If you are a sports betting enthusiast like all of us at BangTheBook.com are, then you probably start thinking about the betting impact of the day’s top stories. Not every top story has a relevance to betting, but you probably try to connect the dots anyway. In a new feature each weekday, we will take a look at the top six sports stories of the day in an article titled the Daily Six Pack. They say that an apple day keeps the doctor away. Well, we like to think that a six pack a day keeps the bookie away.
With that, let’s take a look at the six top stories for Friday April 10:
A Masterful Round
Jordan Spieth fired an opening round 64 at Augusta National to stand alone atop the leaderboard after Day 1. Spieth’s round was the best number posted at the prestigious golf course in 19 years and Spieth was just one shot off the course record. Spieth also became the youngest player to lead after the first round at just 21 years of age.
Four players carded 67s on the day as Ernie Els, Jason Day, Justin Rose, and Charley Hoffman all finished tied for second. Day was one of the betting favorites for the tournament and he has been in the hunt at Augusta before, so he’ll be a name to watch if Spieth starts to come back to the pack or the pack comes up to him.
All the buzz surrounding Tiger Woods was misguided as usual. Woods shot an opening round 73, though things could have gone a lot worse. Woods had some great saves and considered his short game the strength of his round. As I said earlier this week, the mental side of the game was going to be the biggest hurdle for Woods. He was visibly frustrated and impatient about the way that things were going. To his credit, he was out on the range after his round trying to get all of his swing mechanics in order, especially with clubs off the tee. He’s nine shots off the lead, but the projected cut is +2, so that’s the number that Woods needs to worry about.
Rory McIlroy finished with a 71. So did ageless wonder Tom Watson.
The Miami Heat took a 19-point lead into halftime against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. They lost by 11. The Bulls were outscored 33-12 in the second quarter and repaid the favor after the break by outscoring Miami 33-8 in the third quarter. It was a devastating loss for Miami, as the Heat fell to 1.5 games out for the final two spots in the East. The Bulls moved back into third, a half-game ahead of the idle Toronto Raptors.
In the only other NBA game on Thursday, the Golden State Warriors stepped it up once again and knocked off the Portland Trail Blazers. As I’ve said before in the Six Pack, it’s really hard to see somebody knocking off the Warriors in a long series. They’re simply too consistent. The Trail Blazers were just 7-of-24 from three, buoyed by Damian Lillard’s 1-of-9 performance. The biggest reason Portland lost is because Golden State outscored them 34-7 on the break. Golden State’s transition game is scary and Steph Curry had 45 in the game. As good as the Western Conference is, it still feels like Golden State is on another level.
Unfortunately for the NHL, Saturday’s 15-game card got a lot less interesting based on what happened on Thursday night. The Calgary Flames beat the Los Angeles Kings to punch their ticket to the playoffs. The Kings became the first team in eight years to win the Stanley Cup and miss the playoffs the following season. It wasn’t pretty, but the Detroit Red Wings grabbed a point against the Montreal Canadiens to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
Only two spots are unaccounted for, both of them in the Eastern Conference. The Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins hold the inside track thanks to Boston’s loss to Florida on Thursday. The Senators would be in with a point on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Pittsburgh Penguins can clinch a playoff spot at home on Friday night against the New York Islanders, who clinched a playoff spot thanks to Boston’s loss to Florida.
Playoff seeding and the Atlantic Division title are storylines for Saturday’s card, along with the two playoff berths left unclaimed, but the NHL was probably hoping for some more compelling games. In any event, it took 97 points to get into the playoffs in the Western Conference and at least 97 points in the Eastern Conference as well, so that speaks to the high level of parity in the NHL.
The Cleveland Indians took a combined no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Houston Astros before Jed Lowrie stopped the Indians’ bid at history with a solo home run with one out in the ninth. The Indians won 5-1. The Astros struck out 16 times in the game, though they did draw seven walks. The Astros are a fascinating offensive team because the front office is very deep into analytics and the lineup is full of right-handed power with a lot of long swings. They will hit home runs and they will strike out. But, they will also have a lot of games like this.
The Cincinnati Reds won two one-run games in walk-off fashion against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon never made an appearance. Clint Hurdle left his best reliever on the bench in two high-leverage situations and paid the price for both of them. It’s hard to defend a manager for not using the best bullets he has with the game on the line and it’s incredibly frustrating as a bettor.
Matt Harvey displayed a ridiculous arsenal on Thursday against the Washington Nationals. Harvey struck out nine over six innings in his first start back from Tommy John surgery. The Nats scored a couple off of the bullpen, but the Mets took the series victory by beating Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. They also got a good start from Jacob deGrom in their lone loss in the series. The Mets just might be for real.
Left Turns Return
Those of you that missed watching NASCAR are excited for Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series Race at Texas Motor Speedway. The drivers spent the Easter holiday with their families and are ready to get back in the cars and speed around the track. Joey Logano took the checkered flag last year and led 108 of the 340 laps. Jeff Gordon was second, with a couple of Toyotas in third and fourth with Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers in the top five.
Kevin Harvick is the 17/4 favorite for Saturday’s night race. Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch are next in line at 6/1. Matt Kenseth is next at 8/1 and Joey Logano is 9/1 to be the repeat champion. Three drivers, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Gordon are all next at 10/1. Earnhardt Jr. was limited to 12 laps last year and Harvick was out after 28 laps.
The Kentucky Wildcats came two games away from perfection. On Thursday, seven Wildcats announced their intentions to enter the NBA Draft. Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison, and Aaron Harrison are all leaving to pursue professional career. Towns and Cauley-Stein are projected to be lottery picks.
The cupboard is not bare for John Calipari, who still has Tyler Ulis and Alex Poythress, who missed most of the season after suffering a torn ACL. Marcus Lee is sticking around and Kentucky has three of ESPN’s top 50 incoming freshmen, so the Wildcats should be no worse for wear. Also, the announcement of all the players leaving should entice undecided recruits that want to play right away as freshmen to go to Kentucky. Expect another round of one-and-dones from the ‘Cats next season.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.