner, Player of the Tournament, Golden Boot Picks & More

Few sporting events in the world can match the pageantry, spectacle and drama of the European Championships.

International soccer’s second-biggest competition has been held every four years since 1960, with the 2020 competition being postponed until this year due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

While it was disappointing at the time to see Euro 2020 delayed, it will add a welcome boost to the summer, as bettors will have the opportunity to sink their teeth into 51 matches over the next month.

From outright bets to longshots to Golden Boot and Golden Ball, our soccer analysts have compiled their favorite bets for Euro 2020 below:


(Click below to jump to the analysis for each section.)

Euro 2020 Picks & Predictions

Outright Picks | Longshot Bets | Top Goalscorer | Player of the Tournament

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Outright Picks

BJ Cunningham

Netherlands +1500

You could make the argument that the Netherlands has the most young talent of anybody in this tournament. The Dutch have two of the best players under the age of 24 in center back Matthijs de Ligt, who plays for Juventus, and central midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who plays for Barcelona.

Even though the Dutch are going to be without the best defender in the world in Liverpool’s Virgil van Djik, the center of their defense is still stacked with the previously mentioned de Ligt and Inter Milan defender Stefan de Vrij, who was a key part of their Serie A title-winning defense that allowed only 1.07 xG per match.

Netherlands finished second to Germany in their qualifying group, but their defense was incredibly impressive, allowing only 1.03 xG per match. In fact, if you take out their two matches against Germany and include their three World Cup qualifying matches from late March, the Dutch defense has allowed a total of 5.33 expected goals in nine matches.

The Dutch attack has been very impressive during both Euro qualifying and World Cup qualifying, averaging 2.84 xG per match, which is the third-best mark coming into the tournament behind Spain and Italy. Now they haven’t played the stiffest of competition, but in their two matches against Germany during Euro qualifying, the Dutch created a total over 4.60 expected goals over the two matches.

All in all, the Dutch should be able to cruise through this group, with first place being a priority.

If they win Group C, the Dutch would play a third-place team from Groups D, E, or F in the Round of 16 and then the second-place finisher from Group A or B, which would likely be Denmark, Turkey, or Switzerland, in the quarterfinals.

Anthony Dabbundo

Portugal +900 

Portugal’s placement in the group of death hurts their chances of getting out of the group stage, but given the current format, they are still pretty likely to qualify for the knockout stage. It’s once they are there that they become quite dangerous. If Portugal finishes third in its group, it faces a potential path of the Netherlands and likely Denmark/Turkey/Switzerland en route to a semifinal. If they win Group F, its path to the semifinals could be even easier.

They have all of the ingredients of a title winning team. Pepe and Ruben Dias are as good of a center back pairing as any in this tournament. Ruben Neves is their ball-winning midfielder and just had an excellent year in Wolves’ midfield. Bruno Fernandes will be playing behind Diogo Jota, Christiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva and those four will be a nightmare to defend in transition. They’ll have the ability to rotate players in attack too, with Frankfurt’s Andre Silva and Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix serving as backup attackers.

Add in that they have the two of the best attacking fullbacks in the world with Joao Cancelo and Raphael Guerriero and Portugal can absolutely make a deep run and win this tournament.

Jeremy Pond

Spain +900

So, just like everyone else, I love France.

Le Bleus is beyond stacked with talent from top to bottom. And just how good is this deserved betting favorite at +480 odds? The country could probably qualify a second team in this European showcase that would make the knockout round.

However, I’m not one to be a chalk eater, I’m taking a swing with Spain at +900 odds at DraftKings as my top pick. I know, La Furia Roja hve been anything but spectacular of late. The nation hasn’t reached the quarterfinal round of a tournament since winning the title at the 2012 edition of this event.

Needless to say, the number and potential path to the final are just too good for me to overlook when combining both such solid betting value. A date with England or Germany awaits it in the quarterfinals if all goes as planned in the group stage and Round of 16, but I truly believe Spain will be up to the task facing either at that point.

Spain has a stellar attack, led by Álvaro Morata (Juventus) and rising star Ferran Torres of Manchester City. Torres, who’s just 21 years old, scored a hat trick in Spain’s 6-0 shellacking of Germany in a Nations League game in November. Throw in Gerard Moreno from Europa League-winning side Villarreal and you have a trio of threats up top that can wreak havoc on any opposing defense in front of them at this showcase.

Matthew Trebby

France +480

There are eight countries listed at +1200 or lower. With odds like that, I think you just take the best team.

I do like the value on Italy at +1200. Roberto Mancini has proven goalscorers, as well as a young and talented midfield. Unfortunately, a backline that is void of talent at its peak keeps me away from them.

On paper, France is by far the best team. Not only are the French the reigning world champions, but they are stacked at every level of the field. They could put together another squad of 23 and likely make the quarterfinals.

In attack, the potential addition of Karim Benzema, who left a Tuesday friendly against Bulgaria with an apparent injury, seems to have been received well by the rest of the squad (aside from Olivier Giroud, probably). A midfield pair of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante is stellar, although I do have questions about the depth behind Kante since his role is so unique.

The defense is the noteworthy question mark, given Raphael Varane’s lack of form against top opposition this season for Real Madrid. Between him, Presnel Kimpembe and Clement Legnlet, though, I won’t doubt whatever pairing they put in the center of defense. At left back, they can go between the attack-minded Lucas Digne and the incredibly defensively stout Lucas Hernandez, who could shuffle in at center back if necessary.

Of the big eight in this tournament, France has the fewest question marks and just three years ago won the world championships with a very similar squad. Antoine Griezmann and Giroud are the only major outfield players north of 30. This team is in its prime and poised to win more.


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Thomas Eisenhuth/Getty Images. Pictured: Tomas Soucek

Longshot Bets

BJ Cunningham

Czech Republic (+15000)

It’s really hard to ignore how impressive the Czechs have been during both Euro and World Cup Qualifying. They finished second in their qualifying group to England, but were very solid during their eight matches, scoring 1.80 xG per match, while only allowing 1.04 xG. In fact, they actually beat England, 2-1, during qualifying and deserved to win the match, outshooting the Three Lions, 17-7, and winning the expected goals battle, 1.99 to 1.82. England’s only goal in that match came from a Harry Kane penalty, so the Czech’s actually held one of the best attacks in the world to only 1.06 expected goals from open play.

Outside of their opening 5-0 loss to England, the Czechs won the expected goals battle in every single match during qualifying. They followed that up with two very tough World Cup qualifying matches against Belgium and Wales in late March, and were very splendid again. They drew Belgium, 1-1, in Prague and actually outplayed the top-ranked team in the world, outshooting them, 15-10, and winning the expected goals battle 1.67 to 1.30.

They did lose 1-0 to Wales on the road, but really deserved the win, holding 57% possession, outshooting Wales, 12-8, and edging the Dragons on xG, 1.37 to 0.97.

The Czechs have a solid roster, with a lot of guys that play in one of Europe’s major five leagues. Their best player is West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek, who was one of the Hammers’ key players and helped guide them to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League, scoring a team high 10 goals from the defensive midfield position.

They also have a fantastic center forward in Patrik Schick, who plays for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga and bagged nine goals and put up a 0.45 xG per 90 minute scoring rate this season. The Locomotive also have a lot of pace on the outside with a guy who a lot of the top clubs will be fawning over in a few years in Adam Hlozek. At only 18 years old, Hlozek scored 15 goals and dished out 8 assists for Sparta Prague in only 19 appearances in the Czech First Division.

If the Czechs finish second in Group D, they’d likely play Sweden or Poland in the Round of 16 before things get dicey with a likely showdown with either France, Germany, or Portugal in the quarterfinals. The Locomotive will certainly be huge underdogs in that match, but if you’re betting a longshot you’re going to need to take down the big boys at some point.

Anthony Dabbundo

Switzerland (+6600)

I really wanted to go with Denmark here, but my concerns about the mileage on their midfield this year and their reduced price is keeping me away from them. My next team is Switzerland, who is worth a flier at 60-1 to lift the trophy. Much like the Danes, the Swiss could be in the same corner of the potential bracket that most experts are eyeing for a dark horse.

The runner up of B vs the runner up of A could be Switzerland vs. Denmark, with the winner potentially seeing the Netherlands. I’d like Switzerland’s chances in both of those matchups and once in the semifinals, we can look to potentially hedge.

As far as their roster, they’ll probably play a back three of Manuel Akanji (Dortmund), Nico Elvedi (Gladbach) and Fabian Schar (Newcastle). They’ve performed well in World Cup qualifiers and will have protection from the tournament’s most underrated midfield in Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Gladbach) and Remo Freuler (Atalanta).

Switzerland has lacked upside because of its lacking creativity and goal scoring in years past. But Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool) playing Breel Embolo (Gladbach) in behind with Kevin Mbabu (Wolfsburg) and Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino) providing creativity from wide is a strong attack compared to tournaments past.

They have the pieces to surprise some teams and are defensively solid enough to trust.

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Breel Embolo

Matt Trebby

Switzerland (+6600)

The Swiss are perennially a tough out in international competition. Vladimir Petkovic has continued the run of organized, counter-attacking Swiss sides that have perennially made mini-runs in the World Cup or Euros.

This Switzerland squad enters with plenty of defenders coming off solid seasons at big European clubs. Expect Manuel Akanji to partner Nico Elvedi or Fabian Schar with Ricardo Rodriguez (how is he only 28?) and Kevin Mbabu at fullback.

Granit Xhaka is much-maligned at Arsenal, but he fits this team well. Denis Zakaria has been linked to the Gunners, and his athleticism in the middle of the park is a huge boost. Remo Freuler also could play a big role after a strong season at Atalanta.

The attack has question marks, I’m not going to lie. But the Swiss know how to frustrate teams. Xhedran Shaqiri is known for his big moments for the national team, and it wouldn’t shock me if he came up with another couple to earn a move away from Liverpool.

The Swiss aren’t sexy, but they’re the best longshot in this tournament.

Michael Leboff

Turkey (+5000)

Turkey are a high-ceiling, low-floor team that has the talent to pull a result against any team in this competition on their day. To illustrate that point all you need to do is look at the Crescent-Stars’ results leading up to this tournament.

Over the past 18 months or so, Turkey finished bottom of a group that included Russia, Hungary and Serbia in the UEFA Nations League. However, it also earned 3-3 draws against Germany and Croatia; beat the Netherlands, 4-2; dismantled Norway, 3-0; and, then added further confusion by drawing a home against Latvia.

In other words, this is a team that can beat anybody, but also lose to anybody.

