Welcome back, Major League Baseball. Absolutely awesome to be opening the season with a game in Japan between the Athletics and Mariners at a time when viewers will be few and far between.
MLB will glow over their great financial health. Just imagine how much the sport would be raking in if they had even a bit of a clue as to what they're doing from a marketing standpoint.
Anyway, like it or not, there will be loads of baseball commentary here over the next few months. I remain a huge fan of the game itself, even if I just shake my head far too often at how the sport's upper management seems to be stuck in the 20th century.
Good Tuesday on the ice, not good in hoops. I was on a decent mini-roll in the baskets but that sure came to a nasty end last night. I'll look to get back on track tonight with a play on one of the NCAA play-in games that I will also use as the daily free play.
NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL vs. NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Take: NC CENTRAL +5
Another win by the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night. That's 9-1 for the Knights since the Mark Stone deal, and make no mistake, he's making a major difference in the way opposing teams have to try and defend the Vegas attack.
The win at San Jose was very impressive. No Marc-Andre Fleury, second game of a back to back and up against a San Jose team trying to nail down a division title. The Sharks got on the board very quickly but the lead didn't last and there's little question the Knights were the better team for most of the evening.
By no means is the road to another Stanley Cup final going to be easy. But I really feel as though the Golden Knights are beginning to emerge as the team to beat in this conference. I'd make Winnipeg the most difficult obstacle but it's one the Golden Knights have the ability to overcome.
In any event, this is looking more and more like another thrilling spring for hockey fans here in the desert!
The Monday free play turned out to ...
This will be a quickie. I'm making numbers for all the available matchups, not only at the main event but also in the minor tournaments. So that's the focus right now, no time for any commentary.
I split my two Sunday hoops, winning relatively easily with Yale and getting on the wrong side of a late game melt yet again, this time with Michigan. The Wolverines managed to get outscored 10-0 over the last couple minutes and change and ended up going 0-3 vs. their rivals from Michigan State.
On to Monday and what could be a blank day for me. One early lean in the NHL, and I'll use that as the free play.
ARIZONA COYOTES at TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Take: LIGHTNING -1.5
It's tough enough to compete with this powerhouse Tampa Bay team. Add in a little extra motivation and watch out. Very early this season, in what was probably the worst game they played all season, the Lightning were 7-1 blowout victims at Arizona. Uh oh. I'd have to give the TB puck line a long look here.
UNLV basketball is done for the season. No suspense on Selection Sunday and as of right now no head coach. Marvin Menzies is out after three years and I don't think there's any question the move had to be made. That's not meant to be a slam on Menzies. But the fact is MM just wasn't moving the needle for a storied program that is in danger of becoming an afterthought.
As for the new coach, it seems fairly certain it's going to be a big name. I'm hearing at least two extremely interested candidates, but as I'm not the direct source, I am not going to borrow someone else's work without asking first, and I haven't had a chance to ask yet.
My choice will evidently not be a consideration. Rick Pitino is the ultimate right coach for this program on almost every level. He's a great coach who wins, and he's front page material. I really don't care if it's not always the front page stuff one wants to see. Pitino sells 10K season tickets in a week and packs the Mack for every home game ...
Blogs for the next several days will consist of only the daily free play. I'll be tied up with some home repair work that needs to be done (thanks a lot, rain) and my online presence will be limited. But I'll still be posting the daily free plays here. Figure the blogs to return to the normal format early next week.
Here's the Saturday free play.
America East Final
No line on this game overnight, and it's a VERY early start, so set your alarm if you want to play it. I anticipate Vermont -12.5 and I will be on the Catamounts to break the spell UMBC has had on them and win this one convincingly.
Amazing! I hear or read that word on an almost daily basis as it relates to a college basketball comeback. If it happens nearly every day it's not amazing. It might be impressive. Maybe it's gutsy. Perhaps it's unexpected. But when something occurs as often as this does in college basketball, it simply isn't amazing.
Therefore, while not meaning to diminish the rallies that took place on Sunday by Bradley, Nebraska, Delaware and Ohio State, none of them were downright amazing.
Fact is, anyone who wagers on college basketball on a regular basis knows full well that big leads can be very temporary. It really doesn't take long for a team to significantly cut into a big deficit with the three-point field goals available.
I'm nitpicking to be sure. But I'd rather save the amazing description for the comebacks that really fit that role.
My Sunday was a horror show. I had several games checked as opinions but only used two as selections and they both went belly up. No ...
Another quick blog tonight, but one brief comment. While the entire football world seems to be laughing hilariously at the Raiders for the Antonio Brown trade, consider this. The Raiders had four of the top 35 picks in this year's draft prior to this deal. They still have four of the top 35 picks. And they have a true superstar wideout who should still have a couple of great seasons left, at the very least. Someone will have to explain to me how this is such a bad deal for the soon to be Las Vegas Raiders.
