Duke-Utah in Sweet Sixteen Epic

Bracketologists and sports bettors alike had their hungry eyes on the No. 5 Utah Utes going into this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Utes (26-8 SU, 21-11-1 ATS) have paid off with a pair of early-round victories, and this Friday night, they’ll face a tougher challenge from the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (31-4 SU, 20-14-1 ATS) in the Sweet Sixteen. Duke is favored by six points (–105) as we go to press.

Utah had to settle for a 5-seed after finishing behind the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats in the Pacific-12 Conference. But that only masks how potent the Utes are this year. Ken Pomeroy has them ranked eighth overall in efficiency (No. 19 offense, No. 7 defense), and that’s just two spots behind Duke (No. 2 offense, No. 46 defense) in Division I.

There’s even some buzz that Utah could be the team to eliminate Duke from the tournament. The Utes have impressive perimeter shooting (40.8%, seventh in Division I), and they also have 7-foot center Jakob Poeltl (24.7 PER), who might be able to contain Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (32.1 PER). Tip-off from Houston is at 9:45 PM ET on CBS.

Ducks-Bruins in Battle of Overvalued Teams

They say it’s better to be lucky than good. The Anaheim Ducks have enjoyed some of both; as we go to press, they’re in first place in the Western Conference at 46-21-2-5, but that includes a ridiculously fortunate 29-1-2-5 record in games decided by one goal. The Ducks will test their luck Thursday night against the Boston Bruins, who need to go find some four-leaf clovers if they’re going to clinch a playoff spot in the East.

At 36-25-3-9, the Bruins are clinging to the last Wild Card spot in their conference after losing five in a row. Their 28-45 record against the puck line is well below break-even at minus-11.50 units in earnings, but that’s nothing compared to the Ducks at 27-47 ATS record and minus-27.57 units. Only the last-place Arizona Coyotes (33-40 ATS, minus-30.78 units) have lost more money this year.
To emphasize how overvalued Anaheim is, Hockey Reference has the Ducks at plus-0.14 on the Simple Rating System, leaving them seventh overall in the West. Boston’s plus-0.02 SRS translates to ninth place in the East. Game time for this matchup at the Garden is 7:00 PM ET on the NHL Network.

League-Leading Warriors Dominate Point Spread in 2015

If there was ever any doubt about the Golden State Warriors maintaining their spot atop the NBA league, a late season surge has put the notion to rest. The Warriors have been first in the league for the majority of the season, and a recent winning streak has made their NBA odds even more compelling.

There are a number of reasons why the Warriors have thrived in 2014-2015. Their 57-13 record as of press is four games higher than league No. 2 Atlanta and seven games higher than the second-best squad in the West, Memphis. Not only does the team win ball games, but they cover the spread too; they’re 41-28-1 ATS as we go to press.

In the last two weeks alone the Warriors have beaten three double-digit spreads and even took down the aforementioned Hawks by 19 points against a 7-point spread.

In the coming days the franchise will try their luck against legitimate contenders like the Blazers, Clippers and those pesky Grizzlies, so take a good long look if you’re considering wagering on the upstart powerhouse. The Dubs are 11/4 to win the NBA Championship, and that’s hardly a stretch.

Top-Ranked Djokovic Favored in Miami

He’s the best male tennis player in the world today. He’s so good that he’s favored over the rest of the field at this week’s ATP stop: the Miami Open. Novak Djokovic has opened at 4/5 on the tennis futures market at Bovada. A simple YES/NO prop is also available for whether Djokovic will win, with “yes” priced at –125 and “no” at +105.

Djokovic is coming off a strong victory at Indian Wells, where he beat World’s No. 2 Roger Federer in the final. That runs Djokovic’s 2015 singles record to 19-2, and avenges an earlier loss to Federer in the finals at Dubai. Federer is not participating in Miami this week. Andy Murray, who lost to Djokovic in the semifinals at Indian Wells, is 9/2 to win the Miami Open for the third time (2009, 2013).

