Season of Upsets Continues

With upsets continuing to come thick and fast, picking an eventual college basketball is proving tougher than anybody would have expected.

Penn State scored an unlikely upset victory over #4 Michigan Wednesday night, marking the second time in as many nights a team ranked inside the top four was defeated.

Michigan’s 84-78 loss came one night after #1 Indiana fell to Minnesota by a score of 77-73. Last week’s second ranked side, Miami (FL) also lost to Wake Forest at the weekend.

The Wolverines were not the only ranked side to be upset on Wednesday night. Over in the Pac-12, USC upset #11 Arizona 89-78, a defeat that will likely see an already sliding Wildcats side slide even further.

On Tuesday night, #8 Florida and #19 Memphis lost to Tennessee and Xavier respectively.

Such upsets have certainly become a part of the landscape in college basketball over the last four months.

So far this season, there have been 573 games in which a team ranked in the AP top 25 has faced an unranked opponent.

Of those 573 games, 103 have ended with the unranked team scoring the upset victory. That equates to 18 percent of the time.

Whilst 18 percent might not seem like a lot, consider that raw figure again. 103 unranked sides have knocked-off ranked teams. That’s quite an astounding number, especially when you look at it more closely.

103 might not seem as impressive if all of those losses were being handed to the lower ranked teams, but that’s not the case. Teams ranking between #21 and #25 account for just 17 losses, the fewest of any grouping (1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25). Furthermore, the team ranked #25 has lost three games, the same as teams ranked #1.

Granted, there is a slight disparity between higher and lower ranked sides when you spread the net a little further. Teams ranked in the top 10 have lost 36 games while teams ranked in the bottom 10 have lost 44 games. Still, the figures are fairly even.

For the record, the side ranked #19 has lost on nine occasions, the most of any position in the top 25. The current #19 Memphis was one of those teams, losing to Xavier on Tuesday.

The team ranked #13 has lost to an unranked side just once this season, which is good news for current #13 Kansas State.

The ranked teams that have struggled most against unranked opposition are Arizona, Creighton and Notre Dame, all of which have lost five games.

Creighton has fallen out of the AP rankings because of those losses, while Arizona has slipped from its highest perch at #3 down to #11 as a result. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has been in and out of the AP poll, which is more a testament to how tough the Big East is this season.

It’s worth pointing out at this point that #1 Indiana has lost four times this season to unranked opposition, and three times when ranked #1, including this past Tuesday.

The schools that have fared best against AP top 25 teams when unranked are Saint Louis and Wisconsin, both of which have scored four wins. Both have forced their way into the current standings as a result, and both have a shot at winning their conference.

This ‘Season of Upsets’ doesn’t end with unranked sides either.

So far this season there have been 59 games between schools both ranked in the AP top 25. While you might expect the higher seed to win the vast majority of the time, this certainly hasn’t been the case this season.

Of those 59 games, 31 have been won by the higher ranked side and 28 by the lower ranked team. This equates to a 53 percent winning percentage for higher ranked sides and a 47 percent winning percentage for lower ranked sides.

Let’s put this into perspective. Two alternate results in favor of the lower ranked school and you’d be as close to 50/50 as you could get. That means the lower ranked team has almost an equal chance of winning as the higher ranked side.

So what does all this mean going forward?

Although the rankings will alter this Monday, for the sake of argument let’s say things stay roughly the same in terms of the AP poll. That would mean we have a further 54 games left on the schedule that feature a ranked side against an unranked opponent and 10 games between two ranked schools.

If we apply our findings above to this schedule, we can expect approximately 10 of those 54 games to go to the unranked side. That means we could well see some more high-profiles losses over the next ten days.

In addition, five of those 10 games between ranked schools would go to the lower ranked side, which means we could be seeing a lot of movement in some of those conference standings (Big East, we’re looking at you).

Whilst some prognostications are far from scientific, the way this season has panned out so far, we certainly wouldn’t put money against there being (more than) one more twist in the tale.

With Duke hosting Miami at the weekend, the Big East compacted with contenders, and the Big Ten seemingly wishing to add more and more damage to itself, these next ten days are going to be unmissable.

2013 Alex Smith Prop Bets

Well, it’s official. Alex Smith will be headed to Kansas City on March 12, which is when the 49ers and Chiefs can execute the trade they’ve agreed to. So now, the question is how much better will the Chiefs be next season and how will Smith perform with his new squad?

As with any sports question, we can bet on it! Bovada.lv just released some nice Alex Smith prop bets, so we thought it would be fun to take a look at them and offer our take on how Mr. Smith fare in a Chiefs uniform next season. Here they are!

