Handicapping the opportunities availed on Monday’s betting card, is hardly a mundane task. Oddsmakers may have their CBB power ratings for the conference finalists — but with less less time to adjust to whatever subtleties that may go unrecognized — the lines they post may be more subject to actionable discrepancy.
As of now, we have five conference champions. Of the outright upsets, #5 Michigan Wolverines (+4.5) against Purdue — only the third team to win back-to-back Big Ten titles (about 7/1 prior to the tourney); and Lipscomb (+7.5) over FGCU in the Atlantic Sun, for their first “Big Dance” bid in program history (+235 or so before the tourney, while FGCU was about -255). Elsewhere, #1 Murray State in the Ohio Valley. #1 Loyola-Chicago in the Missouri Valley. #2 Radford in the Southern ( was +440 prior to the start of the tourney, for the title, behind Winthrop +240, and UNC Greensboro at +165 for the championship prior to the tourney. Notable upsets include: #14 Rutgers (+7.5) outright over #6 Indiana; #9 St. Peters (+3) over #8 Monmouth in the MAAC; Idaho St (+5.5) over Montana; #7 Quinnipiac (+9) over #2 Canisius; #7 Penn St (+5) or so over #2 Ohio St; #5 Michigan (+5) over #1 Michigan St; Radford (+3) over Winthrop; #9 St. Peters (+6.5) over #1 Rider; CS Sacramento (+7.5); #8 Cleveland St (+14) took down #1 Northern Kentucky; #6 UNC Wilmington (+6) over #2 Hofstra— to list a few, despite several conference foregone faves ultimately taking their respective conferences title. It’s key to be as sure as you can of your edges, as these occurrences are not unusual in these all or nothing tournaments. Don’t be too apprehensive about sprinkling a lil 30/70 on the ML, if you feel strongly about the dog. As I type this, the night before, I’ve yet to see a line on a few games of interest i.e. Northeastern/NC-Wilmington; the Cleve St/Oakland; and Fairfield/Iona matchups. . . So I’ll delve into some other picks of seeming promise. . .
* #003 Maple Leafs -170 & -1.5 Pucks +170
70% SU/ 30% PL
Analysis: The Sabres look like a flat out fade as it is. They had a tenacious 4-game winning streak on the road starting on Jan 22nd, with a 2-1 W @ CGY; 5-0 @ EDM; 4-0 @ VAN; culminating with a 4-2 W @ BOS. In the month of February the cellar dwelling Sabres beat the top two teams in their division twice, with a 5-3 W vs TB on the 13th and 2-1 W @ Amalie Arena on the 28th. The aforementioned W @ TD Garden on the 10th; as well as an flexing 4-1 home-ice W on the 25th. What’s even more surprising, is they did all that with Chad Johnson — who owns a 6-10-3 record, 3.18 GAA/.896 Sv% — as their last line of their defense. Nevertheless, most of that happened before Jack Eichel went down with a high ankle sprain, and Evander Kane getting traded to the Sharks for a conditional 2019 1st and 4th round pick, if Kane decides to stay this off-season — as well as a prospect F in Daniel O’Regan, who, from what I read, has left much to be desired. It looks as though the 17 year old Olympian, Rasmus Dahlin, looks promising enough to change the fortunes of the bleakest NHL franchise. Here is an interesting SB Nation article on the Sabres and tanking incentives: https://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2018/2/6/16978300/nhl-draft-2018-lottery-order-odds-rasmus-dahlin-coyotes-sabres-canucks-senators
Despite the Leafs’ 3-game road losing streak, they are still 11 pts up on the 7th seeded NJ Devs. Nonetheless, there should be some motivation to head home, coming away with at least one division road win — and this looks to me, to be a prime spot to take one with Chad Johnson confirmed in net — in whom I expect some regression to the mean. Although, he is 5-1 with 1.99 GAA/.932 Sv% vs the Leafs. He blanked the Leafs back in CGY 16’-17’ season, so I don’t put the same stock in that performance. Other than that, he faced the Leafs four times in 15’-16’ season, in which he surrendered 4 GA and 3 GA on the road; as well as 1 GA in each of his home games in net for the Sabres. The Sabres are 2nd since February, in Scoring Chances Against and while the Maple Leafs are 26th in that span. For what it’s worth. This is an entirely different context. The Leafs still own all of the significant offensive stats in that span – particularly High Danger Shot% – wherein the Sabres rank 30th. The Sabres are also 31st in SCF in that span, while the Leafs are 8th. I do believe Chad Johnson will get peppered, in a game I expect the Leafs to empty the tank, so to say, before heading back to Air Canada. Johnson has given up only 1 goal in each of his last two outings — vs the most productive scoring team in the league — as well as against the Boston Bruins. That is not all too assuring, but Andersen has been good in net against the Sabres as well. 7-1 with a .1.82 GAA/.932 Sv%, Andersen owns a 3 GAA in his last 10 games, however is still 7-3 in that span, while the Sabres are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.
Leafs have a +30 goal-differential vs the Sabres -57.
The Sabres are 9-18-4 at home, while the Leafs are 17-13-5 away.
* #713 Portland Trail Blazers -2
Analysis: The 3rd seeded Blazers (37-26) are only up 2.5 games ahead of the 9th seeded L.A. Clippers (34-28). Perhaps a testament to how crowded the Western Conference is. I.e. There is not much room for error with 19 games left in the season. With the win against the Thunder, the Blazers supplanted third place in the Western Conference, but with just a half game in front of the Minnesota Timberwolves and a game ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs. They will head to Staples’ on a season-high 6-game winning streak. The Lakers themselves are coming home off a 5-game winning streak. Both teams, arguably playing their best ball of the season. Blazers have the Knicks on deck in Portland. I don’t think it is a look-ahead. It is, however, the Lakers’ 1st game home after an extensive road trip. Brandon Ingram logged 19 pts in 35 min in the Lakers’ 131-113 win in Miami and is still listed as questionable for tonight.
Blazers are 14-0 SU vs the Lakers, winning by 2 in each of those contests.
* 3-TEAM PARLAY:
#3706 1st Quarter Cavs ML; #006 Dallas Stars; #730 Northeastern ML
Cavs at home off two consecutive losses are usually good in the 1st quarter despite 1st quarter losses to the Nets and Denver.
Dallas Stars are significantly better in the defensive categories (4th in goals allowed, 3rd in shots on goal allowed, 4th in PK%; and are also 3rd in faceoff%), now hosting the Sens off two consecutive losses. Good bounce-back spot vs a non-contending Sens team.
Northeastern’s scoring differential is significantly better. They handled NC Wilmington both times this season. I lends me to believe they have more, a sense of confidence, than of entitlement.