Top Week 10 NFL Games

The NFL season continues to heat and week ten’s matchups should provide us with not only some great NFL games, but also some great betting opportunities. Here are a few of my favorites and a few games you shouldn’t miss this weekend.

Dallas Cowboys 3-5 at Philadelphia Eagles 3-5

Two teams that expected to jump off to better starts in the NFC East are the Cowboys and the Eagles, but here they are in week 10, both 3-5 and in search of a season turnaround game. One of them will reign victorious this week as they play each other, but who?

The Eagles come into the game this week on a four-game losing streak and with questions at the quarterback position. Although coach Andy Reid continues to dismiss the fact that there are questions, many are calling for a change as Mike Vick has struggled not just lately, but really all season long. Philly will likely continue to have a tough time throwing the football, as they go up against the 5th ranked pass defense this week in Dallas.

Meanwhile, the Boys have lost their last two and are obviously underachieving as well, but they bring the 3rd ranked passing offense in the league into this week’s matchup. With a non-existent running game, expect Dallas to air it out plenty against the Eagles

Both of these teams have struggled with turnovers and that will likely be the difference this week. Whoever wins the turnover margin should win this one and although Tony Romo has been inconsistent at times, Vick is flat out under-performing. I like Dallas to get the job done on the road this week and cover the -1 point spread.

Houston Texans 7-1 at Chicago Bears 7-1

We go from a game featuring two season disappointments to a game displaying two of the league’s best with Houston against Chicago. The Bears are unbeaten at home, but have benefited from a soft schedule in the first half of the season. They’ve only beaten one team with a winning record and will have easily their toughest test of the season with Houston coming in this week.

The Texans feature an explosive offense and stout defense that has led them to having the best record in the AFC. Everyone knew how good the Texans offense would be coming into the season, with Arian Foster at tailback and Matt Schaub at quarterback, but what many didn’t expect was just how good Houston’s defense would be. Houston currently has the 4th ranked pass defense and 2nd ranked run defense.

The Bears have won plenty of close games and have been opportunistic, but the Texans are the more solid, more consistent team. Unless Houston makes unforced errors and turnovers, it should be able to have its way with the Bears, who haven’t seen a team yet this year with so much talent. Look for the Texans to take this one on the road today and cover +1.

Mike Brown Fired, Lakers Look Ahead

After guiding the team to a 1-4 start, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown was fired on Friday.

The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown on Friday, announcing that assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff would take on an interim role until a replacement is found.

A 1-4 start to the season – and the intensive media speculation that came along with it – simply wasn’t good enough for general manager Mitch Kupchack and vice president Jerry Buss.

“The team is not winning at the pace that we expected this team to win,” Kupchack said, “and we didn’t see improvement.”

Brown’s firing had been speculated early in the season but the general consensus was that he would be given until January to bring his team of misfiring All-Stars up to scratch. His removal was a surprise to most.

Brown was hired by the Lakers during the summer of 2011, following the departure of Phil Jackson. In the lockout-shortened season, Brown’s team recorded a record of 41-25 (.621) but struggled in the playoffs, narrowly defeating Denver before being easily dispatched by Oklahoma City.

Speculation mounted during the season that Brown was on the hot seat, a sentiment reiterated by former Laker great and board member, Magic Johnson. Still, the Lakers retained Brown’s services, until Friday that is. The 2009 Head Coach of the Year compiled an overall record with the Lakers of 42-29 (.592).

Brown becomes the eighth coach in Lakers history to be relieved of his duties during the regular season, joining John Kundla, John Castellani, Jack McKinney, Paul Westhead, Randy Phund, Del Harris and Rudy Tomjanovich.

In response to the news, the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 101-77 on Friday night. Ironically, the Laker defense, poor all season, put in its best performance. Meanwhile, Dwight Howard played just 24 minutes in an attempt to ease pain on his back while Steve Nash was again absent (leg). Without the two high-profile offseason signings, the Lakers (2-4) did just fine.

The search now begins to find a new head coach.

Early reports have Phil Jackson and Mike D’Antoni as favorites to take on the role.

Jackson has not coached since departing the Lakers at the end of the 2010-11 season. His record of 1155-485 (.704) makes him a viable candidate for any head coaching job, but more importantly, it was Jackson that turned Lakers’ fortunes around. Twice.

His arrival in 1999 immediately propelled the side to three straight championships. After retiring in 2004, Jackson returned in 2005 and led the Lakers to another three Finals appearances, and two championships.

Mike D’Antoni meanwhile was removed from his duties in New York last season, having led the Knicks to an 18-24 record. Prior to that, D’Antoni had coached three years in the Big Apple as well as five years in Phoenix and a partial season in Denver back in 1998-99.