Total Regular Season Passing Yards – Over 3000 (-115), Under 3000 (-115)

Last season Smith threw for just over 1,700 yards, but of course he was benched for most of the second half of the season and he was with a team that focuses its offense on the running game and short passing game. With the Chiefs, he’ll likely get more of an opportunity to throw the ball downfield and he’ll get more opportunities to throw in general since he’ll be on a more pass-heavy squad and one that’s likely to be behind late in games and in need of big plays in the fourth quarter. Since he’ll be working under a weaker offensive line, Smith will probably not be as effective with Kansas City in terms of completions, but based on sheer attempts alone, he should break the 3,000 yard mark – as long as he stays healthy of course. Take the Over here.

Total Regular Season TD Passes – Over 18.5 (-115), Under 18.5 (-115)

The same logic applies to determining the over-under here. Considering Smith threw 13 touchdown strikes with the Niners last season, he should be able to throw much more with the Chiefs based on attempts. Also, since the Chiefs defense will likely be weak, the offense will get more opportunities to have the ball. However, the running game will also be weaker and not able to generate as many first downs for Smith to give him more scoring opportunities. This one is a bit of a toss-up, but I still like the Over here as well.

Total Regular Season Interceptions – Over 10.5 (-115), Under 10.5 (-115)

More attempts and more offensive possessions will likely lead to more total yards and touchdowns, but it will also likely lead to more interceptions. Smith only threw five picks a year ago, but he’ll easily be under a lot more pressure this season in more ways than one. Firstly, he’ll be more of the focal point of the offense and without a strong running game to rely on, defenses will be able to drop back in coverage and make more plays against him. Secondly, he’ll be under more pressure from rushers who will force him to make poorer decisions. So, at the end of the season, he’ll probably have thrown more than 10 and a half picks. Take the Over here too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Betting Tips: NBA Basketball

Jarrett Jack and the Golden State Warriors fell short against Indiana on Tuesday night. Expect more of the same as the team travels to New York on Wednesday.

With a 10-game NBA slate to choose from, bettors will have plenty of action laid out in front of them on Wednesday night.

Here at Casino Review we’ve filtered through those games and picked out three that should be well worth the watch, starting with what could be a shootout at Madison Square Garden.

 

Golden State Warriors @ New York Knicks

8:00 PM ET

New York (33-20, 20-8 home) will take to the court on Wednesday night knowing that a win is essential. Not only have the Knicks been passed by Indiana for the No. 2 playoff berth, the Manhattan side has also lost five of the last seven. Mike Woodson’s side will be hoping Sunday’s 99-93 win over Philadelphia is the start of a positive run.

New York isn’t the only side that needs to win either. Golden State (33-24, 15-17 road) fell to Indiana in a grueling encounter on Tuesday night, snapping a three game winning streak. The Warriors are 3-7 over the last 10, and have fallen further behind the likes of Denver and Memphis. If Mark Jackson’s side doesn’t pick things up, those playoff chances could start to slip.

The Warriors enter Madison Square Garden with a 15-6 record against Eastern Conference opponents this season. That’s certainly something for the Knicks to be worried about.

This Season: This is the first meeting between the sides this season. They’ll tangle again in Oakland on Mar.11.

Last Season: Despite a horrible season last year, the Warriors did manage to beat the Knicks in Madison Square Garden in the only game between the sides. The final score was 92-78.

Favorite: New York Spread: Total: 205½

Take: NEW YORK – With plenty of time to rest after Sunday’s home win over Philadelphia, New York has a huge advantage over the Warriors, who played just 24-hours earlier. However, Golden State (29-26-2 ATS) has fared better against the spread than New York (26-27-0 ATS), so take the Warriors to cover the 8½ points. Take the total to go over, a trend both teams have favored this season.

 

Milwaukee Bucks @ Houston Rockets

8:00 PM ET

With the Lakers still in the rearview mirror, Houston (31-27, 19-8 home) will be looking to gain ground over their star-studded Hollywood counterparts. A 105-103 loss in Washington on Saturday was not the type of result Kevin McHale and Co. was looking for. The side will hope to do better against the Bucks on Wednesday.

Losers of nine of the last 12, Milwaukee (27-28, 13-14 road) knows exactly how the Rockets feel. The slumping Bucks – currently holding onto the No. 8 berth in the East – are making plenty of cautious glances over the shoulder at a Toronto side on the rise. A 95-90 win in Dallas on Tuesday was the perfect way to start this tough Texas back-to-back.

Houston enters the game with some distinctive advantages. Not only are the Rockets very good at home, they’ve also compiled an 18-7 record against Eastern Conference opposition this season. Miami is the only team from the East to win at Toyota Center this season.

This Season: The Rockets defeated the Bucks 115-101 in Milwaukee on Jan. 4.

Last Season: Milwaukee defeated Houston 105-99 at the Toyota Center in the only game between the sides last year.

Favorite: Houston Spread: 7 Total: 219½

Take: HOUSTON – As patchy as the Rockets have been at times this season, the side is a far better choice than a Milwaukee side that has been deadweight of late. Add to that Houston’s fantastic home record against the East and you have a team ready to win. Take Houston (32-25-1 ATS) to cover the spread also. Although Houston (32-26-0) favors the over this season, take the total to go under as the Bucks struggle to score.

