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 3:
Conference Tournament Time is Here!
Even though the NCAA Tournament is technically considered March Madness, I would lump all of the conference tournaments in there as well. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I almost like conference tournament time more. The appeal of March Madness is in seeing Cinderella teams and top teams battle from different conferences, but full days of basketball during the early rounds of conference tournaments are pretty outstanding.
The Patriot League, Atlantic Sun Conference, and Horizon League all start on Tuesday. The most notable teams in the Patriot League are Bucknell and Lehigh. Bucknell, of course, had the huge upset win over Kansas back in 2005. Lehigh beat Duke in the 15 vs. 2 matchup back in 2012. Atlantic Sun Conference member Florida Gulf Coast captivated the nation in 2013 with their run to the Sweet 16. The Horizon League is a bit different without Butler, but Valparaiso and Wisconsin-Green Bay could be dangerous teams in March.
Thoughts on these conferences were included in Monday’s recording of Handicapping the Hardwood with Adam Burke and Kyle Hunter. Make sure to listen throughout the month of March with two shows per week to discuss the college basketball action.
Spring Training is Here!
Spring Training actually began on Sunday as MLB teams played against local colleges, but the MLB squads will start facing off against each other on Tuesday. The Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins were victorious over their opponents on Monday, but the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the University of Tampa on Sunday.
From a betting standpoint, a lot of sharp players like to play the Spring Training games because lineup information and scheduled pitchers are posted on Twitter by the beat writers. The feeling is that bettors can gain an edge by seeing who will be appearing in the game, even though the pitchers will work a maximum of two innings and the starting lineup players will usually make two plate appearances in these early games.
Many will argue that this is the best time to bet baseball because the rosters are so uneven. Spring Training betting lines have low limits and move very quickly, but those that are paying attention can make a nice profit to carry over into March Madness or the MLB season.
If you missed them earlier, make sure to check out the 30-team MLB Season Win Totals series. Numbers have moved, but the analysis is still the same. (Scroll through the pages. The link is the start of the NL West and going back in time will show all 30 teams.)
A Cavalier Attitude
The Virginia Cavaliers scored two points in the first 14 minutes of Monday night’s game against Syracuse. They won by 12. In the process, Virginia secured the regular season crown in the ACC for the second straight season. Tony Bennett is an outstanding coach and the way that the Cavaliers play defense is going to make them an incredibly tough out in the NCAA Tournament. A lot will be made of Virginia’s offensive struggles, but Justin Anderson should be back for the tournament.
Teams like Virginia that play elite defense are good to back in March because their defensive effort is always consistent. Teams that score a lot of points need their shots to fall because they are usually poor defensive teams or play a lot of possessions on a regular basis. There are some teams that have excellent balance, and they may be more attractive than Virginia, but it’s hard to argue with what the Cavaliers have done the last two seasons in one of, if not the best, conferences in the country.
What Virginia did on Monday night was really impressive, even if Syracuse is not a great team. It still feels like the Cavaliers are undervalued because they don’t win in an exciting way. There’s not a ton of value on them in March Madness right now, but it’s hard to see them losing before you can hedge for profit.
No Sympathy for the Blue Devils
The Duke student newspaper, The Chronicle, did a phenomenal reporting job regarding Rasheed Sulaimon’s dismissal from the Duke basketball team. Sulaimon was accused of sexual assault by two women. The bombshell in the report from The Chronicle is that Duke officials, including head coach Mike Krzyzewski reportedly knew about the allegations as early as March of 2014 and that the alleged incidents happened in the fall of 2013. That would mean that Duke sat on this news for 11 months before Sulaimon was removed from the team.
There’s a lot of grey area here because the women never reported the assault to university officials or the Durham Police Department. The Duke athletic department may have opted for the “innocent until proven guilty” approach with Sulaimon. The saddest part about all of this, if the allegations are true, is these two women kept their mouths shut because of what has happened at other universities in the past. Basketball is sacred at Duke, much like football is sacred in Tallahassee at Florida State. Everybody saw, very publicly, how badly the Tallahassee Police Department fumbled the Jameis Winston investigation and the uncomfortable press conference that followed with plenty of laughter and joking. Both women acknowledged that they were fearful of backlash from the students and fan base.
This will probably drift away into a non-story since Sulaimon is no longer a part of the team, but the increasing number of stories like this tied to college athletes is very disappointing.
A Busy Day in the NHL
The NHL Trade Deadline was on Monday and a lot of players packed their bags and moved to new cities. The Montreal Canadiens added Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn to add a little bit of depth to their collection of forwards. The Anaheim Ducks made a big splash by adding James Wisniewski from the Columbus Blue Jackets for William Karlsson, Rene Bourque, and a draft pick. The Vancouver Canucks added Sven Baertschi from Calgary for more depth. The Pittsburgh Penguins reacquired Ben Lovejoy for Simon Despres. The Minnesota Wild added Chris Stewart as the Buffalo Sabres fire sale continued. The Islanders added a safety net behind Jaroslav Halak by adding backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
Veterans and depth players are always on the move this time of year. The Red Wings added Marek Zidlicky. The St. Louis Blues added Zbynek Michalek and Olli Jokinen. The Penguins also added Ian Cole.
The best story to come out of the Trade Deadline happened between the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets have been ravaged by injuries all season long and they added Jordan Leopold earlier in the season. Leopold was traded to the Wild to help with their playoff push. Shortly after the trade, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen tweeted out this handwritten letter to the Minnesota Wild from Leopold’s daughter, Jordyn:
It isn't always just about business... pic.twitter.com/uVDV3K2Nky””
— Jarmo Kekalainen (@jkekalainen) March 2, 2015
A Boy Named Suh
Ndumakong Suh is officially on the open market. The Detroit Lions decided not to use the franchise tag on the defensive lineman because of very high costs. The Lions would have had to use $26.9M in cap space to keep him for one season with no guarantee of an extension. As a result, Suh is on the market. The Lions will still work to sign him without the use of the franchise tag, but Suh may want to test the open market. Nobody would blame him for that.
In other NFL news, the Dallas Cowboys officially tagged Dez Bryant and the Kansas City Chiefs used their franchise tag on Justin Houston. The New England Patriots franchised kicker Stephen Gostkowski and the Denver Broncos put the tag on Demaryius Thomas. The New York Giants used their tag to retain the services of Jason-Pierre Paul.
There will be a lot of speculation around the league with beginning of free agency on Saturday and unrestricted free agency open for business next Tuesday. It might be a good time to buy some futures stock in teams with a lot of cap space available. The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking at somewhere between $60-80M for free agency and the draft, so they could be a team on the rise. They won’t win the division or make the playoffs, but finding a win total on them could be profitable.
Remember what I said yesterday. Stay updated on the latest comings and goings in the NFL so that you don’t have to play catch up as the season approaches.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.