D’Antoni has an all-time coaching record of 388-339 (.534). Were he to be selected for the vacant position in Los Angeles, he would be reunited with Steve Nash, whom he coached in Phoenix.

As well as Jackson and D’Antoni, a number of other names have already begun to circulate, including Jerry Sloan, Mike Dunleavy and Nate McMillan.

Jerry Sloan has been absent from the league since unexpectedly being fired by the Utah Jazz in 2011. Sloan had coached the side for 18 years prior to his removal, and was considered a Salt Lake City staple. His all-time coaching record is 1221-803 (.603), which includes a three-year stint in Chicago before his lengthy tenure in Utah.

Mike Dunleavy’s last assignment in the NBA came with the cross-hallway Clippers between 2003 and 2010. His all-time coaching record of 613-716 (.461) may not be impressive but the Lakers will remember his stint with the club.

Dunleavy’s first head coaching role came in 1990 with the Lakers. In two seasons he led the team to a record of 101-63 (.616) and a trip to the NBA Finals, where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls on their way to a first NBA title.

McMillan was another casualty of last year’s lockout shortened season. He was dismissed from Portland, leaving the team with a 20-23 record. In 12 years with the Blazers and Seattle Sonics, McMillan tallied a record of 478-452 (.514).

As we speak, oddsmakers will be addressing the coaching vacancy and putting together a list of viable candidates. Expect the almost obligatory inclusion of Mike Krzyzewski (Duke/Team USA) and a possible nod for Tomjanovich. The latter is currently a scout for the Lakers and despite a rough run as head coach in 2004-05, might be considered a suitable replacement.

Once a list of candidates is established, bookmakers will be busy updating the NBA Futures, with the Lakers’ odds likely to lengthen.

Top 5 NBA Games: 11/9

With another great 13-game slate of NBA games today, it may be hard to choose which ones to bet, so I’ve listed five of the top games of the day here and my picks on the point spreads.

LeBron and the Heat cruised past the Nets

Miami Heat 4-1 at Atlanta Hawks 2-1

As expected, the Heat have gotten off to a hot start in their title defense and are coming off a 103-73 rout of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. Tonight, the Heat will encounter one of the other top teams in the East, the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks have won two in a row after dropping their opener, but will have a tough time defending the Heat, who are scoring 110 per contest. Look for Miami to keep things rolling by covering -6 points with the win today.

Dallas Mavericks 4-1 at New York Knicks 3-0

The Knicks are the only remaining unbeaten team in the NBA and not only that, but they have absolutely creamed each team in their three wins. Tonight they will host the 4-1 Mavericks, who are also obviously playing well, but without Dirk Nowitzki the Mavericks will have a tough time dealing with the vast talent that the Knicks possess. Look for New York to continue its early season winning steak by covering -6 points at home tonight against O.J. Mayo and the Mavs.

Houston Rockets 2-2 Memphis Grizzlies 3-1

The Grizzlies have rattled off three consecutive wins after dropping their opener, while the Rockets started hot, winning their first two, but have lost their last two. Tonight Houston will look to get back on track on the road.

James Harden still leads the league with 30.3 points per game, but has struggled in the last two, which both resulted in Houston losses. Meanwhile, Memphis has gotten great performances out of its starters, including big man Marc Gasol, who is averaging 19.3 points per game and 7.5 rebounds. Look for Memphis to use its inside play to its advantage and exploit Houston’s defense. Take the Grizzlies to cover -6.5 points tonight at home.

Detroit Pistons 0-5 at Oklahoma City Thunder 3-2

The Pistons are one of only two winless teams remaining in the league and unfortunately for them, things won’t get easier tonight as they travel to OKC to take on the Thunder. Oklahoma City is coming off a big win against the Chicago Bulls and is looking to improve to 4-2 on the young season.

Despite their record and strong shooting, the Thunder are among the league leaders in team turnovers with 18.4 per game. The Pistons may be able to exploit this and although they don’t have the firepower to get a win on the road against a team like OKC, I do think they can cover the +11.5 point spread. Look for the Pistons to keep things close in a loss tonight.

Golden State Warriors 3-2 at Los Angeles Lakers 1-4 

Kobe and Co. still have a lot to figure out

One of the big stories so far this season has been the slow start of the Lakers, who spent much of the offseason acquiring what they thought would be their dream team. Obviously, it’s still early, but needless to say, things haven’t gone as planned for the Lakers, who are just 1-4 on the year.

Despite this, the talent level of Lakers makes them a six and a half point favorite tonight over the Warriors. They will once again be without Steve Nash, but with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard playing well and with homecourt advantage, you would think the Lakers would be able to get things moving in the right direction.