Turkey’s defensive record mirrors its Jekyll-and-Hyde nature. After allowing just three goals in 10 games during Euro qualifying, Turkey went ahead and shipped 19 goals over its next 11 matches. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the Crescent-Stars have a solid defense on paper, with Merih Demiral (Juventus), Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester), Ozan Kabak (Liverpool) and Zeki Celik (Lille) featured in the back.

We have no idea which version of Turkey’s defense will show up, but backers can at least be confident that it has the talent to be a sturdy group and it shouldn’t be overmatched by Switzerland and Wales.

While Turkey’s defense and spine look to be in decent shape, its attack has the potential to make it a bona fide sleeper. Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan) is more than capable of pulling the strings and he will be supported by a cast that includes Zeki Celik, Burak Yilmaz and Yusuf Yazici, all three of whom are coming to the Euros on the heels of winning Ligue 1 with upstart Lille.

Just like with any longshot in this tournament, Turkey lacks some depth and has a couple of weak spots, but I’d also argue that the Crescent-Stars have the strongest starting XI of any team in the mid-tier and have the upside you need from an outsider.

In addition to the talent on the roster, Turkey also has a decent path to the quarterfinals if it can manage to finish second (or first) in Group A. If it finishes as runner-up, Turkey’s likeliest opponent in the Round of 16 would be Denmark and a possible showdown with the Netherlands awaiting in the quarterfinals.

We’ve seen some big longshots win the Euros in the past. In 1992, Denmark won the competition only after taking Yugoslavia’s spot in the tournament because of a civil war. Twelve years later, it was The Piratiko Greek team that won Euro 2004 as 80/1 outsiders.

While most of the time these tournaments will go to the headliners, there is always at least a little bit of chaos at the Euros and I think Turkey is a great candidate to be the causers of said chaos.

One thing I will note is that Turkey’s price has come down from 80/1 to 50/1 over the past few weeks. While 50/1 is still a good price, you can possibly get a better number by waiting out its tournament-opening match against Italy. The Azzurri are -190 favorites to win that match and if they do, the Crescent-Stars’ price should get longer.

Turnkey doesn’t need to win the match against Italy to advance, so while you run the risk of losing out on 50/1 should it win or draw with the group favorite, there is a pretty good chance you can get a much better number should it lose.

Ian Quillen

Denmark (+2500)

If you want to be precise about this, maybe this is a medium shot. Either way, I like how the tournament — and group stage in particular — sets up for the Danes given the price.

Denmark hasn’t suffered defeat to a team not named Belgium over the 2020-2021 calendar, and both their losses. And despite losing a pair of matches by two goals to the Red Devils, the Danes shaded the expected goals (xG) in both contests, according to FootyStats.org.

Then there’s the matter of venue in group play. Denmark plays all three of its matches in Copenhagen, while Belgium will be the unofficial away team twice, once against Denmark and once in their group opener against Russia in St. Petersburg.

Add to that that Kevin De Bruyne may be unavailable for manager Roberto Martinez in Belgium’s opening one or two matches, and I think there’s an excellent chance for Denmark to capture this group.

From there, they would earn the right to play a third-place team from one of four groups. If they survive that, most likely an Italy side who won eight in a row if you include friendlies, but who also haven’t faced much in the way of elite competition since a 1-1 Nations League draw against the Netherlands last October.

Denmark opted to play tougher pre-Euro friendlies than some, a choice that will prove itself a masterstroke if it sparks Yussuf Poulsen and Martin Brathwaite to life after subpar club campaigns. The former scored the leveler in a 1-1 draw against Germany and the latter the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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Ryan Pierse – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images. Pictured: Phil Foden

Top Goalscorer

BJ Cunningham

Alvaro Morata, Spain (+3000)

Morata is going to be Spain’s main front man because Spanish boss Luis Enriuque has only selected two other pure strikers, Iago Aspas and Pablo Sarabia, and no disrespect to those two but Morata is far and away Spain’s top choice up front.

Morata has kind of been in the shadows behind Cristiano Ronaldo this season at Juventus, but the 28-year-old still managed to score 20 goals in 44 appearances this season and carried a 0.50 xG per 90 minute scoring rate in the Serie A.

Spain is coming into the Euros sort of under the radar, as they are the sixth on the oddsboard at +900, but no offense has been more impressive during the Euro qualifiers. The Spainards averaged 3.73 xG per match, which was the best mark of anybody during the qualifying stage.

Plus, Spain has a fairly easy group to get out of consisting of Slovakia, Sweden and Poland, all of whom boast defenses that rank in the bottom half of expected goals allowed per match in this tournament. The key match is going to be against Slovakia because they are the worst defense in this field, allowing an average of 1.84 xG per match over Euro and World qualifiers.

So, at the tasty price of +3000, I think the main striker on the best offense coming into this tournament has a lot of value.

Anthony Dabbundo

Memphis Depay, Netherlands (+1500)

You could make an argument that Memphis is the most underrated attacker in the world. He struggled in a high-profile manner in his time at Manchester United, but that was then. This is now, and he just capped off another excellent season at Lyon. It was his best season of his career, averaging 0.55 xG per 90 and scoring 20 goals for the French side. He ranks in the top 10 percentile in progressive carries, progressive passing and shot creating actions.

The entire Netherlands attack funnels through him, which can limit the Dutch as a whole but opens up opportunities for him. In most knockout tournaments, these awards are decided in the group stage because knockout matches tend to be much lower scoring on average.

Netherlands has the easiest group in the entire field and Memphis could find goals to come easier against Austria, North Macedonia and Ukraine, none of which are strong defensively. Even if the Dutch get bounced in the round of 16 or quarterfinals, which I think they will, Memphis may have done enough before that.

Jeremy Pond

Memphis Depay (+1400)

As a Manchester United fan for close to two decades, there are only three player jerseys I own in my vast collection. They are Anthony Martial, Ángel Di María and Memphis Depay.

Obviously, two of those players had difficult tenures on the Old Trafford pitch, but it doesn’t mean things have gone as poorly for them after their respective Premier League exits.

Case in point: Memphis.

After skipping town with just two goals in 33 appearances with Manchester United, the frustrated striker took his talents to Ligue 1 powerhouse Lyon and has been tearing up opposing defenses in the French top flight.

Since his arrival in 2017, Memphis has scored 63 goals in 139 appearances across all competitions, giving him an impressive 0.45 goals per match with the club. He’s been just as consistent for the Dutch over the last four years as well, scoring 21 goals in 34 games.

Now, the 27-year-old standout has been tasked to lead the line at the Euros and should have plenty of scoring opportunities in a weak Group C that includes Austria, Ukraine and North Macedonia.

I have Netherlands cake-walking their way to the round of 16, where it would likely face Portugal (if my bracket prognosticating is right) in a battle of heavyweights. If the Dutch are fortunate to advance, a much easier meeting with Denmark or Switzerland awaits.

Bottom line, Memphis has the most ideal path of any forward in this tournament and should make the most of what should be a plethora of chances.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Depay, I stand with BJ and support taking a shot on Spain standout Álvaro Morata. The numbers continue to drift on the Juventus talisman for some odd reason. For example, Morata’s odds have gone from +2700 to +3000 on DraftKings. Needless to say, I’ve sprinkled a little on him at both numbers due to the fact they’re way too long in my opinion, especially since they shouldn’t run into any problems until the quarterfinal round.

Michael Leboff

Phil Foden, England (+8000)

Playing on the same team as Harry Kane is not ideal for Phil Foden’s chances to win the Golden Boot, but I think Kane’s presence will also inflate the number for some of his teammates, like Foden. The Man City wunderkind is coming off a break-out season in which he scored 16 goals in 50 games across all competitions for the Premier League champions. It should also be noted that, while Kane is rightly regarded as one of the world’s best goalscorers, he also is a fabulous facilitator and led the Premier League with 14 assists last season. If defenses sell out to stop Kane, he can lay the ball off to one of his ultra-talented teammates.

And don’t forget Golden Boot winners don’t need to exactly light the lamp. Antoine Griezmann won the award with six goals in 2016, the first year that the tournament expanded to 24 teams and four knock-out rounds. In other words, one big performance from Foden and he’ll be in the running. And since England will be big favorites to win their groups and will be expected to ship a few goals past teams like Scotland and the Czech Republic, there’s definitely potential for Foden to have a couple of big performances.

I understand that Foden isn’t a lock to start for England, but that’s not going to worry me at this price. He’s 80/1 for a reason, but I’ll bet on his talent at this number all day long.

Ian Quillen

Yussuf Poulsen, Denmark (+15000)

Lukaku was my favorite play, but since Matt made most of my case, I’ll throw out what I think is a good value longshot in Poulsen, the RB Leipzig attacker.

As I wrote earlier, I’m more bullish on Denmark’s chances than most to make a deep run in this tournament, and if they do Poulsen will be a part of it.

The 26-year-old is coming off a pair of underwhelming, five-goal Bundesliga seasons after he found the net 15 times in 2018-2019. But his conversion rate hasn’t fallen off as much as those numbers would suggest — he still averaged 0.33 goals per 90 minutes this season. It’s the playing time that has fallen.

That’s likely not going to be the case with Denmark, who are also playing a more proactive style under Kasper Hjulmand than they had in Euro qualifying under Age Hareide.

Then there’s the matter of their group-stage opposition: Denmark get to open against a Finland side that is an excellent story, but has also gone seven matches without keeping a clean sheet.

They close the group against a Russian side that has also struggled defensively and may be forced to play a more open brand of football than they’d like in search of a result that would see them through to the round of 16.

In 2004, Milan Baros proved it possible to shake off inconsistent form and playing time with your club side to be the top scorer in this tournament. If someone is going to do the same this summer, Poulsen fits the profile.

Matthew Trebby

Romelu Lukaku, Belgium (+650)

My initial instinct was to pick Harry Kane, who proved at the 2018 World Cup that he is the master of scoring against the lesser countries of international soccer.

Unfortunately for Kane, I’m not sure England is going to play beyond the Round of 16. The winner of Group D plays the runner-up from Group F, which features France, Germany and Portugal. I’m not too high on the English at the Euros and think they’d lose to any of those teams.

That leaves us the other favorite: Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku gets group-stage games against Denmark, Finland and Russia. The winner of Group B gets a third-place team from the group stages in the Round of 16.

Also, Belgium is ranked by FIFA as the No. 1 team in the world.

While Kevin De Bruyne may miss the first game or two of the group stage, Lukaku is a one-man wrecking machine. He scored in a friendly on Sunday against Croatia and played like the force he is.

