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 Monday April 6:
Technically, the MLB season opened on Sunday night as the St. Louis Cardinals bested the Chicago Cubs 3-0 as the hyped Cubs offense did absolutely nothing against Adam Wainwright and their defense was equally as inept. As I’ve mentioned before, defense is something that oddsmakers don’t really account for when setting lines and totals. It will be something to watch with the Cubs going forward, especially Jorge Soler, who channeled a 23-year-old Manny Ramirez with his fielding efforts on Sunday.
Anyway, 28 of the 30 teams are in action on Monday as the Cubs and Cardinals sit the day out since bad weather was a possibility in Chicago last night. I recorded the maiden voyage of The Bettor’s Box, our new twice-a-week MLB betting podcast at BangTheBook.com on Monday morning. Check that out and pass along any feedback on the show so it can keep improving throughout the season.
Looking at some of the game lines, the respect that Cole Hamels is getting is rather impressive. The Phillies are horrible, and they essentially opened a pick ‘em against the Boston Red Sox with -110 on both sides. The Red Sox are in the -115 across the market now, but Hamels is not going to get a lot of support offensively or defensively from that group. As good as Hamels is, he’s in a terrible situation in Philadelphia.
Another very interesting line is the Central Division showdown between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox. Yordano Ventura and the Royals opened a favorite and money has been coming in on Jeff Samardzija and the White Sox. This is an example of the offseason dictating early season perception. The White Sox added Samardzija, Adam LaRoche, Melky Cabrera, and others. The Royals are the reigning AL champs. Ventura is the best that the Royals have to offer and oddsmakers already have an important decision on Opening Day.
Braves Rebuild in Full Swing
The Atlanta Braves officially signaled the end of the 2015 season before it began by trading Craig Kimbrel and Melvin (formerly BJ) Upton to the San Diego Padres for Matt Wisler and a competitive balance pick. The Braves weren’t going anywhere this season anyway, but it’s a move that signals that the rebuild is in full force. John Hart built a great Cleveland Indians franchise in the 1990s and should be given the benefit of the doubt. He’s added a lot of power arms this winter in hopes that some will work out.
The shortsightedness of the move for the Padres speaks to how close they think they are. Justin Upton is once again reunited with his brother and the Padres gave up some premier trade assets for one of the game’s best closers. The Padres have excellent bullpen depth now, but they’re still not a team I’m high on. This is still a Padres team with severe defensive issues and injury questions in the starting rotation.
That being said, AJ Preller deserves a ton of credit for what he has done with this team. The Padres are going for it. They’ve kept their top prospects in the process and they’re spending money. The second wild card has changed everything and it is one of the few good moves of the Bud Selig era.
Big Feeling Blue Nation
Kentucky fell to 38-1 at the most inopportune time on Saturday when Wisconsin upset the #1 team in the country in the Final Four. It was a great win for the Badgers program and set up Monday night’s national championship game between Duke and Wisconsin. The Blue Devils had very little trouble with Michigan State in the other Final Four contest.
Where does Kentucky go from here? Well, the Harrison twins and Karl-Anthony Towns are assuredly moving on to the next level of their careers. That’s nothing new at a school like Kentucky, so John Calipari should land on his feet. However, the SEC is an improving conference with teams like LSU and Texas A&M making some serious strides. Kentucky is still the leader in the clubhouse to win the SEC next season, but the gap may be a bit more narrow.
Is this the most shocking upset ever in college basketball? Of course not. Kentucky looked less than invincible at several points throughout the season and it finally caught up with them. The Wildcats were not tested much during the SEC schedule and not really tested until Notre Dame had them on the ropes and should have beaten them. Wisconsin is as fundamentally sound as they come and that was the difference.
Previewing Duke vs. Wisconsin
This is a great national championship game between Duke and Wisconsin. It’s hard to find two better offensive teams in the nation and Duke showed that with a methodical takedown of Michigan State in the Final Four. The Badgers are one of the most efficient teams in the history of college basketball. Frank Kaminsky against Jahlil Okafor is a terrific matchup.
The thing about this game is that those two players probably won’t be the major keys to the game. Wisconsin has to find a way to slow down Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. The Big Ten lacked high-caliber guard play this season, which is a big reason why the conference was down as a whole. Jones and Cook are the driving force for Duke and Justise Winslow has been excellent during the tournament so far.
Another concern for Wisconsin is that this is a quick turnaround off of the win over Kentucky. There’s no such thing as a letdown spot in the national championship game, and the Badgers are a free and easy team as evidenced by their press conferences throughout the tournament, but it’s still a fast turnaround. The Badgers defense has not been particularly good in the tournament and they can ill afford to have letdowns against Duke.
Wisconsin money has come in the market for this one. As the public gets involved, I would expect the number to move back down.
We found out a lot yesterday in the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls played a fun, competitive game and LeBron James had a triple-double. It goes without saying that a second round matchup between those Central Division rivals would be a lot of fun. The Cavs shot the lights out and still had a bit of trouble with the Bulls, so that game could have exploited some matchup problems for Cleveland.
The Houston Rockets picked up yet another impressive win by knocking off the Oklahoma City Thunder. I still think they’re too dependent on James Harden to upend the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, but they’re the most intriguing team out west with a chance to do so.
Speaking of the Warriors, the oddsmakers were clearly onto something when the Warriors were a 5.5-point dog against the Spurs. San Antonio rolled to an easy 107-92 win in a game that wasn’t even that close. The key for the Spurs was that they defended the perimeter really well. The Warriors were 9-of-28 from deep and Steph Curry hit five of those nine distance shots. Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green were extremely efficient shooting the basketball and it’s clear that the Spurs took this game personally. I don’t think the Spurs would have the endurance to run up and down the floor with the Warriors in a long series, but it’s hard to say any team is playing better than San Antonio right now.
It was quite a night in the NHL with five games that directly impacted playoff races. The Pittsburgh Penguins scored one goal on 47 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether, though they do play Buffalo in Saturday’s season finale.
The biggest setback of the night belonged to the Ottawa Senators, who failed to secure the second point in their shootout loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators trail by two points in the hunt for the wild card spots and do not own any tiebreakers. They really needed that second point. It speaks to how stupid shootouts are to end a game, but that’s a topic for another day.
The Detroit Red Wings kept struggling and are in a three-way tie for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. The Washington Capitals clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Red Wings, but they can maintain home ice advantage over the New York Islanders in the first round by staying ahead of them. The Islanders are one point back with a game in hand.
The St. Louis Blues moved back ahead of the Nashville Predators in the Central Division. The Blues are two points behind Anaheim for first overall in the conference with a game in hand. The Blues do not own the tiebreaker over Nashville right now, so they’d prefer to win the division outright.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.