But, I like the Warriors here, at least to cover the +6.5 spread. The Lakers are still a team trying to find an identity and a chemistry, which we all know, often times outweighs pure talent. Basketball is a team game, so expect the better team to take this one. Go Warriors here.

 

 

 

Week 11 College Football Tips

The Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M Aggies will be looking to keep their SEC West title hopes alive with an upset win over #1 Alabama.

It feels like just yesterday we were preparing for Alabama’s showdown with Michigan at Cowboys Stadium, but believe it or not, it’s only a few short weeks until we reach championship and Bowl season.

A number of big games take place this week that could decide, or at least go a long way to deciding, who represents the various conferences at their respective championship games. There’re also a few games that might have some influence on the National Championship picture.

While Oregon heads to California, Notre Dame challenges Boston College and Kansas State takes on TCU – all games that should go with the formbook – let’s take a look at this weekend’s ranked matchups and see how they might impact the final standings.

 

#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s set a scenario. If Alabama was to close out the season with losses to both A&M and Auburn, and the Aggies knocked off Mizzou in the last week of the regular season, Texas A&M would head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. How would that be for an SEC debut?

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, nobody believes that Alabama is going to lose one game, let alone two, but, whilst there’s a possibility, maybe it’s worth a gamble?

The clash on Saturday will mark only the fourth encounter between the two sides, the last one coming in 1988. Alabama won that game and is 3-1 overall. Alabama had a tough outing against LSU last week, and showed for the first time that it may well be beatable. It’s up to Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to try and prove that the Tide is beatable.

Odds: Alabama opened as 15½-point favorites but that number has fallen to 14 ahead of kickoff. The over/under is 56.

Take: Alabama – Aside from slipups to Florida and LSU, Texas A&M has looked good this season, just not good enough to head Alabama off at the pass. The best the Aggies can hope for is to cover the spread, which is a good bet. Take the under on 56 points; both teams will be relying on defense on Saturday.

 

#11 Oregon State @ #17 Stanford

Oregon has all but been awarded the Pac-12 North title, and a place in the BCS Championship game, but in reality, were the Ducks to slip up, it’s possible that either the Cardinal or the Beavers could leapfrog the team from Eugene.

The team that stands a chance of doing just that will be decided this weekend at the Farm. Neither team will be mathematically eliminated this weekend, but the winner looks likely to have the best advantage heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Stanford convincingly leads the all-time head-to-head 50-25-3 and has won two on the bounce. However, Oregon State has won seven of the last 11.

Odds: Stanford is favored at home but an opening 5½ spread has fallen to four. The over/under is 45.

Take: Oregon State – This is a perfect opportunity to take the underdog. The Beavers have looked solid all season, while Stanford has had a few questionable moments. A win for Oregon State sets up a Civil War game for the North title. Take the over.

 

Arizona State @ #19 USC

Remember in the preseason when pundits and bookies had USC to win it all? Things haven’t exactly panned out that way, have they?

This weekend, Arizona State travels to Los Angeles knowing that a win will leapfrog the Sun Devils over the Trojans into second place in the Pac-12 South or, even better, first if UCLA loses to WASU later in the day.

USC meanwhile will be looking to right an unsteady ship and begin a charge to the title, thus making amends for a disappointing season. A win on Saturday, coupled with a UCLA loss would put the Trojans at the top of the table. Even if UCLA defeats the Cougars, a showdown with USC lies in wait next weekend.

USC is 18-10 all-time against Arizona State. However, the Trojans has an 11-game win streak shattered last season when the Sun Devils took a 43-22 victory in the desert. Arizona State has not won at the Coliseum since 1999.

Odds: USC opened as 10-point favorites, but action has seen the spread drop to nine. The over/under is 65.

Take: USC – The Trojans have not lost three straight since 2001 and look to have an offense strong enough to handle the Sun Devils, who have lost three straight themselves. Take USC to cover the spread and the total to go over.

 

BCS Top 25 Schedule (Week 11)

Ball State 34-27 #25 Toledo (Tuesday)

#10 Florida State 28-22 Virginia Tech (Thursday)

#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama

#2 Kansas State @ TCU

#3 Oregon @ California

#4 Notre Dame @ Boston College

#5 Georgia @ Auburn

Louisiana-Lafayette @ #6 Florida

#21 Mississippi State @ #7 LSU

Arkansas @ #8 South Carolina

#9 Louisville @ Syracuse

#11 Oregon State @ #14 Stanford

Baylor @ #12 Oklahoma

Maryland @ #13 Clemson

Penn State @ #16 Nebraska

Iowa State @ #17 Texas

#18 UCLA @ Washington State

Arizona State @ #19 USC

#20 Louisiana Tech @ Texas State

Kansas @ #22 Texas Tech

Army @ #23 Rutgers

#24 Northwestern @ Michigan

Thursday Night Football: Colts vs. Jaguars

After finishing last season with the league’s worst record, no one thought the Indianapolis Colts would have a winning record halfway through this year. The draft pick of Andrew Luck has certainly paid off for Indy and at 5-3, they are certainly in the playoff hunt.