In the women’s draw, No. 1 Serena Williams went into South Beach as the 3/2 favorite despite having to withdraw from Indian Wells with inflammation in her right knee. Williams was due to face Simona Halep in the semifinals, and Halep went on to beat Jelena Jankovic for the title, and is the second favorite in Miami at 4/1.

Can Belmont Bruins set pressure on Virginia Cavaliers?

It wouldn’t be March Madness without a major upset in the Round of 64, and this year, people are looking at the No. 15 Belmont Bruins to get the job done. It’s a tall order. As we go to press, the Bruins are 16.5-point underdogs for Friday’s matchup (3:10 PM ET, truTV) against the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers. But even if Belmont comes up short, the Wahoos could have trouble covering this giant spread.

Belmont has yet to actually win a tournament game in six attempts under head coach Rick Byrd, and that 1-5 ATS record isn’t very promising. However, back in 2008, the Bruins were 20-point underdogs against No. 2 Duke, and they lost by the slimmest of margins, 71-70.

This year’s Bruins (22-10 SU, 12-16-1 ATS) have won six straight SU and ATS, including upsets over Eastern Kentucky (–1.5) and Murray State (–6) to take down the Ohio Valley Conference title. The Cavaliers (29-3 SU, 17-13 ATS) dropped two of their last three SU and ATS, both as favorites, and junior guard Justin Anderson (24.2 PER) has struggled since undergoing an appendectomy two weeks ago. Anderson is Virginia’s top perimeter threat at 46.9% from downtown.

Serena Williams Relatively Easy Game so far at Indian Wells

With four rounds in the books at Indian Wells, not only is No. 1 seed Serena Williams still alive, but her path to the title has gotten considerably easier. While Williams (–1000) was able to fend off Sloane Stephens in three sets to advance to the quarterfinals, No. 2 Maria Sharapova (–650) fell to the defending champion, Flavia Pennetta.

This definitely opens things up for Williams – not that she needs much help. Going into her match with Stephens, the World’s No. 1 was listed at 11/10 to win her first appearance at Indian Wells since 2001. Sharapova was the clear second favorite at 5/1, ahead of No. 3 seed Simona Halep at 7/1. Halep won her fourth-round match in straight sets over Karolina Pliskova to cash in at –220.

Williams will be facing Timea Bacsinszky in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, with their match not due to begin until 10:00 PM ET at the earliest. Bacsinszky, from Switzerland, is the No. 26-ranked women’s tennis player in the world. She won the WTA event earlier this month in Monterrey, one week after claiming victory in Acapulco. But Williams won their only previous match back in 2010 in Rome.

Last-Chance Stars Host Penguins on NHL Network

The Dallas Stars (32-28-7-3, 33-37 ATS for minus-15.85 units) might be drowning in red ink in the Central Division basement, but their Stanley Cup dreams aren’t over yet. The Stars can still make a playoff push in the Western Conference, and while their Cup chances are a slim 500/1 as we go to press, they can take a big step forward by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night. Game time is 8:30 PM ET on the NHL Network.

The Penguins (39-20-4-6, 32-37 ATS for plus-4.27 units) are in third place in the Metropolitan Division and should make the playoffs, but they suddenly find themselves vulnerable with two more players on the injured list. Evgeni Malkin (28 goals, 40 assists, 8.9 Point Shares) is expected to sit out for one to two weeks with a lower body injury. Patric Hornqvist (23 goals, 22 assists, 6.4 PS) is also on the shelf this week with an undisclosed issue.

This could open the door for Dallas. The Stars have the proverbial puncher’s chance at home; they’re second in the league in scoring at 3.07 goals per game, and with Tyler Seguin (32 goals, 30 assists, 8.3 PS) back in the lineup, Dallas has won three of its last five games.

Late-Season Emergence Gives Celtics Betting Value

The Boston Celtics (30-36 SU, 39-26-1 ATS) have emerged as a late contender to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and their NBA odds are shrinking daily. Don’t sleep on the rebuilding squad in the final weeks of the regular season. They’re 250/1 to win the NBA Championship as we go to press.