With fantastic pace, size and skill, Lukaku has 47 goals through two seasons in Serie A and is coming off a league-winning campaign with Inter Milan. Also, he was named the Player of the Year in the Italian top flight.

Belgium is entering the final stages of its peak years. Players like De Bruyne and Eden Hazard aren’t getting any younger, and this might be their tournament to capitalize on and win.

Lukaku is all but guaranteed to get four games at EURO 2020 because of Belgium’s quality and group, and at least five seems likely. Watch and enjoy.


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Player of the Tournament

BJ Cunningham

Memphis Depay, Netherlands (+3500)

The Dutch attack is led by Memphis Depay, who has been lighting up Ligue 1 defenses for Lyon. This year, the 28-year-old bagged 21 goals, dished out 12 assists, and put up a 0.50 xG per 90 minute scoring rate. He scored or assisted on 17 of 35 goals, which is a staggering number and tells you that the Oranje’s offense goes through him.

The Dutch attack has been very impressive during both Euro and World Cup Qualifying, averaging 2.84 xG per match, which is the third-best mark coming into the tournament behind Spain and Italy. So, Depay being the main man in the third-best attack means he will likely have the best chance to win the Golden Ball if the Dutch makes a deep run.

The Dutch should be able to cruise through this group, with first place being a priority. If they win Group C, the Dutch would play a third-place team from Groups D, E, or F in the Round of 16 and then the second-place finisher from Group A or B, which would likely be Denmark, Turkey, or Switzerland.

Michael Leboff

John Stones, England (+50000)

OK, I admit this is a bit insane, but bear with me.

Over the past few seasons, centerbacks have earned a lot more respect from folks who vote for awards. In fact, two of the past three Premier League Player of the Year Winners have been central defenders (Virgil van Dijk, Ruben Dias).

While John Stones is not on the same level as those two, he did enjoy a  resurgent season with Man City in 2020/21 and I think he could benefit from the narrative that is surrounding England, the tournament’s second-favorite.

The big concern for England coming into the tournament is whether or not the Three Lions will be able to defend well enough. We all assume that England will score buckets as they are one of the deepest teams up front. That depth likely means that the goalscoring could be spread among the likes of Harry Kane, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling.

Should England make a deep run, the defense will get a ton of shine and I think that could lead to folks giving credit to the center-back pairing, and hopefully Stones (who I prefer to Harry Maguire since we don’t know if Maguire is fit) is the main benefactor of that love.

This bet is 500/1 for a reason, but should England make a deep run and the defense hold up, I think Stones has a chance to be in the conversation.

Jeremy Pond

Thiago Alcantara, Spain (+7000)

About a month ago, I was all-in on N’Golo Kante when his odds were north of +3000 at the majority of sportsbooks. However, the French playmaker’s numbers have plummeted (he is now the second choice at DraftKings) and I have no desire taking someone sitting at +2000 odds or less when there’s so much better value on the board via another dozen players or so.

That said, I’m going with a real flyer and backing Spain midfielder Thiago Alcântara as my top pick for this honor. And yes, the +7000 odds he carries with him into the competition has me dropping at the possibility of hitting this wager.

The Liverpool central midfielder will be the engine that makes La Furia Roja go, providing field vision and impressive skills when orchestrating the offense. Alcântara is the closest things Spain has seen since Xavi roamed the pitch, leading me to believe this could be a breakout tournament for the standout.

If you’re looking for another longshot angle, I will send you right back to Morata. The Spanish striker, who my colleague, BJ, loves for the Golden Boot, is currently at +5000 odds and should have a huge showing at this tournament as well. The Juventus star is coming off a brilliant campaign in Serie A, where he racked up 20 goals and 12 assists in 44 matches across all competitions.

Matthew Trebby

N’Golo Kante, France (+2200)

Before the Champions League final, you could find N’Golo Kante as high as +4000 at certain books. His performance in that Chelsea win wasn’t anything new. Kante did as he normally does, breaking up play and causing havoc for opposing midfields.

The French have a plethora of talent in attack and defense, but there is no replacing Kante. Adrien Rabiot and Corentin Tolisso are high-quality midfielders and would likely replace Kante in the France XI if the injury bug hits, but neither does the work of the defensive dynamo.

Normally, this award is reserved for the best attacker of the tournament on the winning team. Luka Modric took home the honor at the 2018 World Cup, though, because France had two equally impressive attackers in Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

Since then, Kante’s profile around the game has been enhanced. More people recognize his unique skillset and responsibilities, how crucial he is to freeing the impressive attacking talent that is usually around him.

Kante has never been more highly thought of than he is right now. If the French win, he will have stayed fit the entire tournament and everyone knows he will have been of the utmost importance.

Given that the media recognizes his skill and importance to the world’s best team, I find it peculiar that Kante behind both Mbappe and Griezmann on PointsBet, and it’s laughable that Bruno Fernandes has a lower number than him.

DraftKings has lowered his number all the way down to +1000, which is where it should be. Any number over +2000 is great value and is unlikely to improve once he starts playing.


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Giants vs. Nationals Odds, Picks, Predictions & Preview: Take San Fransisco as a Dog Against Scherzer

san francisco giants-vs-washington nationals-mlb-betting-odds-picks-predictions-preview-thursday-june 10-2021-brandon crawford

Editor’s Note: Thursday’s game between the Giants and Nationals has been postponed because of inclement weather. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.

Giants vs. Nationals Odds

Giants Odds +155
Nationals Odds -185
Over/Under 7.5 (-115 / -105)
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MASN
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via BetMGM.

The San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals begin a four-game series on Thursday night at Nationals Park.

The Giants boast a +74 run differential and brandish the best record in baseball at 38-23. Meanwhile, the Nationals (25-33) remain in fourth place in the NL East, which is the worst division in baseball. Washington also reports a -31 run differential, which is the fourth-worst in the National League.

Washington will have a two-time Cy Young Award-winner on the mound when Max Scherzer starts on Thursday night. Still, does that truly warrant the Nationals being -170 favorites in this spot?

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San Francisco Giants

With the exception of one disastrous start, Anthony DeSclafani (RHP) has been terrific for the Giants. DeSclafani has a 5-2 record with 3.51 ERA through 12 starts this season.

Furthermore, if you remove the 10-run blowup against the Dodgers on May 23, then DeSclafani reports a 5-1 record and 2.25 ERA over his 11 other starting appearances. That game against the Dodgers is the only instance in which he has allowed more than three runs as a starter.

DeSclafani may not blow you away with his strikeout rate (7.83 K/9). But his ground ball rate is 49.2% — the best mark of his career — and ranks 13th in MLB. His sinker has also been great, allowing a .167 batting average and .216 wOBA to opposing batters.

While the pitching staff is clearly the strength of San Francisco’s roster, don’t sleep on the Giants offense. San Francisco ranks seventh in runs per game, eighth in wOBA and fifth in wRC+ this season.

The Giants are like the “Back to the Future” of baseball teams. It is the year 2021, and somehow their three best hitters include:

  • 34-year old Brandon Crawford
  • 34-year old Buster Posey
  • 35-year old Evan Longoria

Unfortunately, Longoria, Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson are all currently on the injured list. Yet despite those injuries, the Giants continue to get it done, ranking fourth in the league in runs and OPS over the last week.

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Washington Nationals

Max Scherzer (RHP) takes the mound on Thursday evening, having regained his dominant form after a rather un-“Scherzer”-like season last year. He posted a 3.74 ERA in 2020, which was his first season with an ERA over 3.00 since 2014.

Through 12 starts this season, he is 5-4 with 2.22 ERA. If the season ended today, that ERA would be the best of his career — even lower than either of his two Cy Young Award seasons.

Even at 36-years old, “Mad Max” still possesses some of the best swing-and-miss stuff in the league. Scherzer has a 12.16 strikeout rate (K/9), and his 36.1 K% is tied for fourth in the league. Teams are batting just .193 against him this season, and he ranks in the top 10% of MLB in xwOBA and xERA. Scherzer throws a fastball, slider, changeup and cutter, each of which reports a batting average against below .200.

The Nationals have had the same issue for the entire season: They struggle to get base-runners to actually come across home plate. Washington ranks seventh in batting average and 11th in on-base percentage, yet it ranks 26th in the runs per game. Furthermore, the Nationals rank sixth in batting average (.240) with the bases empty, yet rank 23rd in batting average (.235) with runners in scoring position.

Despite Juan Soto’s surprising struggles, Trea Turner has been awesome for the Nats and has basically carried their offense at times. He leads the team in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBIs, stolen bases, and just about anything else you can think of.

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Giants vs. Nationals Pick

Every Monday, MLB.com releases its weekly power rankings. In this week’s edition, San Francisco came in at No. 5. Somehow the Giants were ranked behind the Padres and Dodgers — the two teams trailing the Giants in the NL West division. How is that possible?

The Giants were predicted to finish third in the division with a preseason win total of 75.5. Yet, we are 61 games into the season, and they are on pace for 100 wins. At this point, it is clear that San Francisco is simply better than people expected, but the team has not received the respect it deserves.

Obviously, the Nationals have the pitching advantage with Scherzer on the mound. But if you are going to give me the team with the best record in baseball at greater than +150 odds, I am going to take them. This season, the Giants are 20-14 (+9.42 units) as an underdog and 7-3 (+6.98 units) as a road underdog.

Scherzer’s numbers are excellent, but DeSclafani has been great as well — and the Giants are 8-4 in games he starts. San Francisco has an excellent bullpen and the better offense right now. I think there is value on the underdog here.

Pick: San Francisco Giants +155 (Play to +150 or better)

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2-Way Moneyline vs. 3-Way Moneyline in Soccer Betting: When Does the Draw Count for My Bet?

two way moneyline vs. three way moneyline-soccer-betting

If you’ve ever bet soccer and been confused when your bet didn’t cash as you expected, you’re not alone.

It’s one of the most common mistakes new soccer bettors make — not navigating the difference between a two-way moneyline and a three-way moneyline.

Most sports use two-way moneylines because draws are impossible (MLB) or unlikely (NFL). But in soccer, draws happen about a quarter of the time, so it’s offered as one of the three primary options.

Let’s take the 2021 Champions League final as an example.

Check out these links first if you’re unfamiliar with American odds or just want to learn more about betting on soccer.

Three-Way Moneyline

There are three possible outcomes of a soccer match after regulation — Team A wins, Team B wins, or it’s tied.

That’s why you see most soccer betting lines with those three options. It’s the default option at most sportsbooks.

