Odds to Win the 2014 Pac-12 South Division

Hundley
Hundley
I expect Brett Hundley and the UCLA Bruins to capture the Pac-12 South.

On Wednesday I gave you the Pac-12 North odds and who I liked to win it. Today, I’m presenting the Pac-12 South which I believe is a four-horse race.

UCLA 5/4 – Jim Mora, Jr. enters his third year in Los Angeles and brings with him high expectations coming off a very nice 10-3 record. Nine starters return on offense while the defense returns eight. Dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley returns to lead the offense as does Freshman of the Year Myles Jack who plays on both sides of the ball. The only scary road trips are against Texas in Arlington and at Arizona State. The Bruins get USC and Stanford at home to finish the season. Another 10-win season is very possible.

USC 7/4 – It’s year of Steve Sarkisian and expectations are high. Cody Kessler is one of seven starters who return on offense and he has already been named the starter at QB. Seven starters also return on defense which bodes well for a team facing a tough start to the season. The Trojans get always tough Fresno State at home before traveling to Stanford and then across the country to Boston College. Trips to Arizona and UCLA also await. SC does get Notre Dame, Arizona State and Oregon State at home. I think eight wins is the number but some will expect higher.

Graham
Todd Graham's Sun Devils could repeat with some big road wins in 2014.

Arizona State 3 /1 – Todd Graham has a very nice 18-9 record in two years at ASU but the real test begins as the Sun Devils return just two starters on defense and only six on the offensive side of the ball. I like the job he has done since leaving Pitt in the middle of the night, but the chances of repeating as South Division champs are going to be very difficult. The schedule is brutal in my opinion with trips to USC, Washington, Oregon State and Arizona. The home schedule isn’t much better with Notre Dame, UCLA and Stanford coming to Tempe. A step back is highly possible in 2014 but there is a lot of talent on the roster too.

Arizona 10/1 – Rich Rodriguez enters year three in the desert and comes off an 8-5 record and a bowl victory. Last year’s Wildcats surprised a few teams like Oregon and USC but lost to a few schools they probably shouldn’t have. Seven starters return on offense and six on the defense which was beaten up in conference play. The schedule features only two road games of note; at Oregon and at UCLA. The other three should provide wins. At home, the Wildcats get USC, Washington and Arizona State. I expect another eight win season in Tucson.

Utah 33/1 – Kyle Whittingham has a really strong 75-39 overall record entering his tenth season in the Beehive State. Six starters return on both sides of the ball as the Utes look to make a splash in the Pac-12 South. Utah faces a tough road schedule with trips to Michigan, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford. I think the goal here for Whittingham and company is to get back to .500 and a bowl game but that road schedule worries me.

Colorado 50/1 – In year one, Mike McIntyre went just 4-8 but he gets eight starters back on both sides of the ball. The Buffaloes’ defense surrendered over 40 points in seven of their eight losses and three times gave up over 50. Colorado has just four road games and the neutral site rivalry game against Colorado State in Denver. Three of those four are brutal though as they travel to Oregon, Arizona and USC. I think six wins is the goal here and I think it’s very workable as well.

The Pick: Toss out Colorado and Utah right now as they just don’t have the horses. The wild-cards are the schools in the desert and the favorites are the schools from LA. I like the Bruins to take the Pac-12 South in 2014.

NCAA Tournament Starts With Typcial Flare

Flyers
Flyers
Dayton scored the very first upset of the tournament with a win over Ohio State.

It was the very first game of the day. The 12:15pm tip from the South Regional in Buffalo featured the Ohio State Buckeyes and a team from within Ohio as well in the Dayton Flyers. It did not disappoint.

The Flyers pulled out a 60-59 victory in dramatic fashion as they scored with about four seconds remaining and then had to survive an Aaron Craft drive to the hoop where his desperation shot failed. This was only the second time in eleven trips to the tournament that Thad Matta and the Buckeyes exited in the first (NCAA calls it second) round.