The Jaguars won round one against the Colts, but can they do it again?

Meanwhile, the 2012 Jaguars have become the Colts of last season. The 1-7 Jags desperately a miracle winning-streak to have any short of shot at the postseason, so on paper tonight’s game between the teams seems like a pretty big mismatch. However, the only win the Jaguars do have this season, came against the Colts in week three 22-17.

Luck continues to improve as a passer and should have success today against one of the league's worst pass defenses

Luck has shown the ability to adapt to defensive schemes in the second half of games, so there’s reason to believe that he will fare better facing the Jaguars for the second time this season. Luck has also quietly grown as a NFL starter since week three and is coming off a career best performance last week against the Dolphins, completing 30 of 48 passes for 433 yards and two touchdowns.

On the other side, Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars are ranked last in the NFL in passing yards per game.  You could argue that it’s because Jacksonville is a run-first type of offense, but they aren’t getting it done on the ground either, ranking just 28th in the league with 84 yards per game.

Things won’t be easy for Jacksonville of the defensive side of the ball either. Not only are the Colts bringing in the 6th best passing offense in terms of yards per game, but the Jags will defending that aerial attack with 25th best pass defense. It looks like Luck may have another big game.

The Jaguars did win the first time these two squads met, but with all of the advantages, I don’t see Indy losing this one, especially considering how well they are playing as of late. Inversely, the Jaguars are sliding, having lost five in a row. What’s interesting is the Colts are only three-point favorites today, presumably because they are on the road, but I’d like to think they will easily cover that today. So feel safe in betting Colts to cover-3 tonight to improve to 6-3.

 

 

Big Games Still on the College Football Slate

Thanks to an elaborate sequence of events, a win over Wisconsin this weekend could find the Indiana Hoosiers representing the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game.

On Tuesday CasinoReview took a look at the biggest rivalry games still to be played this season. There’s a whole chunk of them and College Football is going to be exciting down to the last play of the season.

Today we’ve trawled through the remaining schedule and picked out the biggest (non-rivalry) games left on the slate, most of which focus on those teams looking to play their way into a conference championship game or a conference title itself.

Below is a list of the top ten(ish) fixtures left on the schedule.

Editor’s Note: Much of the content is based on assumptions that the formbook will remain true. Of course, College Football is all too good at throwing upsets out there, so there’s (always) a chance that those games played towards the end of November may take on a whole different meaning. For now, let’s play nicely in the world of theoretical football. As a final note, the games included on this list generally feature two sides that will be impacted by the same game. Yes, we know Alabama-Texas A&M is going to be a big game, but more so for the Tide than the Aggies.

 

Wisconsin @ Indiana (Nov. 10)

Big Ten: Indiana could represent the Leaders Division at the Big Ten Championship Game. This might seem a little beyond the realms of plausibility, but it’s true. Due to both Ohio State and Penn State – the two table-toppers – being ineligible, Wisconsin currently fills the ‘top’ spot, one-game ahead of the Hoosiers. If Indiana beats the Badgers, in theory it has an ‘easier’ schedule (at Penn State, at Purdue) than Wisconsin (Vs. Ohio State, at Penn State). That means this Saturday’s game could ultimately decide the Leaders Division’s representative. Shocking.

San Diego State @ Air Force (Nov. 10)

MWC: It should be duly noted that the Mountain West isn’t simply about one big game; there are plenty to follow. With five teams still in the hunt, this weekend’s clash between the Aztecs and Falcons will not decide the conference, but it will make a massive dent. As well as this meeting with the San Diego State, Air Force still has an impending clash with Fresno State (Nov. 24) which puts the impetus firmly on the Falcons’ side of the field. Nevada’s games with Fresno State (Nov. 10) and Boise State (Dec. 1) could prove to have a huge impact too.

Arizona State @ USC (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: USC hosts the Sun Devils this coming weekend aware that a loss will effectively mean the end of the Trojans’ hopes for the South Division title. A win for USC sets up a must-win game with UCLA the following weekend, although Lane Kiffin’s side will still need to hope Stanford can knock off the Bruins in the last week of the season.