In the Champions League Final, Chelsea had just a 24% chance to win in regulation, according to oddsmakers.

Result (After 90 mins) Odds Probability
Man City wins -106 49%
Chelsea wins +300 24%
Draw +250 27%

Because Chelsea did win in regulation, anyone who took the Blues at +300 on the three-way moneyline cashed. But had they needed extra time to win, the bet would have lost and anyone who bet the draw at +250 would have won their bets.

Two-Way Moneyline

Chelsea at +300 was a juicy price — but again, the only way to cash was for the Blues to win in regulation. A win in extra time, the bet loses.

With a two-way moneyline, you have a little bit more safety, but you’re not going to get as good a price.

There are two primary types of two-way moneylines.

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Draw No Bet

Draw No Bet is just what it sounds like. If you bet a team and it wins, your bet wins. If it’s a draw, your bet is refunded. If the team loses, your bet loses.

The cushion you get from the draw is baked into the price, of course. Man City was -275 on the Draw No Bet line, up from -106. Chelsea was +190, down from +300 on the three-way line.

The books are essentially just splitting the probability of a draw between the two teams, and adjusting the odds. Some books charge futures DraftKings is holding about 8% of this wager, while it holds about 4.8% on a standard NFL point spread.

Result Odds Probability
Man City wins -275 68%
Chelsea wins +190 32%

Double Chance

Double Chance means you’re betting on a specific team to win or draw, or either team to win. And again, it’s all baked into the odds.

There are three possible outcomes for Double Chances:

Result (After 90 mins) Odds Probability
Man City or Draw -230 69.7%
Chelsea or Draw -150 60%
Man City or Chelsea wins -200 66.7%

This gives you a much better chance to cash your bet, but you’re paying for it.

To Advance or to Lift the Trophy

In tournament situations, you can always bet a three-way moneyline or two-way moneyline where only the first 90 minutes of regulation time matter.

But there’s another two-outcome option that may resonate with American sports fans more — betting a team to advance or to lift the trophy (if it’s the title game).

In the Champions League final, Chelsea was +300 on the three-way line, but +165 to lift the trophy.

Getting the full, but also worse odds.

Result Odds Probability
Man City wins -205 64%
Chelsea wins +165 36%

NBA Playoffs Series Bets: Our Confidence Rankings for Each Round 2 Matchup

We’re about two games into each series of Round 2, which isn’t enough to tell us everything we need to know about every team, but just enough for us to start looking forward.

Two teams have jumped out and had outstanding performances so far, while others have been huge letdowns. As always, there are key injuries that muddy the waters as well. With all that in mind, we’ve decided to rank each team based on our confidence that they can make it out of the second round, along with bets that we like in the series.

We’ve tallied up the votes from our crew ballot style to determine which teams are inspiring the most confidence in our analysts as series begin to shift (spoiler alert: the two teams with blowout wins are at the top).

Take a look at our analysis below and favorite mid-series bets in Round 2.

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Austin Wang

Phoenix Suns

Congratulations to Nikola Jokic and his well-deserved MVP Award. I encourage the Denver Nuggets to cherish and celebrate this accomplishment because I anticipate their playoff exit soon.

The Nuggets have outperformed expectations without Jamal Murray, including beating the Portland Trail Blazers in Round 1. However, I believe most of that was attributed to the Blazers being a facade all along.

Now, with Paul looking closer to full strength, I am most confident about the Suns winning this series and getting a few extra days of rest while the Clippers and the Jazz duke it out.

Brooklyn Nets

Prior to the start of this series, I would not have argued with anyone who thought the Milwaukee Bucks were live underdogs.

My, how things have changed in a span of a week.

Now up 2-0, the Nets seem to be strolling their way to an easy second round victory. Would you prefer to back the Nets featuring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — both who have been on championship teams — or the Milwaukee Bucks, who have consistently shrunk in the playoff limelight year after year?

Even without James Harden, the Nets have proven to be the superior team, which is even scarier for the rest of the league. I am expecting the Nets’ stellar play to continue and take the series with my second-highest confidence rating.

Atlanta Hawks

This is a hot take, but I must stand by my original series prediction and pick the Hawks.

The series is now tied 1-1 and headed back to Atlanta, where the Hawks have gone 21-2 straight up since Feb. 21. They are incredible at home and did their job of stealing a game in Philadelphia, quite a feat in itself as the 76ers are an excellent home team. The 76ers, on the other hand, struggle on the road, as they’ve gone 21-17 straight up and 18-20 against the spread this season.

Game 2 was not a promising look for Hawks backers, but I think their fortunes will change at home. Matisse Thybulle and Ben Simmons both did an excellent job of slowing down Trae Young. The 76ers were able to get strong contributions from Seth Curry and Shake Milton, who caught fire in the second half.

Although he looked great in Game 2, Joel Embiid’s injury will forever be a concern. I like the Hawks’ depth to thrive and expect them to protect their homecourt en route to a series upset. At +190 (FanDuel), I am doubling down on the Hawks to win the series as my series best bet.

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Los Angeles Clippers

The Jazz-Clippers series falls to the bottom of my confidence rankings as I believe this is the most evenly rated matchup. Even after a grueling seven-game series against the Mavericks and a short turnaround, the Clippers went toe-to-toe with the Jazz in Game 1.

Kawhi Leonard is locked in and has been playing out of his mind, carrying the disappointing Paul George on his shoulders. Luke Kennard and Ivica Zubac both provided some valuable minutes off the bench in Game 1 and can be difference-makers in this series if they keep it up.

On the other side, Mike Conley’s absence for the Jazz is huge. While Donovan Mitchell had a herculean effort in Game 1 to lead the Jazz to the win, I don’t think it will be sustainable for the entire series. If Conley is out or is less than 100%, the Clippers will sneak back and take this series.


Brandon Anderson

Phoenix Suns

The Suns were my most confident pick coming into the second round by a wide margin, and nothing I’ve seen so far has convinced me otherwise. It sounds so simple to say it, but the Suns are just better than the Nuggets. They’re way, way better defensively.

They’re better on offense, at least better than this shorthanded version of the Nuggets. Poor Denver just got Will Barton back and now Michael Porter Jr.’s back has given out.

I’m still not convinced Phoenix is capital-G Great, but they’re definitely very good, and they’re not the Trail Blazers.

Good on Denver and its G-League guards for getting a playoff series win against a Portland team that should be embarrassed, but Phoenix was always going to be another animal, and the Suns have looked in control all the way thus far. An MVP can only do so much without any teammates.

Brooklyn Nets

I think this one is a wrap. We waited all year for this series, and I really thought it got ruined in the first play when James Harden went down injured, but apparently Brooklyn didn’t even need him against the Bucks. Milwaukee has looked absolutely lost, and I’m not convinced the Bucks even win a game at this point.

This team looks absolutely shell shocked and overrun. And it’s not even the defense that’s worrisome — it’s the putrid offense that is not moving the ball, or finding good shot against a very beatable defense.

Normally, this is a spot where I’d recommend caution, with the favorite going up 2-0 at home and everyone declaring the series over. In some ways, this reminds me of the 2012 Spurs who looked absolutely invincible and were up 2-0 on the Thunder but never won another game that year once Oklahoma City figured them out.

The difference this time? I am not seeing any adjustment, and Mike Budenholzer isn’t figuring anything out on Milwaukee’s sidelines other than how to shape his resume up.

This thing is a wrap. Maybe the Bucks get one last home win, but I think the Nets win at least one of these two and then finish things off in Game 5 if necessary. I like the value on Nets -2.5 (-115 at BetMGM) in this series.

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Utah Jazz

I picked the Jazz to beat the Clippers in seven games before the playoffs and increased my confidence heading into the second round, picking Utah in six. Now that the Jazz have a game in hand, you’d think my confidence would be even higher, but I’m actually feeling worse about things after Game 1.

The Jazz looked like they were in trouble for a half yesterday, but then Donovan Mitchell picked the Clippers apart and the Jazz got a massive energy boost, both from the crowd and from that huge rest advantage, with the defense ramping up and shutting the Clippers down as Mitchell did the rest.

There are clearly a whole bunch of matchups that tilt LA’s direction in this series, and my big concern right now is Mike Conley’s health. Utah’s offense looked lost until Mitchell took over, and the Jazz badly need Conley’s passing, creation, shooting, and leadership.

My specific prediction for this series coming in was that the Clippers would outscore the Jazz for the series but lose in six — meaning L.A. would get two huge wins but lose some close ones.

We’re off to a good start. A tired Clips team has to win four of six, with half those games on the road against the best home team and all of those six against a very good offensive and defensive team that’s not going to miss 20 shots in a row again.

If we could start a series fresh tomorrow, I might talk myself into the Clippers now. With a win in hand, I’ll still favor the Jazz, but I’m less confident after Game 1.

Philadelphia Sixers

I picked the Hawks before the series, but I’m begrudgingly changing my pick to Philadelphia.

This is all about Joel Embiid. It’s pretty clear the Sixers are the better team with Embiid out there. If he keeps playing his usual minutes, the Sixers should win the series.

Still, I don’t think it’s a knockout punch even with Embiid. The Hawks have gotten some really nice looks on offense so far, and Trae Young is a problem for Philly’s defense. Atlanta can still win a game or two even against Embiid, and I’m still not totally convinced Embiid is just good to go.

With Embiid playing and DeAndre Hunter out for the season, I have to pick the Sixers now. But if Embiid goes out, I think Atlanta is the better team, and given what we’ve seen so far, I don’t think that’s a hot take.

I’m not counting Atlanta out and might look to nibble at the series price on the Hawks if they fall down 1-2 to another big Embiid game, but the Sixers are the favorites now.


Kenny Ducey

Brooklyn Nets

There’s nothing left to say about the Nets that hasn’t already been said in this piece. They struggled to defend all season long, and have been absolutely cooked on the glass game in and game out. Their top guys played just eight games together. Yet in the playoffs, none of that has mattered in the slightest.

The Nets — even without James Harden — have gone out and dominated on both ends of the floor. The Nets have a 97 Defensive Rating in this series, and while some of that is due to incompetence from the Bucks on the offensive side of things, you still have to credit these guys for giving a ton of effort on defense.

It appears nothing is going to stop this team all postseason long except for themselves.

We saw the Brooklyn let its foot off the gas in Round 1, and while that may very well happen a few more times this postseason, the Nets showed that they can simply flip a switch and run anyone off the floor.

I thought entering the playoffs that either the Bucks or Sixers would eliminate the Nets, but now I think no one has a shot at taking four games from Brooklyn.