 

Atlanta Hawks @ Utah Jazz

9:00 PM ET

If, and we reiterate if, the Lakers do manage to put together a run, it might not be Houston that has to worry. Currently just one game in the loss column ahead of the Rockets, Utah (31-26, 21-7 home) could well be dragged into a fight for the final playoff berth. Two straight losses, including a 110-107 overtime loss to Boston on Monday, certainly haven’t helped the cause.

Atlanta (32-23, 14-13 road) meanwhile currently sits fifth in a tight-as-you-like Eastern Conference (at least from No. 2 downwards). A win over the Jazz on Wednesday could see the Hawks overtake the idle Nets into fourth.

The Hawks have won three straight and six of eight all told. More importantly, the side has won four straight on the road. Utah has won six of the last eight, and is 7-2 at home against Eastern Conference opponents this season. Only Chicago and Boston (this past Monday) have had success EnergySolutions Arena.

This Season: Atlanta scored a 103-95 home victory over the Jazz back on Jan. 11.

Last Season: The sides met just once in last season’s lockout-shortened campaign. The Hawks took a 139-133 victory at home, but it took four overtime periods to separate the two teams.

Favorite: Utah Spread: 5 Total: 198½

Take: UTAH – This is a close call but expect the Jazz to rebound from Monday’s loss and start turning that home court into a fortress again. Take the Jazz (17-11-0 ATS home) to cover with the total going over.

 

Wednesday’s NBA Schedule (in full)

Sacramento @ Orlando

Toronto @ Cleveland

Detroit @ Washington

Golden State @ New York

Dallas @ Memphis

Milwaukee @ Houston

New Orleans @ Oklahoma City

Phoenix @ San Antonio

Atlanta @ Utah

Denver @ Portland

Minnesota Knocks Off No. 1 Indiana

Indiana has become accustom to being the team with the biggest bullseye on its back as the No. 1 ranked squad for much of the season, but the Hoosiers also are starting to get used to being upset when they are top dog, as fell from their lofty perch once again, this time to an unranked conference rival.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers – considered by most experts to be a bubble team – convinced many skeptics of their worthiness for inclusion in the NCAA Tournament by beating the No. 1 team in the land on Tuesday night by a score of 77-73. The Gophers couldn’t match the Hoosiers in talent, but they out hustled one of the nation’s best teams and showed plenty of determination in what will certainly be a huge resume boosting win.

Trevor Mbakwe led the way for the Gophers with 21 points and 12 rebounds on a night where Minnesota dominated the glass and dominated the paint with 23 offensive rebounds, many of them belonging to Mbakwe.

“We did need to play with a sense of urgency, play with a little edge,” Gophers coach Tubby Smith said, via ESPN.com. “I think Trevor set that tone for us.”

Zeller was held in check by the Gophers

“We weren’t physical enough on the glass. That’s the bottom line,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.

Indiana’s man in the middle, Cody Zeller, was held to just nine points on the night and turned the ball over four times. The Gophers’ defense swarmed and flustered Zeller, but coach Crean is confident that he’ll bounce back with a strong performance in the team’s next outing.

“Cody’s certainly capable of a lot,” Crean said, “and I think he’ll bounce back just fine.”

The Hoosiers, who dropped to 24-4 on the season, shouldn’t have too much to worry about either. Yes, the loss cost them the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll, but they still have a one-game lead in the Big Ten Conference and will likely land a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in their final three games.

Meanwhile, the Gophers may have punched their ticket to tourney town with the win, but at 19-9 some will still consider Minnesota to be a bubble team. They don’t have any more ranked opponents on their final three-game schedule, but if they are able to win at least two of those games, it would be hard for pollsters to keep them out of the Big Dance.

So, now that Indiana has fallen, who will be No. 1 next week?

Obviously, there are still a few games this weekend that will have a large impact, but at the moment, it appears that the Gonzaga Bulldogs may jump up to the No. 1 spot for the first time in school history. Although, there is also a fairly good chance the Bulldogs could get leapfrogged by the Duke Blue Devils, who are currently in third position and who have a huge meeting with #5 Miami on Saturday. A win for Duke in that game could secure the top ranking for it.

We’ll have to see how the final few games play out, as well as the conference tournaments, but one thing we have learned this season is that no one is safe. There hasn’t been a real dominant team we can hang our hat on to win it all, but maybe that team will emerge in the coming weeks. Until then, be cautious with your future bets and look for the teams that are starting to get hot heading into March Madness.

 

This Week’s Unmissable College Hoops

Having suffered a first conference loss on Saturday, Miami faces a tough trip to Duke this coming weekend.

This season of college basketball continues to throw surprises at us from every direction. Last weekend alone we were railroaded by Miami’s first conference defeat and Georgetown’s Big East-topping win over Syracuse.