My Friday was outstanding, and in what has been a seriously frustrating trend since the start if 2019, I gave it right back on Saturday. The Colorado State play was no good, though it did get interesting late. UC Irvine was a clear right side. It's as simple as that. They simply got way too far ahead way too soon, which is literally the worst thing that can happen if you're on a big favorite. There was some -12 available but the consensus line was -12.5 so I graded it as a ...
March Madness is definitely underway. There was some tremendously exciting tournament action on Friday. i though the best of the bunch was the Ohio Valley semi clash between Murray State and Jacksonville State, a legit thriller that went right to the buzzer with the Racers barely prevailing.
My Friday worked out very nicely as Bradley, Northern Illinois and Drake were winners. So a substantial gain for the day and I would like to think this is the kickoff to a March Gladness heater.
The free play was the NIU side. And of now, I've got just one sure play from the regular season schedule, and won't have my tournament work done till later. The daily comp is not yet on the service rundown, so consider it as an opinion for now, though I could add this during the day.
715 SAN DIEGO STATE at 716 NEVADA
Take: NEVADA -14
The last go round in Reno for this talented Wolf Pack entry and revenge to boot. San Diego State doesn't have much to play for here. They're locked into a 4/5 ...
Tournament time means late nights for me updating what took place on teams that won and are moving on to play the next day. So I probably won't be doing much in the way of commentary for a good number of days.
But the recaps and daily free plays will always be here. i split the two basketball plays on Thursday. As usual, the winner was a blowout and I lost the coin flip. Weber State was a walk in the park, Niagara pulled mu usual late fade and lost to Monmouth. It's really uncanny how that last media timeout has been the signal for the bad finishes to click in, but that's just how it runs sometimes. I did manage a small profit for the day thanks to a White Sox 0.5x winner in baseball.
Here's the Friday free play.
855 NORTHERN ILLINOIS at 856 BALL STATE
Take: NORTHERN ILLINOIS +5
Final weekend of the regular season, many teams are more focused on the upcoming conference tournaments. So it's not a bad idea to look for teams who figure to have a little extra motivation ...
Quick blog tonight as I'm working on the Thursday tournament matchups and am a bit behind on the homework (had to watch the Golden Knights game!).
My only Wednesday play was on Dayton and the Flyers pulled away late to win big against La Salle.
I won't make any final decisions on the Thursday slate till the morning, but here's one of the considerations.
641 IDAHO at 642 WEBER STATE
Take: WEBER STATE -17.5
Could be the wrong place at the wrong time for a very weak Idaho squad. The Vandals finally beat someone to conclude their home schedule, barely hanging on to upset Sacramento State. Idaho also has Idaho State on deck. As for the Wildcats, they need a good game. Weber State has dropped three in a row and I'm sure head coach Randy Rahe would like to get his guys back on track before the conference tournament gets underway. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Wildcats take out some frustration on a very weak Idaho entry.
The Las Vegas Bowl is going big time. Bad news for the Mountain West, but the "local" conference is getting the boot with the arrival of the new stadium. The Big Ten and SEC will now be alternating visits to the desert for a matchup with a PAC-12 member.
As for the Mountain West, they will now be part of the new LA Bowl. Lotsa luck filling the seats for that one.
It's a tough break for the Mountain West, but hardly unexpected. It's just a natter off time before one of the playoff games gets scheduled for Las Vegas. Truth is, the city has outgrown the Mountain West.
If there's a way to lose a basketball game in the final minute, I'll find it. I can't say i had the right side with Loyola Maryland but they still managed to lose the end game. I can say i had the right side with UIC. But the Flames end up in the trash heap in game they had covered for 39:55, and they were ahead for virtually the entire second half. Quite honestly, I've come to expect ...
Monday was a day off for me as far as any sports wagering is concerned. That gave me an opportunity to catch up on the world that exists outside of the one my life centers around on a mostly everyday basis.
I spent roughly five hours viewing the two-part "Leaving Neverland" documentary on HBO as well as the follow up session conducted by Oprah Winfrey. A grim piece to put it mildly. But also extremely enlightening on a topic that I have very little perspective on, thankfully.
I won't go the soapbox route, nor will I ridicule those who remain convinced Michael Jackson was not a pedophile. There does appear to be virtually no question that those defending Jackson are nearly all fans of Jackson. Sorry, but if you're biased going in, your conclusions are likely to reflect that stance.
In any case, I would definitely recommend checking out the four-hour film as well as the Oprah panel convo. It's pretty compelling stuff, albeit it's also highly unpleasant material.