Los Angeles Clippers

There’s admittedly a lot of stubbornness here, ranking the Clippers — a team down 1-0 — over the Suns who are likely going to sweep based on how they are playing. With that said, I’m not worried one bit about the Clippers.

Sure, Paul George looked like Pandemic P again on Tuesday. Sure, the Jazz shot the lights out just as they have all season long. In the end, L.A. has Kawhi Leonard, and having the best player in the series is going to be enough for the Clippers.

In addition to extending his insane record when facing elimination (he’s 9-2 lifetime), Ty Lue has proven himself to be a great coach this postseason, pushing all the right buttons.

The role players on this team have been tremendous this postseason, from Nic Batum to Luke Kennard — two brilliant off-season acquisitions. Reggie Jackson has also transformed himself into an extremely reliable player after being a walking Jordan Clarkson in Detroit.

Speaking of Clarkson, he had a fantastic Game 1, but on the whole hasn’t been as great as he was when Donovan Mitchell went down to an injury. He, along with the rest of the Jazz second unit, have simply been underwhelming, and Utah’s performance on defense against the Grizzlies was incredibly forgettable.

The Clippers are more disciplined, and have more players who have been here before. I’m also just that confident in Leonard — he’s reminded us this postseason just how special he is after he took almost the entire season off. I like the Clippers to win the series outright with the best odds at PointsBet (+180).

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Phoenix Suns

I don’t know why, but I’m still a little scared about Phoenix. In a total juxtaposition to the Eastern Conference, I don’t put much stock into the Suns beating a discombobulated Lakers team with a less-than-100% LeBron James and an injured Anthony Davis.

Further, are we really shocked they are smoking the Nuggets, who needed the helping hands of one of the worst defenses in the NBA to win their opening series, and who don’t have starting point guard?

We saw during the regular season how quickly things can go wrong for the Suns, who begun quickening in Pace and Defensive Rating, two areas which defined who they were. It’s also apparent that this team thrives off of timely shot-making from rather unreliable players.

Jae Crowder is just a few misses away from falling into a shooting slump, and Cameron Payne is pretty much back to being Cam Payne after having a moment a couple of weeks ago.

The Suns have something that their opponents don’t have right now, and that is an above-average defense. That’s what will get them across the finish line and into the Western Conference Finals, but I’m not quite sure they are built to go further than that.

Philadelphia 76ers

Nate McMillan really tries hard to make these series interesting, doesn’t he? The Hawks coach has kept Trae Young on the sidelines an impossibly long time this postseason.

Perhaps he wants some good company, or perhaps he wants to help the NBA drive up their ratings. I’ll tell you what, though, this Hawks team is just a couple of tweaks away from being much, much better than the Sixers.

Philly’s defense has yet to impress me in this series, and I am deeply concerned given how hot the Hawks can get on offense. Atlanta had it for half of Game 1, and another outburst is right around the corner. Further, we have seen that this Hawks team is Embiid-proof, meaning it can win in spite of a dominant performance from Philly’s best player.

Without being to simply hit the Embiid button to get out of trouble, I’m not super confident the Sixers can just breeze through this series.

I watched first-hand as the Hawks dismantled one of the league’s top defenses in New York, and there are no signs pointing to Philadelphia being immune to that same fate on the defensive end.

If anything, the fact that it’s turned the ball over so much has indicated that maybe Atlanta’s defense is trustworthy.


Roberto Arguello

Phoenix Suns

The Suns are simply better than the Nuggets without Jamal Murray.

Deandre Ayton is one of the tougher matchups for Nikola Jokic, Will Barton and Michael Porter Jr. are playing at less than 100%, and the Nuggets can’t stop the Suns from generating open 3-pointers.

I think the Suns win in five, and among futures bets, my best bet is the Suns to win the West at +220 on FanDuel. Their 3-point shooting and defensive switching makes them a tough matchup for the Jazz (whom the Suns swept in the regular season).

Brooklyn Nets

I originally thought this series was a toss up, but the Nets have established themselves as the superior team despite the James Harden injury. The Bucks have lost their offensive identity through two games as they have settled for too many jump shots with inadequate ball movement.

The Nets have the better isolation players, are shooting better, and are moving the ball better. This series has been the biggest disappointment of the postseason for me, and I like the Nets in five, but I give the Bucks a better chance at pushing the series to six than the Nuggets.

Philadelphia 76ers

After putting Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle on Trae Young, the series has shifted. If the 76ers can continue to keep Young out of the lane with these two, the 76ers will win the series.

However, the Hawks have the better shooters, and if Tobias Harris doesn’t play well, the Hawks could still pull the upset despite a huge series from Joel Embiid. I like the 76ers in six, but Embiid’s knee injury makes me hesitant to lay -230 on them.

Utah Jazz

The Jazz stole the first game from the Clippers despite falling behind early in the first half without Mike Conley. While I lean toward the Jazz to win the series in seven, Conley’s health will determine the value in betting this series as he plays a key role in generating quality shots for others.

Donovan Mitchell dominated Game 1, but the Clippers’ first round series win over the Mavericks should remind us that Kawhi Leonard is still the best player in this series.

Conley is questionable to play in Thursday’s Game 2, and I like the Clippers at +176 on FanDuel as the best value among any of the second round series prices as I think they steal that game and the series price swings back to near even money.

However, my best value bet available is over 5.5 games in this series at -152 on DraftKings as I believe this series is evenly matched and both teams can win but only in six games or more.

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Phillip Kall

Brooklyn Nets

After the Bucks’ performance against Miami, I thought we were getting a matchup of the two best teams in the NBA. Boy did the Nets make me look like a fool. Even without Harden for all but one minute of the first two games the Nets have been in complete control.

The obvious knocks on Brooklyn were chemistry, rookie coaching, and defense coming into the playoffs. They have shown that all of those are nothing to worry about simply because their players are just better. This series has been about who can beat their man one-on-one.

Durant and Kyrie have shown it doesn’t matter who is on them while the Bucks have shown no ability to create against anyone. Adding in another MVP caliber player when Harden comes back and it’s hard to imagine anyone stopping this team.

Phoenix Suns

The Nuggets problem coming into the playoffs was always going to be filling Jamal Murray’s void. The biggest void showing right now is his contributions defensively.

In Round 1, despite the victory, Damian Lillard looked phenomenal cooking whomever guarded him. In Round 2, Chris Paul is doing the same. Paul is getting to his spots on the floor and either getting a bucket, or dropping a perfect dime to his teammates.

The major difference between Paul and Dame is his teammates are hitting their open opportunities. Similar to the Nets and Bucks series, this one looks like one team has more talent than the other.

Philadelphia 76ers

Now, we are at the teams where I am just in like with instead of love. Game 1’s massive deficit to start had me worrying about my pick of the Sixers to win the series if Embiid played. However, despite a loss their second half performance revitalized my hope.

Following up that second-half with their strong Game 2 and I am back to confident they can control this series. The obvious difference maker is Joel Embiid. Had he been healthy he may have taken home the MVP. He is beating opponents inside, outside, and even off the dribble.

Their success hinges on whether he can play or not and that is the only issue that gives me any doubts. Games 1 and 2 clearly show his small meniscus tear doesn’t bother him but with size and athletic ability I worry one wrong move and things could get ugly.

The confidence I have in a fully healthy Sixers team would be closer to the Suns and Nets. However, since that is not promised they take a small hit and end at third.

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Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are one team that on their best nights could have the best players on the floor. However, they also have nights where they just disappear. I like them in this series because Kawhi Leonard and Paul George pulled their disappearing act in Game 1 but things didn’t go terribly.

Despite being in Utah (one of the most hostile environments), with no rest, and their stars not showing up, the Clippers only lost by three.

This will likely be another long series but when all the chips are on the table I expect Kawhi to again show he is the best player on the floor and lead the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals.


Raheem Palmer

Phoenix Suns

I’ve said it before but the Denver Nuggets are all but done.

Although Barton returned to the lineup in Game 2, at some point there’s only so much impact one player can have and I believe we’ve reached that point. Michael Porter Jr is dealing with lower back tightness and should he not be 100%, that’s one fewer threat this already depleted Nuggets team.

Aside from eliminating the Lakers in Round 1, the Suns ranked sixth in both Offensive Rating (117.7) and Defensive Rating (111.5) and truly has everything you want from a Championship contender. Unlike the Blazers, this Suns team actually has an NBA caliber defense and wings who are still worthy of getting NBA playoff minutes.

The Suns are one of the best teams in the league and Chis Paul’s leadership should allow them to advance to the Western Conference Finals in what ultimately could be a sweep or a gentleman’s sweep.

Brooklyn Nets

I was dead wrong about this series, but I can quickly acknowledge I made a mistake. This was supposed to be the de-facto NBA Finals.

Just one minute into the series the Nets lost the team’s best playmaker in James Harden and they didn’t skip a beat.

To quote the late Notorious BIG, this series is simply “separating the weak from the obsolete, it’s hard to creep them Brooklyn Streets”.

That’s no exaggeration either as the Nets are just that much better than the Bucks, outscoring the Bucks by a whopping 47 points through the first two games of this series.

The final score of Game 1 was actually misleading considering they led by 19 points before the Bucks bench made a run in garbage time. Kevin Durant is averaging 30.5 points 7 rebounds and 4.5 assists on 55.8% shooting and 50% from 3-point range.

The combination of Durant and Kyrie Irving is hard enough to stop on its own, but it’s clear there’s a major discrepancy in the bench units between these two teams as the Nets are deeper.

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The Bucks have a limited superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP who has historically struggled in the postseason where teams can create a wall to stop him from getting to the basket. Without a reliable jump shot, the Bucks are struggling to score one-on-one against Brooklyn’s switching defense.

The Bucks have just a 97.8 Offensive Rating through two games and while I expect them to eventually shoot the ball better at home, Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Holiday simply aren’t going to keep up with the offensive firepower on the Nets.

Durant, Irving and role players who can space the floor and hit 3-point shots is just too much for a Bucks team that gives up the fifth-highest frequency of opponent 3-point attempts (38.9%) while ranking 29th in opponent 3-point percentage (39.3%).

I had high hopes for this series, but the Bucks look finished even if their 3s start falling at home.

Philadelphia 76ers

The Atlanta Hawks caught the Philadelphia 76ers slipping in Game 1 but since the first half of Game 1, the Hawks haven’t been the same team. They had an Offensive Rating of 137 in the first half Game 1 but since then it’s been all downhill.