Oregon State @ Stanford (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: Big strides can be made in the Pac-12 North this weekend also, as the Beavers travel to the Farm to take on Stanford. Both sides currently have conference records of 5-1, and are within touching distance of the undefeated Oregon. A loss for either side will see those championship chances extinguished. Both sides still have to face Oregon, which brings us to…

Stanford @ Oregon (Nov. 17) or Oregon @ Oregon State (Nov. 24)

Pac-12: If Stanford beats Oregon State, the North Division title will be decided in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 17. If the Beavers win, a Civil War showdown in Corvallis on Nov. 24 will be for all the marbles. Yes, we realize that this list wasn’t supposed to include rivalry match-ups, but this is one hell of a three-way dance.

Kent State @ Bowling Green (Nov. 17)

MAC: Bowling Green’s 26-14 win over Ohio on Wednesday night looks to have turned a three-horse race for the MAC’s Eastern Division into a two horse race. Providing the team wins this weekend, the Golden Flashes will visit Perry Stadium knowing that a win will all but secure the title.

Utah State @ Louisiana Tech (Nov. 17)

WAC: The Bulldogs of LA Tech have been bothering the rankings for what seems like the better part of the season now. Only a loss to Texas A&M mars the school’s record. But Louisiana Tech isn’t guaranteed a second straight WAC title. Utah State, still unbeaten in the conference, will have a say in who is crowned the final conference football champion. Essentially, barring any hiccups down the stretch, this game will determine who takes the prize.

Toledo @ Northern Illinois (Nov. 17)

MAC: Currently one and two in the MAC’s Western Division, the Rockets and Huskies will meet in DeKalb, Ill., next weekend in what could be the division decider. Toledo’s loss to Ball State on Tuesday night has given Northern Illinois the advantage for now, but a head-to-head win would propel Toledo above the Huskies.

Louisville @ Rutgers (Nov. 29)

Big East: With both sides facing two conference challenges between now and this New Jersey showdown, a lot of scenarios can arise. For now, it’s simple: if both teams steer the course, this clash will determine who closes out the season as Big East champions.

Arkansas State @ Middle Tennessee (Dec. 1)

Sun Belt: Finally, with four weeks of play left, the Sun Belt Conference is completely up for grabs. No fewer than seven teams (Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, and North Texas) are still mathematically in the mix, which makes this a bettors’ paradise or nightmare, depending how you look at it. Let’s keep it simple then; if the remaining schedule is true to the formbook, this clash between the Red Wolves and Blue Raiders could well decide the division. This weekend’s rivalry clash between Arkansas State and ULM could have a huge bearing also.

 

List of Conference Championship Games

ACC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

Big Ten: Sat., Dec. 1 – Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

C-USA: Sat, Dec. 1 – Hosted by team with highest winning percentage

MAC: Fri., Nov. 30 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI)

Pac-12: Fri., Nov. 30 – Hosted by team with best conference record

SEC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)

BCS National Championship Game: Mon., Jan. 7 – Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)

Obama’s In; Let’s Get Back To Basketball

Ray Allen's 15.5 PPG average has been a big part of Miami's high-scoring offense early in the season, but the Heat concede a lot of points also, something Brooklyn will be looking to take advantage of on Wednesday night.

Last night’s NBA slate was a little on the sparse side as a large portion of the nation waited upon the Presidential Election results.

Well, it’s confirmed: Obama has been reelected. Our reward? A massive 13-game schedule from the Association. You’re going to need some help sifting through these if you want to make it out with your money intact.

 

Brooklyn Nets @ Miami Heat

Whilst early season hype is all too easy to hurl out there, it’s hard not to look at this season’s Heat team and think: ‘Wow, they’ve got something going on there.”

Save for a loss in New York, Miami (3-1, 3-0 home) has been red hot to open the season, averaging a 111.8 PPG. Take out that loss and the Heat is averaging 121 points. That’s something else.

Brooklyn (1-1, 0-0 road) will be faced with the unenviable task of trying to beat the Heat tonight. What’s more, the new-look side will need to win at AmericanAirlines Arena, where the home side remains unbeaten.

Brooklyn has more than enough to give the Heat some trouble, but few will back the NYC team tonight. While Miami doesn’t measure up in the low post, the sheer firepower on hand – not to mention the assists that are flying around in South Beach – means that the Heat will be hard to beat.

Odds: Miami (-9) enters as favorites. The over/under is 200.

Take: Miami – You won’t make a lot of money, but the Heat will get the job done. Take the Nets to cover the spread though; Miami seems as good at conceding points early as scoring. Take the over; both sides know how to put points on the board.

 

Denver Nuggets @ Houston Rockets

Hey, have you heard of that guy James Harden? He’s averaging 35.3 PPG for the Houston Rockets.

Harden has certainly raised a few eyebrows in his short tenure in Space City and it has Houston (2-1, 0-1 home) looking like a different team. The Rockets will host Denver (1-3, 0-3 road) tonight.