Monday night saw both #6 Kansas and #13 Kansas State take care of business in the Big 12, while #22 Marquette unexpectedly handed #12 Syracuse a second consecutive loss.

Here at Casino Review, we’ve scoured the remainder of this week’s schedule to pick out 10 of the most unmissable games out there. Our findings? This Saturday really is going to be a super Saturday.

Read on to find out which games you need to be following.

#7 Georgetown @ Connecticut (Wed)

If #7 Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) is to hold on to the Big East top spot it snatched this past weekend, John Thompson III’s side will need to handle a tough Connecticut (19-7, 9-5 Big East) team. Marquette served a notice of intent by defeating Syracuse on Monday night, so the Hoyas have to win to stay atop the conference.

San Diego State @ #14 New Mexico (Wed)

Having handed Colorado State a loss last weekend, #14 New Mexico (23-4, 10-2 MWC) controls its own destiny. Thanks to a tiebreaker advantage over the Rams, the Lobos need just two wins from four games to lock-up the Mountain West regular season title, and with MWC bottom-feeders Wyoming and Nevada on the schedule, that looks a dead cert. A win over San Diego State (20-7, 8-5 MWC) on Wednesday might not be essential, but it would go a long way in the eyes of the selection committee.

#2 Gonzaga @ Brigham Young (Thu)

Having leapt into second place on the AP poll, Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC) has just two games left to impress. A trip to Brigham Young (20-9, 9-5 WCC) represents the toughest remaining game on the schedule for the side from Spokane. The Cougars would like nothing more than to avenge an 83-63 loss on Jan. 24, putting a big dent in the Zags’ season in the process.

#5 Miami (FL) @ #3 Duke (Sat)

Undoubtedly the biggest game of the week, and one nobody is going to want to miss, takes place in Durham on Saturday. Having succumbed to a first conference loss of the season this past weekend, all eyes will be on #5 Miami (22-4, 13-1 ACC) and whether or not the side can rebound. The Hurricanes will get a first chance to do at home to Virginia Tech on Wednesday, before a trip to #3 Duke (24-3, 11-3 ACC) on Saturday. The Blue Devils will be looking to make amends for a 90-63 loss in Coral Gables, and with an unbeaten home record, could well make this year’s ACC race even more interesting.

#10 Louisville @ #12 Syracuse (Sat)

Back-to-back losses for #12 Syracuse (22-6, 10-5 Big East) all of a sudden has the Orange looking vulnerable. Louisville (22-5, 10-4 Big East) meanwhile is slowly ascending the Big East standings thanks to a favorable schedule. That schedule takes a turn for the wicked this weekend, beginning with this trip to the Carrier Dome and followed by home games against Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Winning on Saturday is essential for both schools.

#21 Notre Dame @ #22 Marquette (Sat)

Thanks to its streaky record this season, #21 Notre Dame (22-6, 10-5 Big East) needs wins to impress as well as climb the Big East ladder. The Irish has fared well of late but #22 Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East) has proved a tricky opponent. Whichever side loses will be out of the regular season picture and the road to a Big East title will be that much tougher.

Alabama @ #8 Florida (Sat)

#8 Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC) has been the class of the SEC this season but losses to Arkansas and Missouri means the conference is still there to be lost. After traveling to Tennessee on Tuesday, the Gators will host Alabama (18-9, 10-4 SEC) on Saturday. The Crimson Tide is currently two games back of Florida (and tied with Kentucky) so a win this weekend would be huge. In all likelihood, the regular season title will go to Florida, but with a trip to Kentucky still on the schedule, the Gators can’t afford to lose.

#11 Arizona @ UCLA (Sat)

A win for UCLA (20-7, 10-4 Pac-12) on Wednesday night against Arizona State would see the Bruins enter this game with an identical record to Arizona (23-4, 11-4 Pac-12). That record could be – depending on Oregon’s result against Oregon State on Friday – enough to top the Pac-12. Add to that the fact that the Bruins defeated the Wildcats 84-73 on Jan. 24 and you have the recipe for a game Arizona must not lose. If the Wildcats do drop this one, it’ll be tough to win the regular season title.

#20 Butler @ Virginia Commonwealth (Sat)

Losing to Saint Louis for a second time this season this past Friday was a huge blow for #20 Butler (22-6, 9-4 A10). Now the Bulldogs face a Virginia Commonwealth (22-6, 10-3 A10) side that, along with the Billikens, sits above them in the Atlantic 10 standings. A Butler loss on Saturday would be fatal.

#9 Michigan State @ #4 Michigan (Sun)

We have to wait until Sunday to enjoy the second biggest game of the week, when Michigan State (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten) travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten). Back-to-back losses to Indiana and Ohio State last week means the Spartans are only one-half game ahead of their bitter rivals, while Michigan has won two straight since falling to Michigan State. Michigan will need to avoid a slip-up against Penn State on Wednesday before taking to the court on Sunday. The Wolverines are unbeaten at home, which adds another dimension to this one. It’s not quite winner takes all, but it’s not far off.