Much has gone wrong for the Celtics this season. They lost their best frontcourt player, Jared Sullinger, to a season ending foot injury. But the young team has made the most with what they’ve been given.With trade deadline acquisition Isaiah Thomas leading the charge, the team is on a five game winning streak both straight up and against the spread. Their winning streak started with a 100-90 victory in Miami as 2.5-point underdogs.

They’ll try to extend their winning streak this Wednesday by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder (37-30 SU, 33-32-2 ATS). Boston lost their last match against Oklahoma City 109-94 on November 12, failing to cover as a 7.5-point underdog. We’ll see if they can redeem themselves Wednesday. Oklahoma is expected to be the favorite again by about eight points. Game time is at 8:00 PM ET.

Harvard-Yale for Ivy League Title, Dance Invite

The Ivy League is supposed to be the only conference of the 32 participating Division I members that doesn’t hold a tournament to decide who wins the title and goes on to March Madness. But this year, the Harvard Crimson (21-7 SU, 9-13 ATS) and the Yale Bulldogs (22-9 SU, 14-7-1 ATS) each finished with a conference record of 11-3. They’ll meet this Saturday (4:00 PM ET) on neutral ground at The Palestra in Philadelphia for the Ivy League title and the automatic berth into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Harvard backed into this tiebreaker game last Saturday, when Yale lost to the Dartmouth Big Green 59-58 as 3.5-point home favorites. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on neutral ground after the Crimson and the Bulldogs won SU and ATS in each other’s building during the regular season. The NCAAB odds for the title game are pending as we go to press.

Although Yale has the far better record against the spread this year, noted stat guru Ken Pomeroy has the Bulldogs ranked No. 75 overall (No. 117 offense, No. 55 defense) in Division I, just slightly ahead of the Crimson at No. 78 (No. 176 offense, No. 35 defense).

Serena Williams Expected to Dominate Indian Wells

After 14 long years, Serena Williams is finally coming back to Indian Wells. The World’s No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player has ended her boycott, and thanks in part to a fairly easy draw in the early rounds, Williams is expected to be the favorite when the tennis odds are released.

Williams started her boycott in 2001, after she was harassed by the crowd during her finals victory over Kim Clijsters. No American woman has won the event since. The list of former champions reads like a Who’s Who of the sport: Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki have all won the unofficial “fifth major” on the tennis circuit, as has the defending champion, Flavia Pennetta.

While Sharapova and Azarenka are pointed toward a potential third-round matchup at Indian Wells, Williams appears to be in the clear until at least the fourth round, where she could face Lucie Safarova, the World’s No. 11 who beat Azarenka in last month’s Qatar Total Open final. Williams has played sparingly since taking down the 2015 Australian Open; her most recent match was over a month ago at the Fed Cup, where she beat Maria Irigoyen in straight sets.

Spurs Gain Steam, Undervalued as Reigning Champs

The San Antonio Spurs have gathered momentum in the Western Conference as of late, and they’ll need it if they plan to claw their way to the top half of the playoff bracket. Although the reigning champion squad is 9/1 to win another title, they’re seventh place in their conference as we go to press.

This year’s San Antonio roster is similar to the one that beat the Miami Heat in last year’s championship, but despite their impressive season record of 39-23, they’re not covering the majority of their matches (27-33-2 ATS). Having won the West in the past two seasons, the Spurs often find themselves getting stuck with big spreads.

This year, with power forward Tim Duncan turning 39, the Spurs have shown splashes of potential. They enjoyed an eight game winning streak in November and are on a five game winning streak as we go to press. They won their match against the Chicago Bulls on March 8, covering as a 10-point favorite in San Antonio. Next, they’ll host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 9:30 PM ET on March 12. Cleveland is 40-25 SU and 31-34 ATS.

Re-tooled Rangers Ride into Washington

After going without the Stanley Cup for 20 seasons, the New York Rangers weren’t about to stand back at this year’s trade deadline. The Rangers will bring their bolstered lineup to DC Wednesday night (8:00 PM ET, NBCSN) to face the Washington Capitals, who’ve done a little spring cleaning of their own.

New York (40-17-2-5, 34-30 ATS for plus-11.33 units) went all-in for the playoffs by sending a healthy package of draft picks and prospects to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Keith Yandle (four goals, 37 assists). Yandle should help improve the Rangers’ defensive power play, which ranks No. 9 in the league at 83% as we go to press.

