Tuesday, April 23, 2024

San Francisco may actually challenge No. 1 Gonzaga, plus other best bets for Thursday

There are different ways to lose a bet, and some are much better than others. Let’s look at yesterday’s newsletter as an example. One pick I told you to take was the over 135.5 in Rhode Island and La Salle. It didn’t come close to winning. The two teams barely cracked 100 points as Rhode Island won 56-54.

Those kinds of losses don’t bother me nearly as much. When a game finishes 27 points below its projected total, that’s bad luck. It’s an outlier. Sure, you wish you would’ve won, but at least you can move on quickly.

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Then there are the losses like the one we took last night with Alabama. I led last night’s newsletter with Alabama -4 at home against LSU, and I loved the play, and we were looking like winners for nearly the entire game. And then we weren’t. Alabama led LSU 68-62 with 22.9 seconds left as LSU began fouling to extend the game. Unfortunately for us, Alabama was too eager to help and missed four straight free throws — four free throws that would’ve iced the game and our bet. Instead, LSU cut the lead down to one before Alabama would win 70-67, and we’d lose our bet. Those are the losses that linger.

Let’s avoid those losses tonight, shall we? Admittedly, tonight’s slate isn’t incredible. There are only three NBA games, and I don’t like any of them. Then there’s the college basketball slate, which is huge, but there are only two plays I love. Both are included in today’s letter, as is a college basketball future and a parlay. 

OK, let’s bet on more college basketball and hope that the University of Alabama’s men’s basketball program apologizes to all of us with individual, handwritten notes.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

San Francisco at No. 1 Gonzaga, 11 p.m. | TV: CBS Sports Network

Latest Odds: San Francisco Dons +16

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Pick: San Francisco +16 (-110): Who wants to stay up late with me tonight? As I said, there isn’t a ton of value on the board tonight, but this is a spot I like quite a bit. There’s always been a narrative that Gonzaga doesn’t get challenged in the West Coast Conference because there aren’t any other good teams in it, but that’s slightly misleading. There are other good teams. They just aren’t as good as Gonzaga. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Bulldogs do pretty well when playing outside of their conference too.

Tonight they’ll be playing one of the better teams in the WCC and are favored by a few points too many. San Francisco is 15-3 on the season, has picked up a few nice resume wins, and doesn’t have a horrific loss (the Grand Canyon loss wasn’t great, though). As for this matchup, the Dons are a veteran team led by three seniors in Yauhen Massalski, Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz. Junior Gabe Stefanini is a good wing defender. The Dons also have the size to help match players like Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren.

I’m banking on San Francisco’s size and experience to help it stay within range of Gonzaga in this spot. I’m not going to convince you the Dons can pull off an upset here but don’t be shocked if they keep it within 10 points, let alone 16.

Key Trend: It depends on how you want to look at it. Like, San Francisco is 0-7 ATS in its last seven road games, but maybe that just means its due?

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you’re like the person who sent me an angry email last night because I got a pick wrong, maybe you’d prefer to see what SportsLine has to say about this game instead. Also, if you’re the person who is angry at me for getting a pick wrong and ruining your life, I’d like to remind you that you choose to subscribe to this newsletter.

💰 The Picks



🏀 College Basketball

Idaho State at Weber State, 9 p.m. | TV: ESPN+

Latest Odds: Over 137.5

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Pick: Over 137.5 (-110) — Here’s a peek behind the curtain of this newsletter. It’s a numbers play when you see me picking a Big Sky Conference game or something similar. I don’t watch Big Sky basketball. I could pretend to know all about Weber State senior guard Koby McEwen or say something like, “Idaho State really needs Tarik Cool to get going from three if it wants to get the season on track,” but it’d be insincere. The only thing happening here is that my numbers say the total for this game should be higher than it is, and by a pretty considerable margin.

These two played earlier this week, with Weber State emerging on the right side of a 78-61 score. I’m no mathematician, but 78 plus 61 is more than 137.5. I don’t think things will be all that different tonight, except they’ll crack the 140-point barrier. Oh, and while I don’t know much about Tarik Cool’s game, his name is, well, it’s cool.

Key Trend: The over is 3-1-1 in Weber State’s last five home games.

🏀 College Basketball Future

The Pick: Kentucky to win the national title (+1800) — You don’t often see value like this on a traditional blue blood program. If we look back at what it takes to win the NCAA Tournament, certain trends emerge. You typically see teams with strong guard play advance further in the tournament than teams that are overly reliant on big men. Just look back at last season with Baylor if you need an example. Well, Kentucky has excellent guard play this season. While big-man Oscar Tshiebwe garners most of the attention thanks to his 16 points and 15 rebounds per game, he’s surrounded by excellent guards.

TyTy Washington does everything from scoring to distributing to rebounding. Kellan Grady is a terrific three-point shooter (Washington’s great from there too). Sahvir Wheeler is an excellent distributor and passer with an innate ability to find the open shooter or cutter. This is an extraordinarily talented and deep team that’s underappreciated on the market. While Kentucky is No. 13 in the latest AP Poll, it’s ranked third by KenPom, a better indicator of future performance. Yet there are seven teams with better odds or the same odds as Kentucky right now, so if you want in on the Wildcats, I suggest doing it now. There’s a good chance you won’t find a better number for the rest of the season.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Listen, just because I don’t see anything worth betting in the NBA tonight doesn’t mean there isn’t. In fact, the SportsLine Projection Model has an A-graded play on one side of the spread between the Knicks and Pelicans.

🏀 Tonight’s Parlay

Truth be told, I don’t love this, but I don’t hate it, either. So if you’re looking for some additional action just to sweat a bit, here’s a four-leg parlay paying +130.

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