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 Tuesday March 31:
A Day in the Life of a College Basketball Coach
Monday was an interesting day in the college basketball world. A day after two more teams punched their tickets to Indianapolis for the Final Four, two coaches were let go, a third is being discussed, and some others were hired or received extensions. It’s that time of year in college hoops, where coaching staffs are hitting the recruiting trail or the unemployment line.
The biggest name to hit the chopping block was Rick Barnes of Texas. Barnes might be part feline, however, because he quickly landed on his feet with the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols fired Donnie Tyndall last week after failing in their vetting process. Tyndall is expected to be the subject of NCAA sanctions against Southern Miss and the Volunteers wanted no part of that hailstorm, so they let Tyndall go.
It will be interesting to see how Barnes does at Tennessee. He’s recruited some very good talent to Texas and Tennessee has a history of being a successful program. Barnes’s problem is that he has failed to develop that talent into national success over the last several years. Tennessee has the name recognition for recruiting and the SEC is there for the taking with one elite team and a couple on the rise.
In the meantime, Texas wasted no time going after one of the biggest names in the mid-major coaching market in Shaka Smart. Smart is the head coach at VCU and has done a tremendous job putting VCU in the national conversation among the country’s elite mid-major programs. Smart would be a home run hire for Texas. The Longhorns certainly recruit the athletes it takes to run Smart’s full court press defense and he’s a coach that players will want to play for.
News came out early Tuesday morning that Oklahoma State is looking at buying out the remainder of Travis Ford’s contract. Ford joins Barnes and Scott Drew as the coaching punching bags in the Big 12. It would hardly be a surprise to see Ford let go.
Steve Lavin was fired last week from St. John’s and his replacement is already in the fold. Former NBA player Chris Mullin, who played his college ball at St. John’s, is the new head coach. Mullin worked in some NBA front offices, including a stint with the Golden State Warriors, following his playing days. Mullin has no head coaching experience, but his career will automatically demand respect from the players.
There will be a lot more coaching changes around the country before the next season begins. A lot of assistant coaches will change locations and those are moves that barely move the needle with most sports bettors, but assistants are the lifeblood of any coaching staff. Try to keep up on everything you can so there’s less catching up to do when college hoops start up again in November.
A Day in the Life of a College Basketball Player
It’s also that time of year when players declare their futures. Some big names announced that they are heading to the NBA. The two biggest are Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier at Louisville. The Cardinals just lost to Michigan State in the Elite Eight and Harrell and Rozier wasted no time announcing their intentions. There seemed to be some in-fighting on the Cardinals roster between those two players and Rick Pitino and everything was exacerbated by the dismissal of Chris Jones. Those are two incredibly productive players for the Cardinals to replace, but Pitino recruits well and the school’s position in the ACC helps with getting freshmen talent to the school. Pitino is also expected to grab Cleveland State transfer Trey Lewis.
Myles Turner made the least surprising NBA Draft announcement ever. The 6’11” center was one of the country’s top recruits and will be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. Turner averaged 10 points and 6.5 rebounds in just 22 minutes per game this season.
R.J. Hunter, son of now-legendary Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter, is taking his talents to the NBA. Hunter told the media on Monday that he has tested the NBA Draft waters and will go somewhere between picks 15 and 35. Hunter and the Panthers gained notoriety after upsetting Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Hunter is going to be a long distance threat for the team that drafts him. His father became an instant celebrity after falling off of his chair on wheels when R.J. hit the game winner against Baylor.
In terms of returning players, Georges Niang returning for his senior season at Iowa State is an enormous announcement for the Cyclones and Fred Hoiberg. After losing DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim after last season, Niang’s return will leave the Cyclones in better shape than they entered this past season. The Cyclones also return Monte Morris, Jameel McKay (who was the best player for Iowa State in their loss to UAB), Naz Long, and will add two transfers. The Cyclones will be a trendy March Madness futures pick once again.