Whilst Harden and Houston have been making headlines, the Nuggets have gotten off to a tough start to the season, although part of that is to do with the number of road games the team is playing. The Nuggets – despite their record – have a whole heap of talent, and will more than likely be in the thick of things come playoff time.

Odds: Houston (-2½) is favored at home. The over/under is 206½.

Take: Denver – With Andre Iguodala added to the mix, Denver is a better team than last year and perhaps the best side Houston has faced yet. The Nuggets will be looking to jump on the momentum of last night’s win over Detroit. Take the under; whilst both teams can score in bunches, expect Denver to bring some defense to the table.

 

Los Angeles Lakers @ Utah Jazz

You’d have to have been living under a rock the size of Oquirrh Mountains to not know about the struggles of the Los Angeles Lakers (1-3, 0-1 road). A win over Detroit on Sunday deflected some attention, but all eyes will once again be on Kobe, Dwight, and Co. tonight.

Utah (1-3, 1-0 home) hasn’t fared any better than the Lakers this season, but of course the big difference is that much less expectation fell on the shoulders of the Salt Lake City side. Tonight offers an excellent opportunity to make a big statement, and get the season turned around. Actually, that goes for both sides.

The Lakers will still be without Steve Nash once again as he continues to rehab a (mildly) fractured leg. Steve Blake will deputize, and most likely watching what he says after the league fined him $25,000 for using profane language.

Odds: Utah (-1) is favored in this one. The over/under is 194.

Take: LA Lakers – How often are you going to get to bet on the Lakers as an underdog this season? Despite the panic that has engulfed much of Tinseltown, the Lakers have enough to win, especially against Utah. Take the total to go under.

 

Wednesday’s Full Schedule (Favorites highlighted)

Phoenix @ Charlotte (7 PM ET)

Washington @ Boston (7:30 PM ET)

Indiana @ Atlanta (7:30 PM ET)

Brooklyn @ Miami (7:30 PM ET)

Memphis @ Milwaukee (8 PM ET)

Philadelphia @ New Orleans (8 PM ET)

Denver @ Houston (8 PM ET)

Orlando @ Minnesota (8 PM ET)

Toronto @ Dallas (8:30 PM ET)

LA Lakers @ Utah (9 PM ET)

Detroit @ Sacramento (10 PM ET)

San Antonio @ LA Clippers (10:30 PM ET)

Cleveland @ Golden State (10:30 PM ET)

NBA Roundup: 11/6

With the NBA regular season in full swing, teams are looking to establish themselves as top dog in their respective divisions and conferences. Here are the results from last night’s contests as well as a preview of a few of today’s hardcourt battles.

The Bulls' Tuesday win was a team effort

Chicago Bulls 99 – Orlando Magic 93

The Orlando Magic had enjoyed two consecutive wins and a lead for three quarters Tuesday night against the Bulls, but Chicago’s resilience aided them in a fourth quarter comeback as they picked up their third win of the season. The Bulls improved to 3-1 on the young season while the Magic dropped to 2-1.

Chicago got great performances out of Joakim Noah, who scored 20 points and nabbed nine rebounds, and Luol Deng, who added 23 points, 15 of which came in the second half when the Bulls started to charge. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler also made big contributions off the bench to sustain the second half run.

“The guys we had in, Taj and Jimmy, gave us a big lift,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said via ESPN.com. “Nate (Robinson) also was really good out there. I thought in the second half, we played a lot harder.”

The Bulls will get the night off tonight, as the Magic will look to bounce back  on the road against the Timberwolves. The Magic have played well without Dwight Howard so far this season and I like them to cover +6.5 points on the road against a Minnesota team without Ricky Rubio or Kevin Love.

Oklahoma City Thunder 108 – Toronto Raptors 88

The Thunder took advantage of the struggling Raptors Tuesday, beating them in a 30-point rout. Improving to 2-2 on the season, Oklahoma City has also failed to find a rhythm, so coach Scott Brooks was thrilled to see his starting five get on the same page, offensively and defensively.

“I thought the start was a big part of our win tonight,” Brooks said. “We’ve talked about this the last few days. We’re just starting to get in a defensive mindset.”

The offense also thrived for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook dropped in 19 points and Serge Ibaka added 17 of his own, while Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin also hit double figures with 15 points a piece.

The Thunder get a day of rest today, while the Raptors are back in action on the road against the Mavericks. Dallas has played well without the services of Dirk Nowitzki, so don’t expect the Raptors to pull the upset today.

Denver Nuggets 109 – Detroit Pistons 97

The Nuggets will look to establish some momentum after their first win

The Nuggets and the Pistons both came into Tuesday’s matchup without a win, but Denver ultimately prevailed, backed by strong performances from Andre Iguodala and Ty Lawson, who scored 17 and 15 points respectively.

