The sports-scheduling gods have cursed us with a weekend that includes neither UFC nor NASCAR, two of the go-to options of the weekend wagering column to get to the promised five bets on five different sports.
Instead of wondering what indignity I’ve committed to endure such a fate, let’s adjust to keep the standard setup intact. There are still plenty of sports going on, more than enough to still be well-rounded while looking for winners.
I’ll use the opportunity to dip into some markets I typically gloss over and rest up for next weekend’s smorgasbord of activity where virtually everything — including The Masters — will be on betting boards.
Read this week’s weekend wagers’ column below. Records are attached individually by sport, with the cumulative at the bottom of the page. The monetary figure is calculated by the assumption of a bettor placing a $100 wager on each pick. Any picks outside of the column will be linked and included in the record total. Odds are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time.
Golf (8-4-1, $339.87): Rickie Fowler -105 vs. Keegan Bradley in third round of Valero Texas Open (Circa Sports)
Rickie Fowler is back! That's unfortunately typed mostly in jest, but wouldn't it be fun if one of the world's most famous golfers did break out of his prolonged slump? A few years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine a Masters without Fowler but that's what's going to happen this year barring him breaking through and winning in San Antonio this weekend. Sitting nine strokes back to former local roommate Cameron Tringale through 36 holes, the chances of that are slim to none. But he did show a little life on Friday firing one of the best rounds of the day with a 4-under par. Fowler was locked in on all phases of his game and this bet is a leap of faith that he may have found something. Bradley is another big name whose game fits well at TPC San Antonio, but he was mostly bailed out with putting and chipping on Friday. He struggled off the tee and looked less comfortable than Fowler. It quite possibly was just a random one-day sample, but let's hope there's more to it.
College basketball (1-1-1, -$9.09): Quentin Grimes over 16.5 points -105 (Station Casinos)
I’ve already written about why I like Houston so much and this prop captures what the Cougars will need to happen to stay in the game with the Bears. They’ll need a big night from Grimes, who should be capable of delivering. Baylor’s defense isn’t anything special, and Grimes has made his season by feasting on defenses that aren’t anything special. He’s developed a terrific three-point stroke and Houston’s biggest liability defensively is guarding the three-point line. There are increased betting options available for the Final Four and it would be a missed opportunity not to take advantage of them. Backing Grimes stands out as one of the best ways to attack the props.
MLB (0-1, -$100): Minnesota Twins +117 at Milwaukee Brewers (Circa)
The betting market may be overvaluing Milwaukee starter Corbin Burnes, who broke out last season and became an unlikely Cy Young candidate in the National League. Burnes has a bright future ahead of him, but a lot of data coming out of last year's coronavirus-shortened season needs to be considered cautiously. For instance, Burnes didn't face any offenses as strong as Minnesota's. The Twins seem to be coming into the season at a discount after another premature postseason flameout but that's unfair and holds no predictive value going forward. Looking for spots to back the Twins early in the season seems wise, and this just might be one of them.
NHL (8-3, $442.42): Colorado Avalanche puck line -1.5 +110 vs. St. Louis Blues (Boyd)
Jonas Johansson started in net for the Avalanche Friday night, meaning Philip Grubauer should be back for tonight’s game. In other words, the only reason why Colorado shouldn’t eviscerate St. Louis is eliminated. Grubauer has been sensational this season and makes the Avalanche a complete steamroller when he’s in. This is the first puck-line play I’ve ever suggested, but at plus money with what’s been the best team in the NHL, it’s a good place to start.
NBA (5-5, -$36.370): Cleveland Cavaliers +12 vs. Miami Heat (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Miami plays at one of the three slowest paces in the NBA, and with its rejiggered starting lineup out of the trade deadline, the Heat might be getting even more methodical going forward. That seems to be better reflected in the total for this game — 204 — than it is in the point spread. The Heat have to play extremely efficiently to beat any team by 12 points, even the lowly Cavaliers. They’re not getting enough possessions in to blow out teams easily. Cleveland has been terrible lately, losing four of five by double digits, but seems to be getting healthier with Kevin Love back. Both Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance are questionable for Saturday. With some luck, they’ll both be cleared and this line will crash down. If not, a shorter Heat victory appears to be the likeliest outcome here.
Weekend betting column year to date: 110-100-1, $2,776.60
Previous pending future wagers: Brooklyn Nets to win NBA Finals +505; Milwaukee Bucks to win NBA Finals +745; Utah Jazz to win Northwest division +250; Philadelphia 76ers to win Atlantic division +300; Boston Celtics under 45.5 wins; Memphis Grizzlies over 31.5 wins; Dallas Mavericks to win Southwest division -145; Villanova to win NCAA Tournament 15-to-1; Gonzaga to win NCAA Tournament +250; Gonzaga to win NCAA Tournament +150; Colorado Avalanche to win West Division +150; All preseason NHL bets