While there was no joy in Columbus, this was the perfect start to another NCAA Tournament.

Amaker
Tommay Amaker and Harvard pulled a first round upset for the second straight year.

It didn’t stop there though as we got our first 12 vs. 5 upset in the very first of those four games. 12-seed Harvard upset fifth seeded Cincinnati 61-57 to advance. This outcome was not overly surprising to many because the Crimson entered with tournament experience and have a seasoned, veteran coach in Tommy Amaker.

How rare is it to see Harvard in the NCAA Tournament? Put it this way, Harvard has seen more graduates go on to become president of the United States than they have seen go on the National Basketball Association.

Also in usual day one fashion, we saw a number one seed flirt with disaster. The Florida Gators got all they could handle from Albany before finally pulling away and winning 67-55. As you know, there has never been a number one seed that has gone down to a 16-seed and it appears that we aren’t going to see it here either.

The rest of the early action featured massive blowouts including Pitt’s huge win over Colorado by the score of 77-48. This was an 8-9 match-up and these are typically supposed to be among the most even games. This was so bad that at one point, the Panthers only outscored the Buffaloes 31-30 in the second half. That means the halftime score was 46-18.

That my friends is ugly.

Not to be outdone was Wisconsin. The Badgers found themselves down early in the game to American who appeared to be quite ready for the aggressive Badgers. Wisconsin took advantage of the home crowd in Milwaukee and blitzed the Eagles 43-13 in the second half to win 75-35. If Wisconsin can play defensively this way throughout the tourney then they have as good of a shot as anyone.

The competition will ramp up significantly however.

Looking Ahead to Today

I love the Nebraska-Baylor Match-up. This features the 11th seeded Huskers and the sixth-seeded Bears. Baylor really picked things up towards the end of the season while Nebraska pushed all of the top teams in the Big Ten. I expect this game to much closer than some expect.

Eighth seeded Gonzaga takes on ninth seed Oklahoma State and believe you’ll see a much more competitive game than the Pitt-Colorado eight-nine game. Many people think the Cowboys have Final Four talent while this ‘Zags team has flown under the radar compared to more recent teams.

Although there’s already been a 12-5 upset, there could be another one in the works for today. Stephen F. Austin has not lost a game since November and goes up against fifth seeded VCU. This isn’t one of Shaka Smart’s best teams but it’s still a very good one. That said, I really like how SFA plays. They are very deliberate offensively and play very well on the defensive end as well.

Big Ten, Pac-12 and More in My Weekly CFB Picks

Mariota
Mariota
Mariota's Ducks are huge favorites against Colorado today.

Season Record 8-12-1, Last Week 2-1-1

Oregon (-39.5) at Colorado – “He’s calling a game with a spread of almost 40 points?” You’re darn right I am and I feel good about it too. The first thing I noticed about Oregon in terms of trends was that the total has gone OVER in seven of the Ducks’ last ten games and six of their last seven on the road. Bottom line? The Ducks have proven they can score at will.

The Buffs are 2-1 but their wins came against Colorado State and Central Arkansas with their loss being a whipping by Oregon State in Corvallis. This is an improved Colorado team compared to recent years but I cannot see this team hanging with the Ducks unless an early snowstorm hits the Rockies.

Take the Ducks to cover even at that ridiculous number.

Western Michigan (+22) at Toledo – I don’t believe in the concept of ‘it’s a sure thing’ but this is about as close as it can get. Toledo is 2-3 but has losses against Florida and Missouri and both came on the road. While those games ended in defeats, they were far from blowouts as the Rockets held tough throughout.

Western Michigan is 0-5 with a loss at home to FBS Nicholls State. They also dropped hard-fought games against Michigan State and Northwestern but then were destroyed by Iowa in Iowa City two weeks ago by 56 points. This Broncos team is incredibly young and has injuries in tough spots.

The Rockets boast one of the nation’s top rushers in David Fluellen and are playing at home in the Glass Bowl where they rarely lose. WMU is 3-8 against the spread in their last 11 road games. Take the Rockets to win by more than 22.