Monday Night in the NBA
No game was more exciting than the tank-off between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers won 113-111 in overtime in a surprisingly competitive game between two teams with nothing to play for. It was a best-case scenario for the Sixers, who played well and still lost. The Sixers have the third-best odds for the first overall pick, behind the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves, who were drubbed at home by Utah in a good revenge spot for the Jazz. The Lakers would lose their protected first-round pick to the 76ers if they fall out of the bottom five in the league. The Lakers are fourth, and comfortably within the bottom five, so it won’t be an issue.
Keep an eye on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Their win over Milwaukee on Monday night probably seals the deal that they will rest some players on Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons. It’s that time of year and the Hawks are a team that has already shown a propensity for resting players.
The Toronto Raptors are not extinct yet in the Eastern Conference. DeMar DeRozan stepped up when the team needed him most with 42 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Raptors to a comeback win over the Houston Rockets. Toronto got off to such a good start that they have only dropped to fourth in the Eastern Conference during their recent run of bad play, but this was a big win. James Harden had 31 in the loss for the Rockets, who keep playing well. The Rockets did receive the news that Patrick Beverley’s season is over following wrist surgery. The Raptors remain a team to avoid in the betting market.
NFL News and Notes
In an update to one of yesterday’s news bits, the punishments have been handed down in the scandals featuring the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns. The Falcons will forfeit a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and owner Arthur Blank will pay $350,000 worth of fines for pumping artificial crowd noise through the Georgia Dome speaker system. The NFL admitted that the punishment would have been stricter if the Falcons had experienced more success.
The Browns did not face any additional discipline for their texting scandal. General Manager Ray Farmer is suspended for the team’s first four games and the team was fined $250,000. It’s the cherry on top of a sh*t sundae from the Browns 2014 season. The team started 6-3 and went in the tank and now faces the next season with no starting quarterback, no Josh Gordon, the loss of a few key players, and morale at an all-time low, which is surprising for a team that has been terrible since 1999.
Matt Schaub will sign somewhere this week according to sources. Hopefully none of the fans in his new city show up on his front lawn after his pick preseason pick-six. Miles Austin signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and could be an interesting slot option for the team on third downs. BJ Raji is likely returning to the Packers.
Remember to pay some attention to the NFL at this time of the season just so that you are better prepared as the season gets closer.
The Kris Bryant Conundrum
The unpopular, yet smart, business decision has been made with Kris Bryant. The Chicago Cubs have sent the slugger down to Triple-A Iowa in order to allow the necessary 12 days to push back his free agency by one year. The Cubs would have control of Bryant through 2021 by simply waiting less than two weeks to call him up. The MLB Players Association and uber-agent Scott Boras both voiced their displeasure and threatened litigation. This format was agreed to by both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA a long time ago during collective bargaining agreement negotiations. The MLBPA is largely saving face here because this is a very public situation in a major market. Bryant is not on the Cubs’ 40-man roster and the MLBPA has never bothered with these types of situations before.
The Cubs are doing the smart thing, as almost anybody can see. Contrary to popular belief, this team is not a World Series contender. If they are, they should be one whether or not Bryant misses the team’s first nine games or not. Adding an extra year of control to Bryant when he is on track to earn what will probably be an obscene amount of money in 2021 is the right business decision. Winning is important, but so is long-term competitiveness. Bryant will be up on Day 13 or shortly thereafter.
Day of the Dog
Did you take the Buffalo Sabres yesterday after reading the Six Pack? You should have. The Sabres made it a perfect 6-for-6 for underdogs on the NHL card last night. The only home team to win was the Chicago Blackhawks, who were a home underdog against the Los Angeles Kings. Tampa Bay won a huge game at Montreal to close the gap in the Atlantic Division and Calgary’s win over Dallas was a big one in the Pacific Division coupled with Los Angeles’s loss.
Even if you're just a casual NHL fan, it’s good time to start watching the games because of the intensity and the atmosphere. Teams are playing playoff games just to get into the playoffs and that certainly increases the caliber of play. From a betting standpoint, be ready to lay inflated prices on teams fighting for playoff spots.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.