 

Worth Keeping an Eye On

If we’ve learned nothing else this season, we’ve certainly learned that nothing can be taken for granted in college basketball. Here’s a choice selection of games that could prove interesting this week. Whilst we expect the ranked sides to come out of these games with the ‘W’, that upset bug could strike at any time.

  • #1 Indiana @ Minnesota (Tue)
  • #19 Memphis @ Xavier (Tue)
  • Wichita State @ Creighton (Sat)
  • #6 Kansas @ West Virginia (Sat)
  • #13 Kansas State @ Baylor (Sat)
  • #19 Memphis @ UCF (Sat)

Updated NHL Futures: Feb. 26

With most teams having played around 20 games so far this season, we are about 40 percent of the way through the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL campaign. As to be expected, not all of the futures odds favorites from the beginning of the season have panned out, while other contenders have emerged as the season has gone along. With less than 40 games remaining for many squads, it’s time to start making a move towards the postseason. Here is a closer look at a couple of the Stanley Cup favorites at this point in the season, as well as valuable dark horse pick.

Favorites – Chicago Blackhawks – 5/1

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten off to the best season start in NHL history, so naturally they have zipped up the futures charts to the top spot at 5/1 odds. After amassing 35 points in just 19 games with a 16-0-3 record, the Blackhawks are certainly the team to beat right now and they’ll likely be very popular in the futures wagers. The fact is they are one of the league’s best teams, but they are also hot right now and no one can expect them to keep this up all year. The real task will be maintaining this level of play come playoff time. It’s safe to say they have overachieved so far, but I would wait to take this bet until they are tested by some losses. The way in which they bounce back and respond to defeat will be more of a indication of their title worthiness.

Favorites – Pittsburgh Penguins – 15/2

The Penguins began the season as the odds-on favorite to win the 2013 Stanley Cup and they haven’t dropped far from that perch, as they currently stand as the No. 2 team on the list at 15/2. The Penguins are among the points leaders in the Eastern Conference, proving they deserved the preseason hype with a 13-6-0 record so far this season.

The Penguins are pacing themselves, but of course the biggest thing they have going for them is their talented roster, which is the reason they have been so highly-touted all year long. When you have Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury all playing well, you can beat just about any team on any given night. Bottom line: The Penguins are still a strong pick at 15/2 odds.

Dark Horse – Nashville Predators – 33/1 

The Predators are in an ugly slump over their last few games, but they have one of the best defenses and goaltending teams in the league and as we all know, it doesn’t matter what sport you are in, defense wins championships. The Predators are giving up around two goals per game, so as long as they keep that up and begin to see a little more production on the offensive end, they could climb up the standings and secure a good playoff spot at the end of the year. Despite only scoring around two goals per game, the Preds have managed to go 9-6-5 this season. A little good fortune, and they could be a top contender out West. Plus, you are getting great value for this club at 33/1.

Here is a look at the rest of the Futures Odds, courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Chicago Blackhawks
5/1
Pittsburgh Penguins
15/2
Boston Bruins
10/1
St. Louis Blues
10/1
Vancouver Canucks
10/1
Anaheim Ducks
12/1
New York Rangers
16/1
Montreal Canadiens
20/1
San Jose Sharks
20/1
Los Angeles Kings
22/1
New Jersey Devils
22/1
Carolina Hurricanes
25/1
Minnesota Wild
25/1
Detroit Red Wings
30/1
Toronto Maple Leafs
30/1
Edmonton Oilers
33/1
Nashville Predators
33/1
Ottawa Senators
33/1
Philadelphia Flyers
33/1
Tampa Bay Lightning
33/1
Dallas Stars
40/1
Phoenix Coyotes
50/1
Washington Capitals
50/1
Winnipeg Jets
66/1
Calgary Flames
75/1
New York Islanders
75/1
Buffalo Sabres
100/1
Colorado Avalanche
100/1
Florida Panthers
150/1
Columbus Blue Jackets
250/1

 

Indiana Tops New AP Poll, Gonzaga #2

Another week has come and gone in the NCAA men’s hoops regular season and although there was some shuffling near the top of the rankings, Indiana stayed steady at the top spot. While the Hoosiers have maintained the No. 1 ranking for more weeks than any other team in the country, the Gonzaga Bulldogs crept a little closer to mighty Indiana, climbing up to the No. 2 spot, which is the highest Gonzaga has ever been ranked in its school’s history.

The Hoosiers nabbed the nearly unanimous weekly selection by knocking off Big Ten rival Michigan State on the road on Tuesday by a score of 72-68. Indiana guard Victor Oladipo led the way for his team with 19 points, including the game’s final six and he did all of this on an injured ankle.

“I was probably 85-90 but plus the adrenalin and the fans it got me to 100 percent,” Oladipo said, via USA Today.