Edsall
Maryland's Randy Edsall has himself off the hot seat with a 4-0 start.

Maryland (+16.5) at Florida State – The Terps are the first ranked team the Seminoles will face in 2013 which is why they are averaging over 51 points per game through four games. FSU looked pretty mortal for awhile last Saturday in Chestnut Hill as they fell behind early by double-digits to Boston College. Once they woke up, they went on to defeat the Eagles 48-34.

Maryland has not played a ranked team either en route to having the nation’s third best scoring defense. They also run the ball very well ranking 24th in the country. They are however, 2-5-1 against the spread in their last eight games in Tallahassee. I think last week was a bit of a wake-up call for Florida State and I expect a big-time effort against the Terps. Take FSU to cover that spread.

Ohio State (-7) at Northwestern – This game is being called the biggest one at Northwestern since at the very least their Rose Bowl year of 1995. A win over unbeaten Ohio State would vault them into the favorites’ role for the Big Ten title. The problem for the Wildcats is that Ryan Field will have as much scarlet and gray in it as it will purple. The Buckeyes travel well and the Wildcats rarely sell out.

With that said, Northwestern has the ability to hang with Ohio State but I believe they must do what Wisconsin couldn’t last week in Columbus and that’s get out early against the Buckeyes. The Wildcats can’t afford to get behind because they cannot become one-dimensional.

Northwestern is 1-4 against the spread in their last four games at home against OSU. That doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats and I think the depth of the Buckeyes will prove too much. I like Ohio State to cover the spread.

 

Is Chicago Becoming One of Those ‘Teams of Destiny?’

Patrick Kane

 

Patrick Kane
Kane's heroics saved Chicago's streak on Sunday

The Chicago Blackhawks are having one of ‘those’ seasons in the National Hockey League where seemingly everything goes their way. Dating back to last season, the ‘Hawks have now scored at least one point in 28 consecutive games and have done for 22 straight to start this season.

Those’ seasons I’m referring to are ones that only a handful of teams in professional and collegiate sports have. The Detroit Tigers in 1984 started 35-5 and you just had a feeling it would end magically. Most of you can recall the 72-win Chicago Bulls who never looked back all season and of course in football you have teams like the 1985 Bears who despite one loss were destined for greatness.

These current Chicago Blackhawks appear to be another one of those teams that just seem destined for bigger and better things.

 

Jimmy Howard
Howard was exceptional in goal for the Wings despite being bested by the Blackhawks.

Sunday afternoon they finally appeared to have reached their Waterloo. Tied at 0-0 in the middle of the 3rd period, the Red Wings scored on Tomas Tatar’s goal which looked insurmountable with the way goalie Jimmy Howard was playing. As is usual with good teams playing well, the breaks sometimes happen for them and Chicago got a huge one with less than 3 minutes left when the Wings Jonathan Ericsson flipped a puck into the stands from his own end while attempting to clear it. That’s two-minutes for delay of game and within just a few seconds the Hawks’ had a game-tying goal on the power play from Patrick Kane.

It was a bone-headed move to say the least by Ericsson to say the least. You just can’t give any team, let alone the hottest in hockey a power play in the closing minutes of a one goal game. Obviously, the Blackhawks will gladly take it.

The teams headed to a shootout where Kane again struck but this time with a game-winning wrister past Howard. And the streak lived on…

I can’t say the Blackhawks are a shoo-in to be a Cup winner or even finalist in this lockout-shortened season but Sunday was just another example of how they find ways to gain not only points but victories as well. Chicago has all the makings of being one of ‘those’ teams.

Games this week for your wagering enjoyment

Colorado at Detroit – Once one of the great rivalries in hockey, this one has lost some luster but the significance of this game is no less important. The Wings are in the eight spot with 24 points. The Avs are in the 13th spot just four points behind Detroit. Get the picture? Colorado has just two wins on the road. Take the Wings.