“He was a presence everywhere, on every part of the court,” Danilo Gallinari said of Iguodala. “He’s great for us when he plays like that.”

Even in a loss, the Pistons got a solid effort from Greg Monroe, who scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Monroe also noted the positives in the loss.

“We showed a lot of fight,” Monroe said. “We have to push through. At that point, three minutes left, seven-point game, that’s definitely a winnable game. We have to find a way to win tight games like that.”

The Pistons will look to build off their last effort tonight on the road against the Kings. If they play like they did last night, I think they can pull it off, but look for the Kings to be slight favorites tonight.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets will try to make it two in a row against Houston. Unfortunately for them, the Rockets are playing extremely inspired ball and should be favored tonight as well. Look for the Rockets and new acquisition James Harden to stay hot.

 

Top 10 Rivalry Games Remaining

Such is the intense rivalry of the Iron Bowl, A.J. McCarron and Alabama will know that beating Auburn will be a tough task, regardless of what the Tigers' record might suggest.

Rather unsurprisingly, our focus here at CasinoReview has been well and truly aimed at the BCS National Championship race, which continues to offer intrigue and drama at every turn. But not everything revolves around the four sides that look to be in with a shot at the crystal football.

Fans across the nation, particularly those partisan to teams not at the top of the BCS rankings, are still looking forward to rivalry games. We all know that to many, a rivalry game is far more important than watching Alabama or Oregon make their way to Miami.

We’ve already seen Michigan take the Paul Bunyan Trophy from Michigan State for the first time in five years. We’ve watched as Oklahoma laid waste to Texas in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl. We’ve witnessed as Kansas State beat Kansas for the Governor’s Cup. We’ve even seen Utah State defeat Utah in the Battle of the Brothers for the first time in 13 years. And, of course, we saw Alabama defeat LSU in epic fashion last weekend.

But there’re still plenty of rivalries on the slate before we get to Bowl Season. No doubt we’ll be taking a closer look at some of these as we move towards December, but before then, here’s a look at the top rivalry games still to be played this season.

Editor’s Note: these games are listed in chronological order. We’re well aware of the impending backlash had we suggested that the Civil War was a bigger game than the Iron Bowl, or that the Territorial Cup was not as important as the Victory Bell.

USC @ UCLA (Nov. 17)

Southern California will face two of its biggest rivals in the final two weeks of the season. Notre Dame visits the Coliseum on the final day of the Pac-12 regular season, but before that, the Trojans head to Pasadena to take on the UCLA Bruins. Not only will the Victory Bell be up for grabs this season, but there’s also the small business of who will represent the South Division in the Pac-12 Championship game? The Bruins are currently ahead of USC in that race.

Arizona State @ Arizona (Nov. 23)

Starting Rivalry Week off early, the Duel in the Desert could have implications on the Pac-12 South if results go the right or wrong way, depending on your preference. The Wildcats will look to retain the Territorial Cup, while the Sun Devils will look to take the trophy for the second time in three years.

Washington @ Washington State (Nov. 23)

After a horrible season that has seen the Cougars win just two games so far, Washington State will look to make amends to its fans by bringing the Apple Cup home for the first time since 2008. The Huskies meanwhile will be hoping that their historical dominance of the game – Washington leads the all-time head-to-head 59-29-4 – carries over for another season.

Auburn @ Alabama (Nov. 24)

It doesn’t matter that the Auburn Tigers have won just two games (so far) this season and have yet to win a game in the SEC (so far), records get thrown out of the window when these two schools collide in the Iron Bowl. That could spell big trouble for Alabama, who will probably still be in search of an undefeated season by the time these two meet. Imagine how much Auburn would love to ruin that particular dream. This final week match-up – and one of the biggest rivalries in all of College Football – will get plenty of action from fans and bettors alike.

Florida @ Florida State (Nov. 24)

Bar a collapse by more teams that we care to imagine, neither Florida side will be thinking BCS Championship by this point in the season. Both however may be on their way to playing in a conference championship. Before that, the two will collide in Tallahassee, with bragging rights on the line. The Seminoles have taken the last two games, breaking Florida’s six-game win streak in the process.

Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (Nov. 24)

Having already beaten Texas in one huge rivalry this season, Oklahoma will be favored against their intrastate rivals when the two take to the field in Norman. The Sooners have historically made mincemeat out of the Cowboys and lead the head-to-head 74-17-7. But, with this being a rivalry game, anything can and will happen. Last year, Oklahoma State took the game 44-10, the Cowboys’ first win since 2002.