The 76ers stopped turning the ball over, increased their defensive intensity and changed up their pick and roll coverages on Trae Young. The Hawks had an Offensive Rating of 100 in the second half of Game 1 and a total Net Rating of -32.1. They were competitive during parts of Game 2, but they still scored just 104.1 points per 100 possessions for the game with a -17.6 Offensive Rating.

The Hawks have no answers for Joel Embiid as he’s averaging 39.5 points, 11 rebounds and three assists while getting to the line 31 times.

If that’s not bad enough, the Hawks lost De’Andre Hunter for the rest of the NBA Playoffs with a small tear of his lateral meniscus in right knee. That means they also have no answer for Tobias Harris. The Hawks had a spark when they started, but the 76ers should wrap this series up in six games or less.

Los Angeles Clippers

This is the series I’m least confident in because I believe this is a true pick’em series. We have two teams whose offense depends mostly on three point shooting so there will be a ton of variance in this series.

In addition, these are two teams with contrasting styles as the Clippers play small with their wings, electing to take Ivica Zubac off the floor in order to put opposing centers in space.

The Jazz on the other hand have the Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert protecting the paint and he’s a threat on lobs, rim runs and put-backs. Will the Clippers neutralize Gobert’s strengths in the same way that the James Harden led Rockets- did? Or will Gobert and the Jazz dominate the paint on both sides of the ball with their physicality?

Both are possible but what this matchup comes down to for me is that the Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the Jazz simply have no answer for them at the wings. Royce O’Neale and Bojan Bogdanovic are solid players but the Clippers combination of wings in Leonard, George, Morris and Batum should eventually cause problems on both sides of the ball.

Donovan Mitchell could completely destroy my prediction given his 45-point performance in Game 1 but I think the Clippers will likely do a much better job at defending him throughout the series. Head coach Tyronn Lue won’t allow Luke Kennard get abused over and over again as he did in Game 1. He found answers for what players to play on the floor with Luka Doncic and I believe he’ll find the answers in this matchup.

The health of Mike Conley appears to be a wildcard and his ability to make plays and score can possibly swing the series. Still, it’s hard to trust him recovering from a hamstring injury and playing up to his standard given how fickle hamstring injuries can be. Harden played just one minute before having to leave Game 1 of Brooklyn’s first round series against the Bucks. Nonetheless, Conley’s injury could plague him the entire series.

The Clippers let Game 1 slip but I believe a lot of that had to do with them coming off a grueling seven game series against the Mavericks. The narrative around this series is completely difficult had the Clippers held on and despite blowing a 14 point lead and finding themselves down double digits in Game 1, they still managed to come within one possession of tying the game.

Overall, I think the Clippers are the better team but I’ll have to figure out how to neutralize Gobert, which they’ve done during parts of Game 1

NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for Clippers vs. Jazz Game 2: Can Kawhi, LA Tie Series? (Thursday, June 10)

los angeles lakers vs utah jazz-nba-odds-bets-picks-game-2-june-10

Clippers vs. Jazz Game 2 Odds

Clippers Odds +3
Jazz Odds -3
Moneyline -150 / +130
Over/Under 221.5
Time 10 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings.

Through the first 24 minutes of Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Los Angeles Clippers appeared to be well on the their way to stealing home-court advantage from the No. 1 seed Utah Jazz. With a 13-point lead going into the half after Nic Batum hit a three over Jazz center Rudy Gobert, it was tough to see the Jazz recovering from their rocky start.

As I’ve written about previously, there’s a price to pay coming off a seven-game series, particularly when the other team has a significant rest advantage. You can blame tired legs and the hangover effect from Game 7 or give credit to point guard Donovan Mitchell’s sensational second-half performance.

Nevertheless, it took the Jazz just one quarter to completely erase the Clippers’ double-digit halftime lead, and Utah took control of the game in the fourth quarter where it capped a 21-9 run to take a 103-93 lead with 5:22 left in regulation before eventually winning 112-109.

Now the Jazz hold a 1-0 series lead that the Clippers hope to tie. Not much has changed the power rating between these two teams as oddsmakers have installed the hometown Jazz as three-point favorites with a total of 221.5.

Let’s analyze both teams and figure out where the betting value lies for this one!

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Clippers Fell Apart In Second Half

The Los Angeles Clippers don’t make anything easy on themselves. Despite the absence of Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley and the Jazz opening the game shooting just 17.9% on 5-of-28 shooting, the Clippers still failed to capitalize by stealing home court in Game 1.

At one point the Jazz missed 20 consecutive field goals while the Clippers put together a 22-2 run. While the Clippers held a 14-point lead and went into halftime up 60-47, that type of shooting performance from an opponent should be a death sentence against some of the league’s elite teams.

Along with Utah’s shooting struggles, the Clippers got off to a great start behind a hot shooting performance in which they shot 11-of-23 (47.8%) behind the arc. Kawhi Leonard struggled to stay on the court in the first half as he racked up three personal fouls, and in many ways it was the theme for the game as the Clippers struggled to defend without fouling.

Nonetheless, this was a game in which head coach Tyron Lue effectively managed his rotations properly in the first half, playing 10 guys coming off a grueling seven-game series. The Clippers role players certainly stepped up as Paul George struggled on just 1-of-7 shooting in the first half. Marcus Morris made three out of his first four field goals, Luke Kennard scored 11 points on 4-of-5 (80%) shooting, Reggie Jackson and Ivica Zubac each scored nine and eight points, respectively, and even DeMarcus Cousins chipped in 6 points.

After Nic Batum hit a three pointer at the end of the first half with Jazz center Rudy Gobert failing to recover in space, it felt like the Clippers had an advantage going small against the big Jazz lineup. Drawing Gobert out of the paint and making him play in space is the best advantage the Clippers have in this series, and it’s something I expect to cause problems for the Jazz throughout the series.

The Clippers are the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the league, shooting 41.8% this season, so on nights when the Clippers are hitting their open jumpers, the Jazz will struggle to stop this team. You have to think that the Clippers are hoping that they can making Gobert a liability in the same way that the James Harden-led Houston Rockets were able to do in their previous series against the Jazz in years past.

Unfortunately, there’s a flip side to that, as the Clippers were dominated on the boards allowing 12 offensive rebounds, surrendering 36 points in the paint. It will be interesting to see if we see more minutes for Zubac and Cousins to deal with the size and physicality of this Jazz team or if the Clippers let the chips fall where they fall, playing their brand of basketball.

With a 13-point halftime lead with Leonard in foul trouble and George struggling, the stage was set for the Clippers to steal Game 1. Unfortunately that didn’t go their way as heavy legs from a grueling seven-game series eventually caught up to them. The threes that fell in the first half stopped falling, as they went just 5-of-19 (26.3%) from behind the arc.

For as much as I praised Lue on playing 10 players in the first half to keep his players fresh, he struggled in the second half to play optimal lineups. Kennard’s first-half performance might have tricked Lue into playing him more than he normally would, and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell took full advantage. Terance Mann didn’t play any second half minutes

Although Leonard tried to will the team to victory and showed up big, scoring 16 second-half points on 7-of-13 (53.8%) shooting, George continues to not hold up his end of the bargain. George’s struggles continued throughout the game as he finished with 20 points on just 4-of-17 (23.5%) shooting. It marked the 10th time in which George shot 25% or less from the field, moving him into rare company. Outside of Russell Westbrook, most of these players exist from an era before color TV, so that should tell you how rare it is to be this shoot this poorly in the modern era.

Overall, the Clippers aren’t a team that will wow you with their game plans and schemes. They need big nights from both Leonard and George in order to win, along with three-point shooting variance. I think they’ll get them eventually, but if they don’t, they could find themselves down 0-2 with this series headed back to Los Angeles, where outside of Game 7, this team hasn’t proven they have the biggest home-court advantage.

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What More Can Mitchell Do For Jazz?

The Utah Jazz had an abysmal start to Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Without point guard Mike Conley, the Jazz were missing another scorer and playmaker who could create easy looks for the offense. The Jazz subsequently opened the game shooting just 17.9% on 5-of-28 shooting, while also missing 20 consecutive field goals.

Finding themselves in a double-digit deficit in the first half, All-Star point guard Donovan Mitchell refused to lose and willed this team to victory in ways we’ve seen from some of the greatest players to ever lace them up. Through his first 27 playoff games, Mitchell is averaging 27.5 points per game which puts him in elite territory, as this is only eclipsed by LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant.

All things considered, Mitchell made it look easy, scoring 45 points on 16-of-30 (53.3%) shooting, including 32 points on 11-of-16 (68.8%) shooting in the second half. His playmaking was also huge for this team without Conley as he also dished out five assists. Down 13 at the half, Mitchell went on a 10-2 run to open the third quarter, and he relentlessly attacked both Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard getting to the paint at will.

Mitchell capitalized on the Clippers’ lack of rim protection. Mitchell was 7-of-11 in the paint while also getting to the line eight times. Going forward, I think we’ll see more of the younger and athletic Terance Mann defending Mitchell, as Kennard had absolutely no shot.

Rudy Gobert’s ability to play in space has been a major source of contention in this series given his struggles guarding shooters against the Clippers in the past, as well as how the Rockets exploited him in his previous playoff history. Gobert didn’t make much of an impact on the offensive end, but he made the biggest play of the night, a game-sealing block on Marcus Morris’  would-be, game-tying three-point attempt.

How Gobert performs in this series will play a major role in this series. Can he continue to defend this Clippers’ small ball unit while capitalizing on offense?

The Jazz stole a victory in a game without Conley in which they started slow, struggling to shoot from the field. However, if the Jazz start slow in Game 2 it could come back to bite them against the Clippers team that has been in Utah for a few days and has had time to get acclimated to the the altitude. The Clippers likely won’t run out of gas in this one, but can Mitchell replicate his Game 1 performance? It remains to be seen.

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Clippers-Jazz Pick

Although I played the Jazz in Game 1, they are fortunate to be up 1-0 right now. It took 45 points from Donovan Mitchell, foul trouble from Kawhi Leonard and Reggie Jackson and a struggling performance from Paul George to just to win by three.

Many people can flip that around and say that the Jazz won’t miss 20 consecutive shots again, but I think over the course of the game that these are two equally matched teams — one just ran out of gas after a grueling seven-game series.

With a few adjustments by their defense on Mitchell and a better game from George and the role players in the second half, the Clippers should find themselves back in this series. The Jazz still don’t have any answers for George and Leonard on the wings, so I’ll back the Clippers to tie this series up. Take the Clippers +3.

Pick: Los Angeles Clippers +3 (-110)

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BetMGM Is Live in Washington DC: Betting Rules, Promo Codes, More

Washingtonians, get ready. BetMGM Sportsbook is live in the nation’s capital!