Minnesota at Chicago – The Wild are one of five times deadlocked with 24 points. That’s good for 6th in the Western Conference right now. Chicago returns to the ice for the first time since beating Detroit. Until proven otherwise, go with Chicago who is 9-0-1 at home.

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia – Wish I knew what Dan Bylsma was doing with his goalies. Seems to me that Marc-Andre Fleury is not in goal enough for the Pens. Philly is currently 8th in the East and has to play a Penguins team that has nine road wins. It’s a great rivalry, but take Pittsburgh on the road.

Buffalo at New Jersey – As of this writing, the Devils have dropped four in a row but is still sitting in the 7th spot in the East. Buffalo is out of playoff contention at the current time and has already made a coaching change. I have to think New Jersey rights the ship in this one.

 

Rivalry Week in College Football: Friday Games

LSU will look to hoist the Golden Boot for the second consecutive season Friday as it takes on Arkansas.

Welcome to Rivalry Week!

Once you’re done with the turkey, stuffing and NFL games, get ready for an absolute doozy of a week in College Football. As well National Championship implications, Week 13 is home to no fewer than 19 rivalry games, any of which could see an upset victory for an upstart team.

To get you in the mood, CasinoReview brings you an overview of those games that will take place on Friday night. Once you’re done here, be sure to come back on Friday for some College Football betting tips, before we take a closer look at those Saturday rivalry games on, well, Saturday.

 

Arizona State @ #24 Arizona (“Duel in the Desert”)

After a solid start to the season from both schools, #24 Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) and Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) have fallen off the pace as conference play has taken a hold of the schedule. Now the only thing to separate the two will be this matchup. The Wildcats will look to lift the Territorial Cup for a second consecutive season.

Favorite: Arizona Spread: 3 Total: 68.5

 

#7 LSU @ Arkansas

Not only will #7 LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) look to take home the Golden Boot on Friday night, but a win will keep the school’s slim hopes of a place in the SEC Championship Game alive. The Tigers will need a win from Texas A&M and a loss for Alabama. Meanwhile, Arkansas (4-7, 2-5 SEC) will look to wind up a (very) disappointing season by playing spoiler.

Favorite: LSU Spread: 13.5 Total: 51

 

Utah @ Colorado (“Rumble in the Rockies”)

Colorado (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) has had a season to forget (to say the least) but a win over rival Utah (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) would at least be something to smile about as the season comes to a close, particularly as the Buffaloes also lost to Colorado State to open the season. Utah haven’t fared much better this season. The Utes are 1-1 in rivalry games this season, having lost to Utah State and beaten BYU early in the season.

Favorite: Utah Spread: 23 Total: 53

 

#14 Nebraska @ Iowa

Not only is the Heroes Trophy on the line but so are Nebraska’s (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) hopes of going to the Big Ten Championship Game next weekend. A win over the Hawkeyes will book the Cornhuskers’ place. A loss, coupled with a Michigan win, will prematurely end Nebraska’s season. Meanwhile, Iowa (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten) will look to break the Cornhuskers’ four-game winning streak in the head-to-head as well as a five-game losing streak this season.

Favorite: Nebraska Spread: 14.5 Total: 53

 

#25 Washington @ Washington State

Washington State (2-9, 0-8 Pac-12) can get its first conference win of the season by knocking off #25 Washington (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) on Friday night, taking home the Apple Cup in the process. As far as solitary wins in a season go, that would be worth writing home about. The Huskies will have other ideas though, and will feel confident riding a three-game winning series winning streak – and a four-game winning streak this season – into the game. The Apple Cup for a Washington side that has impressed at times this season.

Favorite: Washington Spread: 10.5 Total: 51

 

Remember to check back on Saturday for CasinoReview’s rundown of the top rivalry games set to take place on Saturday. Expect news on the Iron Bowl and the Civil War, as well as Florida’s trip to Florida State and USC hosting  #1 Notre Dame.

