Welcome to the Winner’s Circle, a weekly column by Bet For The Win senior writer Prince J. Grimes. Here, you’ll read about stats and trends that can help you make informed betting predictions for the week ahead and beyond. Got something you want to see in the next Winners Circle, shoot Prince a message and check back next week for the response.
March Madness was another one for the books, but it’s finally over with the South Carolina women capping their wire-to-wire No. 1 season with a championship and Kansas completing an unbelievable comeback to top North Carolina on the men’s side.
That result might have been a little different if UNC big Armando Bacot were healthy, but he still had a monster impact. And UNC didn’t walk away completely empty handed. They won something like a national championship their previous game, upsetting rival Duke to retire coach Mike Krzyzewski — a result we probably should’ve seen coming.
The NBA’s MVP race continues to be a thrilling ride, as Nikola Jokic has pulled ahead of Joel Embiid as the betting favorite. Most likely feeling the tide shift while he’s still playing at an elite level, Embiid questioned what more he needs to do to prove himself worthy.
In other NBA news, the Utah Jazz continue to gain big leads and blow them. Not only is it a reason they remain tough to trust as the playoffs near, it’s also why they’ve failed to cover a spread in seven straight games, according to Covers.
Here are a few more things I’m looking at in the week ahead.
If I’m being completely honest, I don’t do much golf. It’s just not a sport that’s ever grabbed my attention in a way to make me care about it outside of the majors. And even then, I’m a casual observer who only knows more than your average casual because I work in sports.
But before giving any real betting advice on golf, I would do a good amount of research to make sure my opinion is based in fact. That’s not what this is here.
Maybe over the next 48 hours before the start of the Masters, I’ll get around to figuring out some good value picks. But even if I don’t have realistic action on a winner, I very well may have enough incentive to watch – that’s because Tiger Woods is a game-time decision to make his return to professional golf.
I SAID TIGER WOODS MIGHT BE BACK!
A huge long shot to actually win if he does play, Woods is the biggest liability at least one sportsbook where he’s received the most bets — and they probably aren’t alone. I, for one, intend to join the public and get in on that action, not because I think he’s actually going to win, but because if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s the outcome we all most want to see. His odds at Tipico Sportsbook are +6000.
I am absolutely stunned Woods is able to potentially compete again after seeing the aftermath of the brutal car accident he was involved in last February. It was hard to fathom him ever playing golf, let alone competing for majors, considering his previous injury history and the new ailments he’d have to rehab. That he’s even alive is a small miracle. So whether or not my bet hits, I’ll be happy to just witness him walk around the greens and swing a club.
But if Woods is somehow able to capture another win in an event he’s conquered more than all but one man – with the latest of his five wins coming in 2019 – it’ll be one of the greatest comeback stories in all of sports. And I’d like to have a little stake in that.
MVPs and Moneylines
The prospect of betting World Series futures doesn’t really do it for me the way other futures do, or even betting individual MLB games. Staring down a 162-game season in a sport full of slumps and runs, I’m more likely to forget about a team’s future I bet on than feel good about it from April to October. I need a little more instant gratification.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m putting action on the Los Angeles Dodgers at +480 odds because they’re loaded as usual – and not falling apart before the season even starts like the New York Mets – but I’ll have a lot more fun tracking MVP futures.
Between the GOAT-in-the-making Juan Soto at +260 odds to win NL MVP, reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani to repeat at +320 odds, and more leaders of the new school like Ronald Acuna Jr. (+650), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+330) and Aaron Judge (+1500), this is a much more enticing race to follow day-to-day. The MLB is loaded with both established and growing offensive talents, and while I like to win, I also want to enjoy what I’m watching. They make the game enjoyable for me.
Where I’ll get my joy in what teams do is in the day-to-day grind of picking spreads, moneylines and props. Others get it from fantasy baseball, another great option. Baseball is just so much more interesting when you have an added incentive.
If I bet on a game between the Royals and Twins to fall under 7.5 runs and the game is at seven with six outs left, I’m more inclined to stick around for an at-bat between a .230 hitter and a pitcher with a 6.00 ERA than I would be otherwise. When I’m not watching Mike Trout work a count or Gerrit Cole paint the corners, I need something else to make games more entertaining and this is what does it for me.
Stars and spreads, MVPs and moneylines. Give me one or give me none.
To make the playoffs, or not to make the playoffs
The final week of the NBA season is here and the league’s play-in tournament field is becoming increasingly clear. The Los Angeles Lakers — two games out of 10th place — are the only team on the outside who can still potentially sneak in. Outside of them, the only other potential for change is at the top of the play-in field where the sixth and seventh place teams in each conference can change. Everything else from seventh to 10th place is a matter of order.
However, before things shape out over the next few days, some sportsbooks still have playoff odds for teams in the play-in field and there’s a ton of value still out there. The Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs all have plus odds to make the playoffs. And I particularly like the Hawks and Pelicans’ chances.
If the season ended today, the Hawks would only need to win a single game against the Cleveland Cavaliers to make the playoffs. They’re 3-1 against Cleveland this year and the Cavs have been in a bit of a slide lately due to injuries at critical positions. It’s possible they get healthy in time for a win-and-in game, but it’d still be a lot to ask of players returning from injury to slow a Hawks team that has won five straight games entering Tuesday.
This also puts really good value on plus odds that the Cavs miss the playoffs. I’m just saying.
As for the Pelicans, they would have to win two games to make the playoffs as things currently stand, with the first being against either the Spurs or Lakers. It’s a tall order (they’re 3-0 against LA but just 1-3 against SA), but if the Pels were able to win the first game, they’re a combined 5-3 against the two teams they’d potentially play in a win-and-in game – the Minnesota Timberwolves and LA Clippers.
Things can obviously still change, but the odds on these scenarios will only grow longer the closer they come to fruition. This time next week, the seeds will be locked and I’ll be picking play-in game winners.
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