Even after badly injuring the ankle a week ago against Purdue, which caused him to leave the game, Oladipo was not going to miss playing in what was perhaps the biggest regular season game of his career against a fifth ranked Spartans squad.

“You would have had to have killed me in order for me to have missed this game,” Oladipo said.

The win marked the first for Indiana at Michigan State since 1991. They had lost their last 17 games at the Breslin Center, but this year’s team has proven to be a group of true road Warriors, as the Hoosiers have won six of seven on the road this season and have gone 6-0 against ranked opponents.

Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs of Gonzaga continued to dominate opponents this week and with the help of a Miami upset loss, they were able to rise to the No. 2 spot in the AP Poll for the first time ever. Now the Zags have their sights on that No. 1 spot as they look to finish the season strong.

Gonzaga is now 27-2 on the season and are winners of ten games in a row. Their 81-50 victory against San Diego on Saturday also clinched at least a share of the WCC title, which makes 12 conference titles in 13 years for the Zags. They lost the conference championship to Saint Mary’s last year after owning it 11 years in a row.

We know where these teams rank in the AP Poll, but where do they stand in the NCAA Tournament futures odds? Currently Bovada.lv has the Hoosiers at No. 1 there too with 9/2 odds to take home the championship, while the Bulldogs slide in at the six spot with 9/1 odds.

Most bettors and odds makers have given the Hoosiers the best chance to win the title all year and with the wealth of talent and experience they have, we can see why. The Hoosiers are certainly deserving of their ranking and their odds, but when it comes to the Bulldogs, things are a little more iffy. Gonzaga’s only two losses have come against top 15 ranked teams, but those are the only games against top 15s that the Zags have played. Their biggest win of the season came against #22 Oklahoma State, which is their only win against a ranked team all year.

This past week Indiana proved it can hang with and beat the best teams in the country, while Gonzaga has yet to prove the same. For now, I would stay away from the Zags at 9/2, but consider the Hoosiers at 9/1 a pretty lucrative looking wager.

 

Monday Betting Tips: NHL Hockey

Kyle Turris and the Ottawa Senators look good to score an upset over the Eastern Conference-leading Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

To get your week started with a bang, Casino Review has picked out three gems on Monday’s NHL schedule for you to digest before laying down some cash.

Here’s the shocker: Chicago’s game against Edmonton doesn’t intrigue us tonight. We think Chicago will continue its history-making run of points-scoring against the lowly Oilers. Forget that game, we’ve got three that are bound to be barn-burners with upset potential galore.

We start with a Philadelphia side looking to edge up into the playoff hunt.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Philadelphia Flyers

7:00 PM ET

With three wins in four games, Philadelphia (9-10-1, 5-2-1 home) has inched towards the playoff berths in the Eastern Conference. Entering play on Monday, the Flyers are tied with eighth-place Tampa Bay on 19 points. A win over the Leafs, or even a tie, will be enough to move above.

Toronto (11-8-0, 7-4-0 road) meanwhile unexpectedly has the seventh spot, but recent form has betrayed the team. Having won six of seven, Toronto has dropped two from three since. With the race in the East poised to be a tight one this year, the Leafs can’t afford to lose any more.

Both sides took to the ice on Saturday, with Philadelphia picking up a 5-3 home win against Winnipeg while Toronto fell 3-2 on the road in Ottawa.

This Season: Toronto defeated Philadelphia 5-2 at home on Feb. 11.

Last Season: Philadelphia swept the season series 4-0.

Moneyline: Toronto (+119), Philadelphia (-131) Total:

Take: PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers have begun playing like the team we expected this season, and with just two home losses this season, the favored Flyers look good in this one. Philadelphia (10-9-1) has favored the over while Toronto (6-11-2) has favored the under. The Flyers have averaged 4.8 goals per game over the last six, so take the over.

 

Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators

7:30 PM ET

Both the Canadiens and Senators are looking good of late. Montreal (12-4-2, 4-1-1 road) has won six of the last seven games, with that one loss coming in overtime. The side has won three straight on the road. Michael Therrien’s side has risen to the top of the Eastern Conference in the process.

Meanwhile, Ottawa (11-6-2, 8-1-2 home) has won four straight in total and four straight at home, moving into sixth place in the East. A win or tie on Monday would see the Senators moving into fourth place.

Montreal handed the highly-touted New York Rangers a 3-0 shutout at Centre Bell on Saturday, while Ottawa dismissed Toronto 3-2 at Scotiabank Place.

This Season: Ottawa scored a 5-1 home win over the Canadiens on Jan. 30 while Montreal picked up a 2-1 home win on Feb. 3.

Last Season: Montreal won the season series 4-2 with both losses coming after regulation. The Canadiens went 2-1 when playing in Ottawa.

Moneyline: Montreal (-121), Ottawa (+110) Total: 5

Take: OTTAWA – The Canadiens may be favored but the Senators have been impressive at home this season. Take Ottawa to score the upset win. Both teams trend towards the under and Ottawa hasn’t seen more than five goals in a game in five straight. The under is the smart bet here then.

