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 March 16:
A Rant for the Ages
Well-known sports bettor Alan Boston took a gasoline-fueled fire to the NCAA Selection Committee shortly after the March Madness field was announced. It’s definitely worth a read.
In any event, the field is set for this year’s NCAA Tournament and there are a lot of surprises. Of course some teams were snubbed while others were over-seeded or under-seeded, as is always the case, but it’s sad to once again see the mid-majors in a position to either knock each other out or get knocked out before they have a chance to do some damage.
The most egregious example is probably the Dayton Flyers. The Atlantic-10 is a very formidable conference, yet Dayton was sent to the play-in game against Boise State, a team with some upside from the Mountain West Conference. The play-in game will be in Dayton on Wednesday night, so it should be an incredible environment for that game.
Another team that really got screwed is Manhattan. The Jaspers took down Iona in the MAAC Tournament and their prize for that is to run into Hampton in the play-in game and then likely move on to play Kentucky. The Jaspers are the type of team that can make a run because they are extremely well-coached by Steve Masiello and nobody wants to see Manhattan knock off a good team, at least in the minds of the committee and the NCAA. This may also be the committee’s way of closing the book on Masiello’s fictitious resume that kept him from getting hired at South Florida.
Stephen F. Austin, another team with upside, has to face Utah in the first round. If they get past the Utes, SFA could have an interesting Round of 32 matchup against Eastern Washington. North Dakota State is a consistent performer in the Summit League, but their tournament will come to a fast end against Gonzaga.
The Travis Ford-coached Oklahoma State Cowboys are going to be outcoached up and down the floor against the Oregon Ducks. The Cowboys shouldn’t even be in the field. Other teams with upside are far more deserving. Wichita State will have a coaching advantage over Bill Self in the second round if they can get past Indiana.
Tune in to both recordings of Handicapping the Hardwood this week on Monday night at 7 p.m. Eastern and on Wednesday afternoon. The guys will attempt to cover every first round game on Monday and look at some futures odds and possible second round matchups on Wednesday.
NBA News and Notes
LeBron James avoided disaster during a fall in the game against the Orlando Magic, though he acknowledged that he will receive treatment on the knee that he landed on. Kevin Love skipped the game for a maintenance day. Love has never really fit in offensively with the Cavs, as evidenced by the 123 points they scored without him.
Kyle Korver has a broken nose and that’s a big concern with a distance shooter like Korver. The Atlanta Hawks need that element of their offense to be successful and shooting with a mask tends to affect players. Keep an eye on that over the next few weeks because it may play a role in Hawks games.
Blake Griffin returned to the lineup for the Clippers in their loss to the Rockets. It may take a game or two for Griffin to get back into rhythm, but the Clippers are clearly better with his return. Give it a game for him and Paul to get back on the same page and then play on the Clippers because of the emotional boost Griffin’s return will have.
Manu Ginobli is hobbled by an ankle injury, which may or may not affect the Spurs. The Spurs are doing what championship-caliber teams do this time of year. They’ve coasted to this point, but they’re ready to step up and take charge of the season. Ginobli’s injury may upset their offensive rotations and depth, but it shouldn’t take much for Gregg Popovich to adjust and for the Spurs to get back on the right track.
MLB Spring Training Update
It’s been a few days since one of these and there are some key injuries to keep an eye on. The Mets are sitting on pins and needles right now. Reliever Josh Edgin will miss the 2015 season following Tommy John surgery, but the bigger story is that Zack Wheeler is going for an MRI for a forearm/elbow issue. This is a big deal because the Mets are expected to be one of the better teams in the NL East and a wild card is certainly within reach. There’s some decent starting pitching depth on the team, however, so don’t overreact if Wheeler is in fact hurt.
Yu Darvish officially made the decision to undergo Tommy John surgery. His 2015 season is over. Anthony Ranaudo, acquired from Boston in the Robbie Ross trade, is dealing with an elbow injury as well. The Rangers say he will make his next scheduled appearance, but it’s worth watching.
Chris Taylor was battling with Brad Miller for the starting shortstop spot for the Seattle Mariners, but the job will now go to Miller by default. Taylor suffered a broken wrist when he was hit by a pitch. In freak injury news, Kevin Pillar of the Toronto Blue Jays strained an oblique while sneezing. Pillar will get a lot of playing time this season with the injury to Michael Saunders.
UFC 185 Recap
Saturday night’s UFC 185 card started with a lot of chalk and ended with upsets in the title fights. Henry Cejudo, Alistair Overeem, and Johny Hendricks all dominated in the early matches with unanimous decisions. That set the stage for two very interesting title fights.
In the first one, reigning strawweight title holder Carla Esparza was upset by rapid riser Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who landed 49 more strikes in the technical knockout win. It was the only knockout of the evening. Rafael dos Anjos picked up the lightweight title by unanimous decision over Anthony Pettis. Dos Anjos dictated the pace and landed more strikes by being the aggressor for most of the night.
Looking at the UFC schedule, there are three Fight Night cards on the horizon on alternating Saturdays beginning this Saturday in Brazil. The next big UFC event will be April 25 in Montreal with title fights between Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw for the bantamweight belt and Demetrious Johnson and Kyoji Horiguchi for the flyweight belt.
Golf’s Bright Future
Those that watched the Valspar Championship over the weekend were treated to the future of golf. Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth put on a great show during the fourth round and Spieth picked up his fourth win overall and third in his last eight starts with a playoff victory over Reed and Sean O’Hair. The PGA Tour season has already featured eight playoffs to decide a winner.
Three events remain before the Masters begin on April 9. This week, the players don’t have to travel far. After wrapping up the Valspar at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, FL, the tour moves to Bay Hill in Orlando, FL for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Matt Every won last season’s event by one shot over Keegan Bradley and two shots over Adam Scott, who fired a final round 76 to fall out of the top spot.
Rising from the Phoenix
Kevin Harvick picked up his fourth straight win at Phoenix International Raceway over the weekend. For the second straight week, Chevrolets topped the leaderboard. Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, and recently-reinstated Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. Joey Logano led 35 laps and finished eighth to continue his solid start to the season.
It was a wire-to-wire domination for Harvick. He led 225 laps and won his second straight race. Harvick now has two first-place finishes and two second-place finishes through five races.
The Sprint Cup Series stays out west this week for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at California race at Auto Club Speedway. Kyle Busch led five laps at last season’s event but made them count because he won the race. Jimmie Johnson led 104 laps last season, but finished 24th.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.