Washington (36-21-6-4, 32-35 ATS for plus-7.36 units) made a couple of smaller moves, adding defenseman Tim Gleason and left winger Curtis Glencross. But the Caps should have the advantage in this matchup; the Rangers will get no rest after visiting the New York Islanders Tuesday night. The Blueshirts are also still without starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (.922 save percentage) because of a strained neck, although Cam Talbot (.921 SV%) has played well in reserve.

Kentucky Seeks Perfection Against Florida

There’s just one game left in the regular season for the No. 1 team in college hoops, the Kentucky Wildcats (30-0 SU, 15-14-1 ATS). That game is Saturday’s matchup against the visiting Florida Gators (15-15 SU, 10-18-1 ATS), who are having a rough year after reaching the Final Four last March. Tip-off from Rupp Arena is 2:00 PM ET on CBS.

Kentucky’s undefeated streak nearly ended Tuesday night in Athens. The Wildcats had to claw their way back from a nine-point deficit in the second half to beat the Georgia Bulldogs (+9.5 at home) 72-64. Maybe this will inspire the ‘Cats to play harder Saturday; the last time they had a close shave, back on February 10 against LSU (+9.5 away), they went 4-0-1 ATS in their next five games.

Florida, on the other hand, is 3-2 SU and 1-4 ATS in its last five. Three of those games were without junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith (24.3 PER), who was suspended for an undisclosed team violation. The Gators have won twice SU and split the cash since Finney-Smith was reinstated. He was their leading scorer with 16 points when they lost 68-61 to Kentucky (–8 away) on February 7.

All Slots Casino Shines With New Games in Green and Gold

Irish Magic and Aztec Legends Bring Excitement and New Winning Opportunities This March

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France Favored to Win Davis Cup

The first round of the 2015 Davis Cup “World Group” stage begins this Friday, and of the 16 teams who have made it this far, France is the 2/1 favorite at press time to win the most prestigious international team event in men’s tennis. Serbia is second at 9/4, followed by Canada and the Czech Republic at 11/2.

France hasn’t won the Davis Cup since 2001, but after making it all the way to the final last year, hopes are high for this year’s team. Unfortunately, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (forearm) is unavailable for the first-round matchup with Germany (33/1). Gael Monfils will join Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Mahut in Frankfurt, facing off against a German squad featuring World’s No. 25 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Canada has a relatively easy draw and the presence of both Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil. They’ll also have home-court advantage this weekend in Vancouver when they face Japan (50/1), who eliminated Canada 4-1 last year when Raonic and Pospisil were unavailable. Canada’s path to the title got easier when Roger Federer decided not to join the defending champions from Switzerland (7/1), who project to meet Canada in the quarterfinals after taking on Belgium (50/1).

Flyers, Blues Deal Before East-West Clash

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, and just about every team was involved, including the two teams who will be featured Thursday night on the NHL Network: the St. Louis Blues (40-18-2-3, 29-34 ATS for plus-2.61 units at press time), and the Philadelphia Flyers (27-25-4-7, 35-28 ATS for plus-0.99 units). Game time in Philly is 7:00 PM ET.

The Blues are in a fairly comfortable spot in the Western Conference, holding down second place in the Central Division. They acquired defenseman Zbynek Michalek from the Arizona Coyotes and forward Olli Jokinen from the Toronto Maple Leafs; Michalek is the key addition here, with his plus-2.5 Defensive Point Shares for Arizona.

The Flyers have a lot more work to do in the East. They’re in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division and need to make a run to grab a Wild Card berth. But Philadelphia may have thrown in the towel after shipping out defensemen Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen. The trades look promising for the Flyers in the long run, but they won’t help them beat St. Louis on Thursday. Philly was already No. 23 in the NHL at 2.79 goals allowed per game.