 

Anaheim Ducks @ Los Angeles Kings

10:30 PM ET

With 11 of the first 15 games on the road, Los Angeles (8-6-2, 3-1-1 home) could have asked for a better start. The Kings scored a 4-1 win over Colorado on Saturday though, beginning a streak of seven of eight games at home positively.

With three straight wins and five from the last six, the Kings are starting to look a bit more like the side that won the Stanley Cup last season. They’re also just one point out of the playoff berths.

Anaheim (13-2-1, 7-1-1 road) has started the season hot. Winners of 13 games – including six straight and 10 of the last 11 – the Ducks would be the talk of the league were it not for Chicago’s extraordinary run of form. Not that you’ll hear the side complaining.

Anaheim is all about getting the job done, and the side need only look back to early February to see how beating the Kings can be achieved.

This Season: Anaheim defeated Los Angeles 7-4 at home on Feb. 2.

Last Season: Los Angeles took five of six games against the Ducks last season, including a pair of shootout wins. The Kings won all three games at the Honda Center.

Moneyline: Anaheim (+142), Los Angeles (-142) Total: 5

Take: ANAHEIM – While the Kings are returning to form, the Ducks continue to steamroll on. Look for Anaheim to take it to the Kings and score the win. The Ducks are the third leading scorers in the league (3.3 goals per game) but have only seen the total go over in four games this year. Meanwhile, Los Angeles has also favored the under, so take the under in this one.

 

Tuesday’s NHL Schedule (in full)

Toronto @ Philadelphia

Montreal @ Ottawa

Dallas @ Nashville

Edmonton @ Chicago

Anaheim @ Los Angeles

Sunday NBA Quick Picks: Feb. 24

With around 25 games remaining in the regular season, the playoff pressure is beginning to ramp up for some NBA squads, while others (ahem, the Heat) are starting to show their dominance. We’ll see all of that and more on display today as the Association has a juicy nine-game slate for us to sink our teeth into. Here are our quick picks for eight of the nine games in the NBA today.

Los Angeles Lakers +3 at Dallas Mavericks -3

It’s no secret. The Lakers have been the biggest disappointment of 2012-2013, but they are playing better lately. They’ve won seven of their last 10 games, including the last two. The teams have split the season series so far, going 1-1 against one another, but with the Mavs at home and also playing well (three-game win streak). I like Dallas to take this one, covering -3.

Golden State Warriors -1.5 at Minnesota Timberwolves +1.5

The Warriors hit a rough patch in recent weeks, but they are starting to get back on track, as they’ve won their last two games. Meanwhile, the T-Wolves continue to struggle without their star Kevin Love. Take the Warriors to cover -1.5 and win on the road today.

Sacramento Kings +6 at New Orleans Hornets -6

Considering the Hornets have been worse at home than on the road and considering both teams are on losing streaks entering tonight’s game and each have the exact same record, this one is a toss-up. For that reason, take the Kings to cover +6.

Cleveland Cavaliers +13 at Miami Heat -13

With the Heat playing their finest basketball of the season, they are getting a huge spread against the struggling Cavaliers. The Heat have won 10 straight and there’s no question they should defeat the Cavs on their home floor, but I just hate these huge spreads. All the Cavs need to do is play halfway decent and they will cover this spread, even on the road. The Heat will win, but it’s safer to take Cleveland to cover +13.

San Antonio Spurs -9.5 at Phoenix Suns +9.5

The Spurs are also getting a large spread and will be on the road today, where they have only been half as strong – 22-11 compared to 22-2 at home. The Suns are certainly struggling as losers of eight of their last 10, but they should be able to cover +9.5 today in the loss.

Boston Celtics +2 at Portland Trail Blazers -2

Despite dropping their last seven games, the Blazers are getting two points at home against a Celtics team that has played well recently, winning seven of their last 10 games. Even though the Celtics have been atrocious on the road, I can’t go against the recent trend here. Portland will break out of its funk, but no tonight. Go Boston to cover +2 in the win.

Chicago Bulls +9 at Oklahoma City Thunder -9

Both teams have struggled a bit recently, but the Thunder are getting nice odds to win at home, where they are 24-4 this season. There’s little doubt that they will do it, but Chicago is too good defensively to get blown away, even by the Thunder. Take Chicago to cover +9 in the loss.

Philadelphia 76ers +10.5 at New York Knicks -10.5

Both teams are coming into this game on four-game losing streaks, so it’s hard to imagine liking the Knicks by more than a few points against anyone right now. Play this one safe and take the Sixers to cover +10.5 on the road.

 

 

 

 

 

Spartans Visit Buckeyes in Big Ten Showdown

Keith Appling and the Michigan State Spartans will look to rebound from a midweek loss to Indiana with a trip to Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.

