Five sports, five bets: What to wager on this weekend

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Steve Marcus

Joey Logano (22) races with teammate Ryan Blaney (12) and Kevin Harvick (4) during the Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.

Sat, Jun 6, 2020 (2 a.m.)

Casinos are open, and major sports aren’t far behind.

Luckily, in the meantime, there’s already plenty to bet on. Gamblers and bookmakers alike had to get creative to keep sports betting alive during quarantine, but they’ve done so admirably to now bring about what should be a golden period of action.

New, niche betting options now coexist with the return of interrupted sports to pack local betting boards once again. Not sure where to restart? Want to space out your bets?

From auto racing to soccer, from 15-minute fights taking place tonight to five-game hockey series still months away, Talking Points is here to help with a new column dispensing weekend betting advice.

Here are five bets with value across five sports to make this weekend.  

Bundesliga soccer: Leipzig minus-2.5 (plus-105) vs. Paderborn at South Point

Here’s the truth about the top European soccer leagues: It’s probably best not to bet them at all. They’re arguably the sharpest sports markets in the world, so at the least, it’s wise to go in with tempered expectations and view wagering as more of a means of entertainment than a path to profit.  

At the same time, no one wants to spend their early mornings battling malware attacks looking for illicit streams of Vietnam V.League 1 or Nemzeti Bajnoksag 1 games — both are available for wagering at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, though. So let’s stick with Bundesliga here, and go to where there still might be some value — on the outliers.

It’s tough to properly price teams on the extreme ends of efficiency, and last-place Paderborn might be as ineffective as league leader Bayern Munich — the top club in the world by several sets of ratings — is dominant. Paderborn lost 6-1 to Dortmund in its last match, and despite a two-point lead in the table, Leipzig is even better by expected goals.

Leipzig has plenty to play for as it tries to cling to a spot in the Champions League, while relegation is a foregone conclusion for Paderborn. This shouldn’t be close.

UFC 250: Cody Garbrandt minus-135 vs. Rafael Assuncao at Circa Sports

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Bantamweight fighter Pedro Munhoz lands a punch that sends Cody Garbrandt to the canvas during UFC 235 at T-Mobile Arena Saturday, March 2, 2019. Munoz won with a first-round knockout.

If you follow mixed martial arts, you’ve heard it before. But you need to hear it again: The aging curve hits harder in the smaller weight classes that rely on speed.

Assuncao is 38 years old; Garbrandt is 28. Both are among the best bantamweights in the world, but it’s more likely that the former champion Garbrandt’s peak is still ahead of him.

Yes, he’s lost three straight by knockout but two of them were to rival and fellow former champion T.J. Dillashaw. A sloppy first-round defeat to Pedro Munhoz at UFC 235 was more concerning, but Garbrandt has now had 15 months to shore up shortcomings like his striking defense.

All the struggles also provide an opportunity to buy low on a fighter who was once thought to have the chance to turn into a superstar of the sport.

Folds Of Honor QuikTrip 500 Matchup: Ryan Blaney (plus-115) vs. Alex Bowman at Circa Sports

It’s important to back strong drivers in this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Duh, right? Isn’t that always important?

Well, yes, but typically there are just as big if not bigger edges elsewhere — notably in speed. Driving takes on added significance in this race because it’s one of the longest of the year and on a track with a reputation for extra tire wear.

Bowman’s car has been among the fastest all season in NASCAR, but he’s arguably underachieved given the elite Hendrick Motorsports equipment with only one victory. He notably wrecked in two of the last three races.

That’s not to say Blaney has been much cleaner, as he also crashed while running in second at Bristol last week. But advanced driver metrics rate Blaney as a tick above Bowman, and his Team Penske cars have outperformed Hendrick’s on tracks like Atlanta in the past.

Blaney shouldn’t be an underdog here.

KBO future: Will NC Dinos win KBO series? No at minus-230 at Circa Sports

Circa’s ever-popular yes/no future props have reached Korean baseball, allowing for a fade of the hottest team in sports.

Behind pitching phenom Koo Chang-mo and a potent offense, the Dinos have a four-game lead in the standings through 27 games. Some regression is coming, though.

They’re 6-2 in one-run games and have far from separated themselves as the only contender. The perennial power Doosan Bears, which have made the Korean Series for five straight seasons, have started relatively slow with a negative run differential but sit only four games back. The Kiwoom Heroes might have the best personnel and went into Saturday on a four-game winning streak. The KT Wiz sock homerun balls like Barry Bonds at his most juiced.

There’s too much competition for odds this low.  

NHL series: Calgary Flames minus-120 vs. Winnipeg Jets at SuperBook

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Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) skates around Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Las Vegas.

The Westgate opened odds on all the NHL play-in series matchups, and they all shifted right into place with where the analytics indicated they should be — except this one.

The Flames are significantly better than the Jets, though confusion to the contrary is understandable. Winnipeg actually had a much better goal differential in the regular season, plus-13 to Calgary’s minus-5 , but don’t forget about the inherent randomness in hockey.

By expected-goals differential, a better predictive measure, Calgary crushed Winnipeg — plus-3.7 to negative-28.6. The Jets rode a career year from Connor Hellebuyck, but goalie performance is subject to wild fluctuations.

Hellebuyck was unlikely to sustain his pace even before a four-month layoff for the coronavirus. Put simply, there are a lot more skaters than goalies on the ice in a hockey game, so when in doubt, trust the team with the better skaters. The Flames have the much better skaters.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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