Spin to Win a Share of $80,000 on the Reel o’ Fortune

With Guaranteed Prizes Twice a Week, Players Will Be Feeling the Luck This March

(Press Release) TA XBIEX, MALTA–(Marketwired – March 02, 2015) – To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the Jackpot Factory proudly presents the Reel o’ Fortune, a gameshow-style promotion running at its casinos this March. All players at the group are invited to step up to the big wheel twice each week and spin for a guaranteed prize: free spins on the popular Avalon slot game, bonuses of up to $100, or extra tickets to an end-of-month draw, awarding a share of 1,000,000 loyalty points to the lucky winners.

One Million Loyalty Points at the End of the Rainbow

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Players may collect tickets in two ways: by earning one ticket for every $10 deposited at any of the participating casinos during the month, and by winning tickets as a prize for spinning the Reel o’ Fortune. The more tickets a player earns, the better his chances of winning big in the March 31 draw.

With this exciting promotion and guaranteed spin-to-win prizes, the Jackpot Factory is the place to be this March.

Reeling Jayhawks Host Road-Warrior Longhorns

The Kansas Jayhawks had a very bad week. They went 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS, capped off by Monday’s disastrous 70-63 loss to the rival Kansas State Wildcats (+5.5 at home). The Jayhawks hope Allen Fieldhouse will be kinder to them when they host the Texas Longhorns this Saturday (5:00 PM ET, ESPN).

Visiting Lawrence is never easy, and the Jayhawks (22-6 SU, 15-11-1 ATS) are undefeated at home this season at 13-0 SU. But the Longhorns (17-11 SU, 14-12 ATS) have been putting up a strong fight on the road; they’re 4-6 SU away from Frank Erwin Center, including a 61-57 victory over Kansas State (+1).

When these two Big 12 cornerstones met in Austin last month, Kansas came away with the 75-62 win as a 3-point favorite. The Longhorns were ranked No. 17 at the time, and while they’ve completely dropped off the AP poll, Ken Pomeroy still has them pegged at No. 21 (No. 38 offense, No. 34 defense) in terms of efficiency. The Jayhawks, still No. 8 in the AP rankings for now, are No. 10 in efficiency (No. 12 offense, No. 28 defense) in Division I.

Wozniacki on the Rebound in Qatar

It’s been three years since Caroline Wozniacki was the No. 1 women’s tennis player in the world. But after switching her coaches and her brand of racket, the Danish superstar is making the long climb back to the top. As we go to press, Wozniacki is ranked No. 5 on the WTA Tour, and she’s the 7/2 co-favorite to win this week’s Qatar Open in Doha.

The other co-favorite in Qatar is World’s No. 4 Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion from 2011 and 2014. Kvitova is seeded first and Wozniacki third; World’s No. 3 Simona Halep was going to be the second seed after her win in Dubai, where she beat Wozniacki (+120) in the semifinals, but Halep withdrew because of fitness concerns – reportedly rib and ankle issues.

Wozniacki and Kvitova were both given first-round byes, as were Agnieszka Radwanska (8/1) and Ekaterina Makarova (12/1), thus putting them one step closer to the title. Third favorite Victoria Azarenka (5/1) didn’t get the same star treatment; the two-time Australian Open champion had to beat Angelique Kerber (+230) to reach the second round. We’ll see if that extra work helps or harms Azarenka this week.

Why You Shouldn’t Underrate the Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies are the No. 3 seed in basketball. They’re second in the Western Conference only to the Golden State Warriors (43-10 SU, 32-20-1 ATS), but Memphis is only 9/1 to win the championship. This isn’t the first time the franchise has been underrated.

The Grizzlies haven’t lost back-to-back games since early January, and they’re heading into late February on a hot streak. But that record wavers against the spread (28-25-2). Oddsmakers know that this team is good, and have favored them in seven of the last nine matches, but we’ll see how they’ll fare in a seven-game series with an equally formidable opponent.

Over the course of the last four years, the franchise has become a consistent contender in the West, despite failing to grab the attention of casual hoops fans. The Grizzlies to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round last year, but made it as far as the Western Conference Finals the year prior.

Memphis stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol have been better than ever this year. Their ascent as homegrown powerhouses has kept this team moving in the right direction. That reliability makes their futures odds awfully intriguing.

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