Oregon State @ Oregon (Nov. 24)

At this moment in time, Oregon has bigger things on its mind, but come the day of the Civil War, the Ducks will be focused on winning, regardless of whether their undefeated streak remains intact or not. As well as bragging rights, the lead in the Pac-12 North could also be on the line come late November, which adds a further layer of spice to the rivalry. The Beavers will have added incentive knowing that they have not beaten Oregon since December 2007.

South Carolina @ Clemson (Nov. 24)

Currently battling Florida State in both the BCS rankings and the ACC standings, Clemson may well be on its way to a conference championship when they host South Carolina. The Gamecocks are not quite out of the running in the SEC East, but probably will be by the time Hardee’s Trophy is on the line. Clemson’s last win over South Carolina came in 2008, the 100th installment of the rivalry.

Virginia Tech @ Virginia (Nov. 24)

Currently languishing at the bottom of the ACC’s Coastal Division, the duo of Virginia and Virginia Tech will have little reward this season other than the Commonwealth Cup. This will be a hugely important game for both sides then. The Hokies will likely enter this one as overwhelming favorites, thanks to an eight-game winning streak against the Cavaliers. Virginia last took home the Commonwealth Cup in 2003, its one win in 13 attempts.

Army Vs. Navy (Dec. 8 )

Finally, after all of the conference championships have been decided, and ahead of the Bowl season, it’ll be down to these two long-time rivals to finish off the regular season in style. The Army-Navy Game returns to Philadelphia this season following last year’s detour to Washington. The Army Black Knights trail the Navy Midshipman 56-49-7 in the all-time head-to-head, with Navy having taken the last 10 encounters.

 

Honorable Mentions

Of course, the list of rivalry games still to play far exceeds those we’ve mentioned above. To give you a little taster of what else is out there, here are our honorable mentions. These games might not have made the main list but they’re still worth watching, not to mention putting a few dollars on.

Notre Dame @ Boston College (Nov. 10)

Illinois @ Northwestern (Nov. 24)

Michigan @ Ohio State (Nov. 24)

Notre Dame @ USC (Nov. 24)

 

Come back on Thursday to read our list of the top ten games (non-rivalry related) still left to play.

NBA Opening Week Recap

The excitement of the NBA is back! After a busy and fun-filled offseason, the NBA tip-offed this last week and in case you missed what’s been going on, here are just a few of the major storylines that developed this week and a look at the teams who are starting off their 2012-2013 campaigns on fire.

New-Look Rockets 2-1, Harden Leading the Way

After executing a surprising blockbuster trade that brought James Harden to the Rockets right before the start of the season, Houston has gotten off to a hot 2-1 start. In just three games with his new team, Harden is averaging 35.3 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. With new faces Harden, and Jeremy Lin, the Rockets could make some serious noise in the Western Conference this season.

Same-Old Spurs, 4-0

Instead of looking to mix things up this offseason, the Spurs decided to keep their unit the same and for good reason. This is the franchise that has led the league in wins for the past two seasons and it’s no surprise that they have the best record in the NBA once again after the first week at 4-0. Look for the Spurs to be the favorite again in the Western Conference this season.

Brooklyn is very excited for its new franchise

Brooklyn Nets Make Debut

Hurricane Sandy delayed the Brooklyn Nets’ opening night game in the brand new Barclays Center, but the Nets still got off to a winning start, beating the Toronto Raptors in their first NBA game in Brooklyn. The New York borough hasn’t had a professional sports team since the Dodgers left in the 1950s, so people are understandably excited about their new squad. So far the Nets are 1-1 and will hope to compete in the tough Atlantic Division.

New York Knicks Off to Best Start Since 1999

The Nets may be the new kid on the block, but the Knicks are the talk of New York after week one. The Knicks are partying like its 1999, as they are off to their best start (3-0) in nearly 15 years. Not only have they been winning, but winning big, as they are outscoring their opponents by an average of nearly 20 points per game. Are the Knicks for real? It’s still a long season, but so far so good for New York.

Defending Champs Looking Good at 3-1

The Miami Heat began their title defense by whooping up on the Boston Celtics 120-107 and have gone 2-1 since for a 3-1 record after week one. Not bad, but interestingly they are not in first place in the Southeastern conference, as the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic are 2-0 on the year.

The Lakers are still trying to work out the kinks

Lakers Off to a Shaky 1-3 Start

Meanwhile, the team that Howard does play on now, the Lakers, got off to their worst start in 34 years after dropping their first three games of the season. The impressive offseason acquisitions of Howard and Steve Nash haven’t benefited LA as much as expected, as Nash has missed the last three games due to injury. The Lakers finally got their first win of the season on Sunday against the winless Raptors in a rout 108-79. Of course, with the amount of talent LA has, don’t expect them to stay down for long.