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 Wednesday February 11:
Survival of the Fittest
The Kentucky Wildcats survived their toughest test of the season from the physical LSU Tigers on Tuesday night. Those that followed along with our free pick on that game cashed an easy ticket on LSU and nearly shot the moon with the outright upset. It was a man’s game with 29 offensive rebounds and some tremendous individual performances. Jarell Martin nearly willed LSU to the upset with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Karl-Anthony Towns ripped down seven offensive boards, 13 total, and added 12 points for Kentucky.
There are a lot of ways to look at this game. For starters, Aaron Harrison, who had 23 in Kentucky’s win over Florida last weekend, was held to two points on 1-of-8 shooting. The silver lining to that is Kentucky found a way to win anyway. They were only 2-of-12 from deep and LSU had five more free throw attempts. It was also interesting to see how John Calipari spread out the playing time. Earlier in the season, the rotations were pretty standard and the first and second teams played around the same amount of time. But, Calipari relied on his big guns and it paid off.
From the LSU side, the Tigers are in outstanding shape. They’re a good, young team and have a great 2016 class coming in. The SEC is down overall this season, but LSU and Texas A&M have great classes coming in, Florida is going to get better, and Kentucky is obviously elite. There may be some more parity in the SEC over the next few years.
Personally, I felt that this game at LSU and next weekend’s game at Tennessee were the two most vulnerable spots for Kentucky. They squeaked past LSU and will host South Carolina as a big favorite on Saturday before Wednesday’s showdown in Knoxville. I do have to say that I’m concerned about Kentucky’s NCAA Tournament prospects and I think it’s time to start looking at other teams to win it all.
The Sacramento Kings have reportedly reached a deal with longtime NBA coach George Karl. As if the Western Conference needed to get any tougher, Karl has some talent to work with on the Kings roster and will get a top 10 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
To smooth over the transition, it would be wise for Karl to offer an assistant position to current head coach Tyrone Corbin. Corbin was forced into the interim head coaching role after Mike Malone was fired earlier this season and the players were very sympathetic towards Corbin when talking to the media on Tuesday. There’s no indication that Karl will do that, but it’s been an ugly situation in Sacramento that rubbed some players, especially DeMarcus Cousins, the wrong way.
Karl is expected to take over after the All-Star Break, so the Kings could be a team to play on going forward.
Sir Charles Sounds Off
Responding to a tweet by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Charles Barkley went off on the world of basketball analytics by using the age-old “he didn’t play the game” argument. Many of the smartest sports minds I’ve seen never played the game. Most of them have backgrounds in math, economics, or even law. As somebody who believes strongly in analytics across all sports, Barkley’s tirade strikes me as unnecessary and degrading. Anything that improves the game is good for the game. The parity in the Western Conference is a good example since those teams were all constructed in different ways.
Analytics and advanced statistics have been around forever, but they have become more commonplace since Michael Lewis’s Moneyball was published in the early 2000s and the movie further popularized the stats movement. People that don’t like advanced statistics take that stance because they are scared of things that they don’t understand. The formulas are complicated and there’s a language of acronyms and terms that go way over the common fan’s head.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion on the matter, but the constant fighting that goes on between the stats crowd and the “eye test” crowd, as I like to call them, is idiotic. There can be a symbiotic relationship between the two schools of thought. Analytics can quantify what the eyes see and assign a value to it. The eyes can see something that leads to a statistical study that benefits all parties. Taking a staunch position on either side is doing a disservice to the game, especially if somebody like Barkley, who, sadly, is in a position of influence with fans, discredits everything about analytics.
The NHL gave the green light to Bill Foley and the Maloof family to run an exploratory ticket drive that began on Tuesday. The goal is to see what kind of interest hockey would drum up in the city. Interested parties were to volunteer anywhere from $150 to $900 towards a season ticket deposit. It is one of many steps that the people of Las Vegas need to take for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to consider expansion. So far, more than 9,000 people have reached out and expressed interest in being a part of the new team in Las Vegas, so it’s off to a great start.
Arena construction is already underway and should be completed by next spring. Discussions have reportedly taken place with the arena builders and the NHL about very pricey expansion fee. The NHL has not added a new team since 2000. Due to recent realignment, the NHL has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 teams in the Western Conference, so the hope would obviously be to find another willing suitor to add another team out West. Seattle is an option and so is Portland, two cities that have Western Hockey League junior teams and arenas capable of hosting NHL-sized crowds, though improvements to the arenas need to be made in both cities. Salt Lake City could also be another option.
But, for now, the focus remains on Vegas. There are a lot of considerations to putting a team in Vegas, along with the fact that the population tends to be transient in nature and it’s more of a vacation destination than anything else. But, there are all kinds of partnership opportunities with casinos to drum up some attendance for the games and no shortage of ways to entice people to games. The glass appears more than half full for this venture.
Little League Litigation
After captivating the nation as the first all-black Little League team to win U.S championship in the Little League World Series, Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of their title after it was uncovered that head coach Darold Butler pulled players from outside of the team’s geographic area. Little League officials reportedly met to create a “super team” under false pretenses with the use of a map that did not have accurate boundary lines.
As a result of the announcement, the U.S. championship went to the Mountain Ridge Little League team from Las Vegas. This is the first big Little League scandal since it became known that Danny Almonte was 13 and not 11.
Let this serve as a reminder that sports betting is all that is wrong in the sports world and will unquestionably affect the legitimacy and sanctity of sport.
Alex Rodriguez is trying to rebuild his baseball career one step at a time and he spent time apologizing to the Yankees and owner Hal Steinbrenner on Tuesday. Rodriguez’s apology tour has also included several meetings with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. Rodriguez was suspended for the 2014 season for being an…I mean, for PED use and an ongoing feud with team officials and the league that included several lawsuits and plenty of false claims.
Rodriguez is probably done as a player anyway. After a year away from the game, the 39-year-old has dealt with injuries and would be a regular DH if he can find at bats. With Mark Teixeira and Garrett Jones already in the mix for 1B/DH at bats and Chase Headley at 3B, it’s hard to find a place for A-Rod to get playing time. He’s still owed a significant amount of money and there are other bonus clauses in place that both sides need to work out, but that will just be a long, drawn out battle after Rodriguez proves that he can no longer hit Major League pitching.
Keep an eye out for our New York Yankees win total analysis next Monday as we start unveiling all 30 teams beginning with the AL East.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.