One of the more recognized names in the industry, BetMGM is already live in neighboring Virginia, but as of Thursday, the premier sportsbook is now also available to bettors in Washington DC.

Below you’ll find all the information you need to know regarding the launch, most specifically the specific betting rules in the District and, of course, the promos available to new users (i.e. how to get some free money!).

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Note: You must be within a two-block radius of Nationals Park to claim this promo offer.


Washington DC Sports Betting Rules

Washington DC legalized sports betting back in May 2020, but with some very important distinctions from what’s seen in other states.

Most notably is the two-block-radius rule, which allows venues operating as sportsbooks to provide an online platform to users only within two blocks of the venue (you can, however, register for an account from anywhere in the district).

For BetMGM, that venue is Nationals Park.

That means Nats fans attending a game, or in the area, have access to a very generous welcome offer …

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NBA Playoff Betting Trends: Favorites Are Dominating the Postseason

There’s a cliche in the NBA about the best teams usually winning in the Playoffs, which is both obvious and true.

Betting chalk might not be the most exciting way to approach the game, but so far in the in the NBA Playoffs, it has been a winning strategy. During the postseason, favorites have been cleaning up and profiting bettors more winnings than we’ve seen in recent memory.

Entering Thursdays games, favorites are 35-15 (70%) straight up and 33-17 (66%) against the spread since the start of the playoffs with a 28.9% ROI. A $100 bettor would be up $1,445, according to data from Bet Labs over this span.

Since we’re just seven games into the second round, much of this trend is due to the dominance we saw from teams in Round 1. Favorites were 28-15 in the first round, the second-most profitable opening round since the 2004-05 playoffs.

If this trend holds through the second round of the playoffs, it would be the most profitable postseason for favorites through two rounds.

This trend has held true whether teams are at home or on the road: Home favorites are 23-14 ATS this postseason and road favorites 10-3 ATS. That’s even impressive considering home teams are just 26-24 whether favored or not.

Digging a bit deeper, the Phoenix Suns (4-0 as favorites), Utah Jazz (5-1), Brooklyn Nets (5-1) and Atlanta Hawks (2-0) have been the most profitable teams as favorites throughout the playoffs.

Those five teams have combined to cover the spread by an average of 5.5 points per game.

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Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson Odds, Pick & UFC 263 Prediction: Can Rising Star Stop Veteran In Intriguing Undercard? (Saturday, June 12)

chase hooper vs. steven peterson-ufc 263-june 12-2021

Chase Hooper vs. Steven Peterson Odds

Hooper Odds +100
Peterson Odds -120
Over/Under 2.5 (-120 / -120)
Venue Gila River Arena
Time TBD
Channel ESPN
Odds as of Thursday and via William Hill.

UFC 263 is a loaded card featuring 14 fights, three of which are five-round fights and there will be two titles on the line. Our best bet on the undercard is on the early prelims which features five fights on ESPN starting at 6 p.m. ET.

Chase Hooper — a charismatic Ben Askren lookalike who gets a lot of social media attention — returns to the Octagon on Saturday. He will match up with UFC veteran Steven Peterson.

Hooper has a 10-1 record and has had a bit of a rough go in the Octagon. He has struggled in the striking department but showed excellent submission attacks in the past. That’s a place Peterson will want to avoid.

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Tale of the Tape

Hooper Peterson
Record 10-1-1 18-9-0
Avg. Fight Time 11:54 13:35
Height 6’1″ 5’10”
Weight (pounds) 145 lbs. 145 lbs.
Reach (inches) 74″ 70″
Stance Southpaw Orthodox
Date of birth 9/13/99 5/29/90
Sig Strikes Per Min 4.43 4.65
SS Accuracy 45% 35%
SS Absorbed Per Min 3.95 5.89
SS Defense 38% 56%
Take Down Avg 0.32 2.02
TD Acc 7% 28%
TD Def 66% 75%
Submission Avg 2.2 0.4

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This fight should be fascinating inside a loaded crowd in Glendale, Ari. Hooper is just 21-years-old and has been in the spotlight for most of his career.

Hooper’s striking is the major question coming into this fight. He has been beaten up on the feet in his last two fights. Hooper was probably on his way to a decision loss against Peter Barrett before he landed a late third-round submission via heel hook.

This is a very similar fight for Hooper and the common thought would be that he does not get lucky with a late submission again. However, Hooper was forced to address his striking woes and I am expecting improvement in that department. Per his Instagram, Hooper has been training with one of the best strikers in the UFC, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

His opponent, Peterson, is 2-4 in the UFC and is not the best striker himself.  Peterson absorbs more shots than he lands (5.89 strikes absorbed vs. 4.65 landed).

Furthermore, Peterson consistently shoots for takedowns which plays into Hooper’s hands with his excellent ground game.  Peterson usually shoots for multiple takedowns — resulting in a lowly 28% takedown rate per UFCstats.com.

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Hooper vs. Peterson Pick

Hooper loves to fight on the ground, so it is unlikely that Peterson will want to fight there. Hooper is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and Peterson already has issues controlling his opponents on the ground. 

If this fight goes to the ground, I believe Hooper has a significant advantage. The striking is the biggest question in this fight, but I would expect Hooper to at least have different wrinkles to show his opponent.

Thompson was an excellent choice to improve his striking as they have very similar body types. Hooper is 6-foot-1 while Peterson is 5-foot-10. Hooper will also have a four-inch reach advantage.

Peterson has not looked great in his UFC career and Hooper should be improving rapidly at just 21-years-old. Hooper opened as a +155 underdog in this fight and this has since depleted down to a near pick em’.

Money coming in on Hooper is important to recognize as we do not want to take a bad line on this fight. I wouldn’t be in too heavily on any method of victory props either — Hooper has had just three of his 11 fights go to a decision with three KOs and five submissions.

I think the best value for Hooper is on his moneyline which I would bet down to -110. Hooper is currently +100 on William Hill which is the best line on the market.

The Pick: Chase Hooper +100, Bet To -110

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Thursday MLB Player Props: 2 Strikeout Totals for Max Scherzer & Zack Greinke (June 10)

mlb-player props-strikeout totals-bets-max scherzer-zack greinke-thursday-june 10-2021

With a 10-game slate and five evening games, there are many props to choose from on Thursday’s Major League Baseball card. Unfortunately, the betting markets are more efficiently setting strikeout prop totals. Despite this, there are two strikeout props that I like, including an over and an under play.

For this article I will be evaluating my favorite MLB player props based on what my model likes and what the Action Labs Player Prop tool likes. The Action Labs Player Prop tool grades each bet on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade. I will be adding my own personal grades as well.

Below, I have laid out two prop bets that I am playing, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.


2021 MLB Pitcher Prop Record: 45-39, +1.1 Units, +1.3% ROI


 

MLB Player Props & Picks

Max Scherzer (WAS) — 8.5 Strikeouts (-121/-106)

Giants at Nationals Nationals (-177)
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
Best Book DraftKings

Max Scherzer is one of the best pitchers in baseball even at the age of 36. He pitches deep into games, allows minimal runs and has a high strikeout rate. That is why he unsurprisingly has a high strikeout total for tonight’s game against the San Francisco Giants.

All season I have been fading Scherzer’s highly inflated strikeout totals. The question is if I am setting my money on fire by betting against one of the best pitchers in the league?

The median MLB lineup has 8.86 strikeouts per game and San Francisco’s lineup averages 8.86 strikeouts per game. With the Giants not being more disciplined nor strikeout prone than most teams, whether Scherzer goes over his total depends solely on Scherzer.

Currently, Scherzer averages more than 6 1/3 innings per start, which is much higher than the typical MLB starter this season. He has a strikeout rate of 12.16 per nine innings. On a typical night, Scherzer has 8.65 strikeouts.

Scherzer’s strikeout rate should remain the same as he has consistently had the same strikeout rate for the last seven years. However, I am skeptical that the Nationals will continue to rely on him for more than six innings per start. Last year, Scherzer averaged fewer than 5 2/3 innings per start. I believe that the Nats will rely on Scherzer for six innings or fewer today and that is why he should go under his strikeout total of 8.5 strikeouts.

Pick: Max Scherzer (WAS) Under 8.5 Strikeouts (-106) (DraftKings) would play up to -115

  • Action Labs Score: 6
  • Kevin Davis Score: 3

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Zach Greinke (HOU) — 4.5 Strikeouts (+110/-145)

Astros at Red Sox Astros -115
Time 7:10 p.m. ET
Best Book BetMGM

Last Friday, I bet on Zach Greinke to have over 4.5 strikeouts based on the rationale that he should pitch enough innings to hit at least five strikeouts. Greinke did pitch deep in the game. In fact, he pitched the entire game: A complete game with just one earned run allowed.

He only struck out three. Let’s try this again, though.

When betting on pitcher strikeout props, there are three factors you must consider, the pitcher’s strikeout rate, how long they are expected to pitch, and the opposing lineup. Even though Greinke is not striking out as many batters, you cannot automatically bet his strikeout total unders because he is also averaging more than 6 1/3 innings per start.

There are two questions for Thursday’s start: Will Greinke revert to his old strikeout rate and/or will he continue to pitch for more than six innings per start?

In a typical start this season, Greinke goes about 6 1/3 innings and has 4.61 strikeouts. While Boston has a good lineup this year, it is close to the median MLB team in strikeouts per game: 8.53 strikeouts per game, or 3.7% fewer than the median. Once you adjust Greinke’s strikeout total for the Red Sox lineup, he should have 4.45 strikeouts.

Theoretically, Greinke’s strikeout total of 4.5 strikeouts is efficiently set if I am projecting 4.45 strikeouts. However, BetMGM is offering over 4.5 strikeouts at +110 money, which makes it a good bet. Additionally, if Greinke reverts to his 2020 strikeout rate of nine strikeouts per nine innings, he should have about 6.3 strikeouts today. That is why I am continuing to tail Greinke on strikeout props despite last week’s disappointment.

Pick: Zach Greinke Over 4.5 Strikeouts +110 (BetMGM) would play up to +100

  • Action Labs Score: 9
  • Kevin Davis Score: 5
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NHL Picks, Preview, Prediction for Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Game 6 : Vegas Favored to End Colorado’s Season (June 10)

colorado avalanche vs vegas golden knights-nhl-odds-bets-picks-game-6-june-10

Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Game 6 Odds


Avalanche Odds +115
Golden Knights Odds -135
Over/Under 5.5
Time | TV Thursday, 9 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via PointsBet.