#4 Michigan State travels to Columbus on Sunday to take on #18 Ohio State in a must win game for both schools. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 PM ET from Value City Arena.

Michigan State’s 72-68 loss at home to #1 Indiana on Tuesday leaves the Spartans one game back of the Hoosiers at the top of the Big Ten standings. With a season sweep of the East Lansing side, Indiana holds a decisive tie-breaker.

A win over Minnesota on Wednesday put an end to a streak of three losses in four games for Ohio State, but that downturn now has the Buckeyes looking up at four other Big Ten schools. In danger of being swallowed into the mid-level tournament berths, Ohio State needs to put together some wins to improve its standing.

The two schools met on Jan. 19 at Breslin Center in East Lansing, with the Spartans scoring a 59-56 win.

Last season, the two sides split a pair of regular season games, each winning on the other’s home court. Michigan State earned the last laugh though, defeating Ohio State 68-64 in the Big Ten championship game.

Since 1979-80, Michigan State leads the head-to-head series 37-26.

Ohio State (14-2 home) enters the game favored over Michigan State (6-3 road). The Buckeyes however have fared poorly against teams ranked in the AP top 25, going 1-7 in such games. The school’s only win against a ranked opponent came on Jan. 13, against the Spartans’ bitter rival, Michigan. Michigan State has gone 4-4 against ranked opponents this season.

The spread opened at 4½ points. Neither school has been particularly good at covering the spread this season, which will make things that much more awkward for bettors trying to separate these sides.

Ohio State is 13-11-0 ATS all told this season, with a 9-6-0 ATS record at Value City Arena and a 11-9-0 ATS record when entering  the game as the favorite.

Michigan State is 11-12-1 ATS in all games this season, with a 5-5-1 ATS record on the road and a 4-2-0 ATS record as the underdog.

The total opened at 129. Like the spread, bettors will have a tough time picking over or under in this one. Ohio State (10-12-1) favors the under while Michigan State (12-11-0) favors the over. Neither is particularly decisive though.

After Sunday’s game at Ohio State, Michigan State will have three games left on the schedule: a trip to Michigan (Mar. 3) followed by home games against Wisconsin (Mar. 7) and Northwestern (Mar. 10).

Meanwhile, Indiana still has four games on the schedule. The Hoosiers will face Minnesota (Feb. 26) and Michigan (Mar. 10) on the road, and Iowa (Mar. 2) and Ohio State (Mar. 5) at home.

It’ll be a tall task for the Spartans to overtake the Hoosiers to finish with the top berth heading into the Big Ten tournament, but it’s not yet impossible. One thing is for sure; the Spartans need to win in Columbus on Sunday afternoon.

 

In Brief…

The Spartans’ rivals, #7 Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) will also look to improve its position in the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines will face a resurgent Illinois (20-8, 7-7 Big Ten) side that has won five straight games, ending a dreadful streak of six losses in seven games. The hometown Wolverines are favorites (-11) with the total at 138.

With #2 Miami (FL) suffering its first conference loss of the season on Saturday, #6 Duke (23-3, 10-3 ACC) can sneak one game closer to the Hurricanes at the top of the ACC standings with a win over lowly Boston College (12-14, 4-9 ACC) on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils bounced back from last weekend’s loss to Maryland with a 88-56 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday and will enter this one as the favorite (-16½).

With a win over #8 Syracuse on Saturday and #17 Marquette slipping up against Villanova, #11 Georgetown is now in sole possession of the Big East lead. At two games back, #25 Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East) will look to make up some ground as the Irish hosts Cincinnati (19-8, 7-7 Big East), losers of four of the last five. The Irish is a one-point favorite in this one, with the total at 124.

#20 Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6 Big East) will also be looking to make up ground in the conference. With two losses in a row, the Panthers are in danger of losing their AP status, so a win over St. John’s (16-10, 8-6 Big East) is essential at lunchtime on Sunday. Pittsburgh is the favorite (-7) with the total at 124½.

 

Saturday’s AP Top 25 Results

#2 Miami (FL) 65, Wake Forest 80

San Diego 50, #3 Gonzaga 81

Arkansas 54, #5 Florida 71

#11 Georgetown 57, #8 Syracuse 46

TCU 48, #9 Kansas 74

Seton Hall 61, #10 Louisville 79

Washington State 56, #12 Arizona 73

#13 Kansas State 81, Texas 69

#14 Oklahoma State 73, West Virginia 57

#16 New Mexico 91, #22 Colorado State 82

#17 Marquette 56, Villanova 60

Southern Miss 73, #21 Memphis 89

Stanford 66, #23 Oregon 77

#24 Virginia Commonwealth 75, Xavier 71

 

Sunday’s AP Top 25 Schedule

#4 Michigan State @ #18 Ohio State

Boston [email protected] #6 Duke

Illinois @ #7 Michigan

#20 Pittsburgh @ St. John’s

Cincinnati @ #25 Notre Dame