Pac-12 Not Doing Itself Any Favors

The Huskies' win over Stanford has cast some serious shadows over the Pac-12's National Championship hopes.

Thursday night’s 17-13 loss to Washington has cast a cloud over not only #8 Stanford and its chances of being selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but also the Pac-12’s chances as a conference.

For a conference that was considered the only viable competition to the dominant SEC ahead of the season, things are looking less than clear now.

Decoding the Pac-12

Just two weeks ago, the Cardinal upset USC, denting the Trojans’ own chances of going to the Championship Game. In the process, Stanford staked a claim to be the team that would head to Miami Gardens in January. Admittedly, it was a loose claim. Stanford after all struggled to beat San Jose State in Week 1.

Ahead of Week 4, UCLA looked to be putting their names forward for consideration, but a loss to Oregon State suggested that it’s a little too early to consider the Bruins as serious contenders.

Oregon State meanwhile has gone 2-0 with two wins over ranked opposition. Not a bad start. But can the Beavers keep that pace up? Probably not, although oddsmakers have slashed odds of a BCS championship from 500/1 in the preseason to 75/1 this week.

So that leaves Oregon. Having been considered second fiddle to USC during all of the preseason, the Ducks are now considered the Pac-12’s best chance for a national title. Preseason odds of 10/1 have steadily shortened to 13/2 heading into this week’s action.

The Ducks have looked solid so far this season, averaging close to 53 points per game. But critics could argue that Oregon has yet to play anybody of merit. Sure, they defeated Arizona 49-0 last week, but Arizona’s inclusion on the AP poll was less than solidified. Had the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska played better this season, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats appearing on that list.

For Oregon, the big challenge comes on November 3, with a visit to USC. That is of course if the Ducks can get by Washington next week. A loss to the Cougars would effectively write off National Championship hopes this year.

Week 5 Pac-12 Schedule

After Washington’s upset win over Stanford, here’s what else is on tap this Saturday. Both USC and Utah are on a bye week.

Arizona State (3-1, 0-1 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ California (1-3, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

4:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM PT

The Sun Devils will be looking to continue their strong start to the season with a win over a struggling Golden Bears team. Arizona State currently leads the South division by way of USC’s loss to Stanford and Arizona’s loss to Oregon. Still, the team opened as underdogs in this one, before odds flipped in their favor. The Sun Devils are currently narrow favorites (-1) with the over/under set at 58. There’s certainly money to be made on this game.

UCLA (3-1, 1-0 road, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Colorado (1-3, 0-2 home, 1-0 Pac-12)

6:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM PT

A loss to Oregon State last week saw UCLA’s two week tenure in the AP Polls come to an end. A win against Colorado this week could, but probably won’t, see the Bruins return to the rankings. UCLA enters the game as favorites (-21) and are expected to make easy work of a Colorado team that has looked poor this season. Only a 35-34 win over Washington State last week prevented the Buffaloes from starting the season 0-4. The over/under is 60, with UCLA expecting to accumulate most of those points.

#18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Arizona (3-1, 3-0 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT

Arizona enjoyed two weeks in the AP Poll before losing big to Oregon last week. Oregon State may have only played two, but the Beavers have knocked off two ranked teams (Wisconsin, UCLA) and is sitting pretty heading into this game.

Oddsmakers have the Wildcats as favorites (-3) heading into this one, so they’ve yet to be bowled over by the Beavers’ performances. This games figures to be a close one. The over/under is 61. A win for Arizona will see the Wildcats flirting with the AP poll once again. A win for Oregon State will cement the team’s AP approved credentials.

#2 Oregon (4-0, 0-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Washington State (2-2, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT

Whether Oregon remains the Pac-12’s last remaining hope against the dominance of the SEC remains to be seen. This week the Ducks head out on the road for the first time. Despite the travel north, Oregon are big favorites (-32) over the Cougars. The over/under is 74. Oddsmakers are expecting this to be a high-scoring one-sided affair, just like Oregon’s previous four.