“Uh oh.”

Depending on how stubborn you are as a Colorado Avalanche backer or fan, you’ve uttered this phrase at some point during the series. Even the most ardent believer had to have finally given in on Tuesday night when Mark Stone was rolling towards the Avs net with a step on a pair of chasing Colorado defenseman, firing the overtime winner over the shoulder of the Avs’ goaltender, Phillipp Grubauer.

Sometime from when Stone was sprung to when he sniped it, the last holdouts finally uttered the defeated two-word phrase:

“Uh oh.”

As we look towards Game 6, we’ll investigate the various points where a more discerning viewer may have made this lamentation and how those moments are telling when it comes to how we found ourselves with everyone’s Stanley Cup favourite on the brink of second-round elimination.

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Early Games Were Deceiving For Avalanche

Colorado routed Vegas in Game 1, but the score was deceiving. The underlying metrics pointed to a far more evenly played game than the 7-1 score indicated. The Avalanche had the slightest of edges in Expected Goals 5v5 at 1.27-1.25, and the even-strength High-Danger Chances were a 5-5 draw. How could this be? Well, Robin Lehner’s -4 Goals Saved Above Average for the game is a pretty good hint. Game 1 was more like a 3-2 game from the play on the ice than the lopsided score on the board.

This type of thing happens often in hockey, so there was no reason for concern. However, maybe that first warning shot should have come in the next game — not from the sound of a Golden Knights goal, but the rhythmic sounds of pucks consistently ringing off the goal posts.

Vegas was better than Colorado in Game 2, but between Grubauer’s stubbornness and some bad luck for Golden Knights shooters, the game went to overtime despite a 2.02-0.98 advantage for Vegas in even-strength Expected Goals. The Avs scored a power play goal in overtime to give them a 2-0 series lead. It was easy to not be concerned for most.

 In Game 3, the Avs appeared poised to pull off an improbable win despite being outplayed throughout, only to see Jonathan Marchessault bank one in to tie it and Max Pacioretty tip one in for the eventual game-winner that kept Vegas alive. Maybe some more Avs backers joined the ranks of the cautiously concerned.

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Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.


Fleury Keeps Knights Afloat

It became very real in Game 4. The Golden Knights proved their dominance of Game 3 was more than just a change in venue and a subsequent push. Let’s look at some of the basic 5-on-5 metrics for those games in Vegas:

Avalanche Golden Knights
Expected Goals 5v5 For (Game 3) 1.09 3.76
High-Danger Chances 5v5 (Game 3) 4 15
Expected Goals For 5v5 (Game 4) 1.22 2.67
High-Danger Chances 5v5 (Game 4) 5 17

Uh oh. That’s ugly unless you’re a Vegas resident. Even those of us with Avalanche futures have to admit that we may have been caught red-handed. While a bet on Colorado to win the West at +125 and the Stanley Cup at +500 has only gained in value, it became clear after Game 4 that the Avalanche would likely needed to rely on their two remaining games at home in order to advance.

That’s why the series’ final “uh oh” came in Game 5. The Avalanche took their turn to dominate the run of play, but a 2-0 lead during the second intermission, disappeared like a volunteer at a Vegas magic show in the third period. Stone scored his goal, and now the Avalanche have to do something that the numbers in the above chart suggest may be near impossible.

Add in that Vegas is done giving away goals with Fleury back in between the pipes after the Game 1 fiasco, and the Golden Knights are frustrating the Avalanche in all three zones. While Game 5 should have been won by Colorado, that’s what Fleury is for. The Vezina nominee is there to keep the Golden Knights in games when they’re second-best like on Tuesday night.


Betting Analysis & Pick

When you’re beat, you’re beat. This year’s edition of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have shown us that once the writing is on the wall, it might as well be in permanent marker. The Canadiens polished off the Jets, the Lightning showed their killer instinct in Carolina, and the Islanders took no prisoners with a chance to eliminate the Bruins.

Using solely regular season priors, I would make the Avalanche a considerable favourite even in Vegas. However, we have enough information through this series to see that the matchup here is more relevant than what happened against the Sharks or Kings in February. Using just these fresh numbers, Vegas becomes the team that should be close to -200 favorites at home, the way Colorado was when this series started what feels like forever ago before the first of many “Uh ohs”.

Pick: Golden Knights (-135 or better)

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Thursday MLB Odds & Picks: 4 Best Bets, Including Giants vs. Nationals, Astros vs. Red Sox, Royals vs. Athletics & More (June 10)

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Editor’s Note: Thursday’s game between the Giants and Nationals has been postponed because of inclement weather. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.

Thursday in Major League Baseball is getaway day, and getaway day equals plenty of action throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

Our analysts have found angles on four of those games, with picks on Giants-Nationals, Astros-Red Sox, Rockies-Marlins and Royals-Athletics. Here are our four best bets from Thursday’s MLB slate.

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MLB Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
7:05 p.m. ET
Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox
7:10 p.m. ET
Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins
7:10 p.m. ET
Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics
9:40 p.m. ET

San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals

Editor’s Note: Thursday’s game between the Giants and Nationals has been postponed because of inclement weather. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.

Pick
Giants +160
Book
bet365
Pitchers
Anthony DeSclafani vs. Max Scherzer
First Pitch
7:05 p.m. ET

Sean Zerillo: I was high on the San Francisco Giants coming into the season, and in our preseason NL podcast preview I stated that I would likely end up betting on the Giants from game to game more than any other team.

Ultimately, they have been the most profitable team in baseball this season (+$1,469, 27.2% ROI for a consistent $100 bettor) and have racked up profit as underdogs (18-13, +$1,051, 33.9% ROI). Still, I didn’t see them having — or even contending — for the best record in baseball through two months, or I would have bet the Giants’ NL West and World Series futures in addition to their win total (closed 75.5).

Their performance to date is legitimate (Pythagorean record matches their actual record), but the Giants’ offense took a big blow last week when Evan Longoria — who has ranked in the top 10% of hitters this year by virtually every important Statcast metric — sustained a shoulder injury.

A trio of new hitting coaches has helped to unlock a late-career resurgence for many of these Giants’ stars, and their organization has combined that offensive uptick with the second-best pitching staff (.295 xwOBA allowed) behind the Dodgers (.289).

Anthony DeSclafani (3.62 xERA, 4.08 xFIP, 4.19 SIERA) was one of the sneaky offseason pitching additions acquired by Farhan Zaidi and staff, and the righty has made some adjustments to help generate a career-best 49% groundball rate, which pairs well with the Giants’ defense (+23 Defensive Runs Saved, seventh in MLB).

After a disappointing 2020 season — on the heels of an exhausting postseason run — Max Scherzer has resumed his Hall-of-Fame form (2.71 xERA, 3.06 xFIP, 2.64 SIERA) for the struggling Nationals (25-33).

I have nothing against Scherzer, but I still think he’s a bit overvalued on Thursday night, as I have the Giants projected at 39.6% for the first five innings (F5) and closer to 42% the full game. So I would place those bets down to +170 and +155, respectively.

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Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox

Pick
Astros +101
Book
William Hill
Pitchers
Zack Greinke vs. Eduardo Rodriguez
First Pitch
7:10 p.m. ET

Collin Whitchurch: Zack Greinke vs. Eduardo Rodriguez is, in a nutshell, a pretty appealing pitching matchup.

But that’s before you remember that Greinke isn’t what he was during his Cy Young-contender peak and that Rodriguez hasn’t been his usual self this season after his scary battle with COVID-19 last year.

Greinke has actually pitched very much like an ace over the last three weeks or so. He tossed a complete game against the Blue Jays last time out, and has gone eight innings or more and allowed just one earned run in three of his last four starts.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, continues to be frustrating for the Fenway faithful, and got shelled for six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against these very same Astros just 11 days ago.

That’s par for the course for the Astros against lefties, though. They have the best wRC+ in the majors against southpaws at 128, and Thursday should be no different.

That’s why I was a bit surprised to see the Astros as underdogs in at least a few spots. The +101 number cited here isn’t likely to be found at a good number of books, but I’ve seen some -105 out there, and would be comfortable betting Houston’s full-game moneyline to -120, which you should be able to find just about anywhere.


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Colorado Rockies vs. Miami Marlins

Pick
Marlins First 5 Innings -0.5 (-139)
Book
DraftKings
Pitchers
Chi Chi González vs. Trevor Rogers
First Pitch
7:10 p.m. ET

Brad Cunningham: Happy Chi Chi González day! González is once again getting shelled at the big league level, posting an xERA of 5.80. His K/9 rate is an embarrassingly low 4.66 and opponents are hitting .280 against him. His main two pitches of fastball and slider are getting tagged, as both are allowing a wOBA over .350 to opposing hitters. Miami has been below average against right-handed pitching with a .295 wOBA and 91 wRC+, but should be able to get to González .

Trevor Rogers is having a fantastic season so far, posting a 2.99 xERA and 3.44 xFIP. The reason for that is because he’s striking out batters left and right, with a K/9 of 10.62.

The biggest improvement for Rogers in 2021 has been his fastball. Last season, opponents crushed it to the tune of a .440 wOBA, but this season he’s brought that down to .301. He’s starting to utilize his changeup more often, too. That’s by far his best pitch, as opponents hit only .198 against it.

With the starting pitching matchup being such a mismatch, I think there is some value on the Marlins First Five Inning spread of -0.5 at -139 odds.

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Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics

Pick
Over 8 (-104)
Book
FanDuel
Pitchers
Mike Minor vs. Frankie Montas
First Pitch
9:40 p.m. ET

Kenny Ducey: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but I’m fading Frankie Montas. The sinker-baller is pretty bad at his job, which is to induce soft groundballs, allowing an average launch angle of 14.7 and a gaudy 90.7 mph off the bat. It’s because of this that Montas has struggled so mightily, to the tune of a 4.52 ERA; his sinkers stay up and out over the plate to get absolutely demolished.

The Royals have been pretty sharp in the contact department of late, hitting .269 over the past two weeks with plenty of quality in those batted ball events with a 42.4% hard-hit rate to rank sixth within the split. This lineup is peaking once again, and should be a prime candidate to get some runs on the board early and often.

But wait, there’s more! The A’s come into this game with the fifth-best wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and draw Mike Minor, who has allowed a pretty bad .393 xwOBA on contact to go along with a poor 8.2% walk rate. He’s been no hero for Kansas City, and is fresh off a five-run outing against the lowly Twins.

Simply put, getting short -104 odds on this over, and a chance to even push with just eight runs, is a gift that I’m going to be taking.

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