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 February 9:
A Legend Leaves Us
The sports world mourned the loss of former North Carolina Tar Heels head basketball coach Dean Smith, but it seems like a disservice to simply refer to him as that. It would be a mouthful to address Smith by using all of the accolades he accumulated during his career, but it could be the only way to do him justice. Smith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 from President Barack Obama, an honor that Smith’s wife, Linnea, accepted on his behalf due to his failing health. Smith was an Olympic gold medalist in 1976, a two-time National Champion, and was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
All of the sports accomplishments pale in comparison to what Smith’s accomplishments as a human being. Charlie Smith is common name in the history of the world and that may be a big reason why he is such an overlooked figure in sports history. Charlie Smith was the first African American scholarship athlete at North Carolina and Dean Smith was the reason why. He integrated areas of Chapel Hill that were marred by racism. The church that Smith helped construct was kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention and North Carolina Baptist Convention for allowing a gay man to be a minister.
Players raved about Smith as a head coach and many viewed him as a father figure and a mentor. Over 95 percent of his lettermen athletes graduated. With all of the wins, Final Fours, and coaching accolades, it’s safe to say that the graduation rate was one of the things he was most proud of.
Smith was 83 when he died peacefully at his home, surrounded by family.
Blake Griffin Goes Under the Knife
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin will miss somewhere between two and six weeks after undergoing a procedure to remove a staph infection from his elbow. The big man has dealt with elbow bursitis in the past, but the team trainer suggested that Griffin go to the hospital, where the results were found. Staph infections are very tricky to deal with and if the surgeon does not remove all of the infection or it cannot be fully eliminated with antibiotics, that is going to lengthen the timetable. Having recently experienced the damage that staph infections can inflict, it can be a touchy situation for the first few weeks and Clippers fans and basketball bettors should expect Griffin to miss closer to six weeks.
The Clippers are a mess right now. After Chris Paul made headlines by criticizing Lauren Holtkamp, one of the NBA’s two referees, the Clippers have lost two more games and have played no semblance of defense in that span. Their game in Dallas on Monday night could represent their fourth straight blowout loss. Griffin is a very important contributor and his absence is exacerbated by the loss of J.J. Redick. Without Redick, the Clippers have had trouble shooting from distance and without Griffin, they lose their only real offensive presence on the interior.
The Clippers may come out of the break re-focused, but fading them until Griffin returns could certainly be profitable.
Cuba Wins Caribbean Series Title
For the first time since 1960, Cuba won the Caribbean Series baseball championship. This is particularly interesting because Major League Baseball, the United States government, and the country of Cuba are trying to come to some new terms regarding players defecting from Cuba to come to the Major Leagues. This tournament was held in Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory, and several Major League scouts took in the event to scout the Cuban players.
Opening up Cuba for international free agent signings would be an incredible development for the game of baseball. Not all Cuban players make it big, but players like Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Fernandez all have different stories of defection. Many players have faced major life-altering events in trying to flee the island nation to get to America. Fernandez’s story is well-documented, about how he dove into the water to save a fellow defector that wound up being his mother.
One of the top remaining free agents, Yoan Moncada, is a Cuban defector who is still trying to get things in order to get to the United States and sign with a team. Rusney Castillo began his Major League career with the Red Sox last season. As the U.S. and Cuba try to come to terms on opening up each other’s borders to smooth out international relations, Major League Baseball and its fans could be big winners in this whole process. There’s a lot of talent in Cuba, as evidenced by this Caribbean Series championship, and having more of it in the big leagues will be great for the game.
Day Has His Day
Jason Day emerged victorious out of a four-man playoff at the Farmers Insurance Open over the weekend to pick up his third career PGA Tour victory. Day is an 18/1 shot to win the Masters and there could certainly be some money on him in the market as the 27-year-old racked up his third top-10 finish of the young season. Day has five top-10 finishes in Majors during his career and he’s going to win one at some point.
The demise of Tiger Woods became a back page story with the exciting final round at Torrey Pines. Woods withdrew on the 12th hole after shooting 2-over through the first 11. Woods cited the fog delay as the reason that he could not get loose, but injuries and inconsistencies have plagued him for the last couple of PGA Tour seasons and it’s hard to see an end in sight. The Honda Classic in three weeks will likely be Woods’s next event, and he will get the fanfare that follows him around no matter what shape he is in for that event. Unfortunately, we may never see the same Tiger Woods.
Coming up this week is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am at one of golf’s most iconic courses. Jimmy Walker won this event last season, despite a final round 74. Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth finished in the top five. We’ll keep you updated on the futures market for this one throughout the week.
#1 vs. #2
Women’s college basketball doesn’t get a whole lot of love, but #1 faces #2 tonight as the South Carolina Lady Gamecocks take their 22-0 record to Storrs, Connecticut to take on the Lady Huskies. UConn lost to Stanford earlier this season by an 88-86 score in overtime to snap their 47-game winning streak. The Huskies have won 21 straight since then and the smallest margin of victory was 18 points over then #2 Notre Dame.
As for the Gamecocks, they have pulled out a couple of close calls with a one-point win at Duke and a four-point win on a neutral floor against Syracuse. This is the 54th meeting in women’s college basketball history between the #1 and #2 teams. UConn is 16-3 in those matchups and 12-2 when they come in with the #1 ranking. The #1 team is 33-20 in the previous 53 games and has won 11 of the last 12, but this is a major step up in class for South Carolina.
The coaching matchup is very interesting in this game. Two of the heavy hitters in women’s college basketball are on the bench, as Dawn Staley leads the Gamecocks against Geno Auriemma. Auriemma became the fastest coach to 900 wins last week.
If you’re going to watch a women’s college basketball game, tonight’s is the one to watch.
A Stroke of Bad Luck
I feel bad even writing that headline, but the New York Rangers could be without Henrik Lundqvist for quite a while. Lundqvist suffered a freak throat injury when a shot got under his mask and caused a vascular injury. Lundqvist played against Florida last week, but told team doctors that he was experiencing headaches and his condition was evaluated further.
What the doctors found out was that Lundqvist suffered a blood vessel injury that could result in a stroke if he attempted to play through the problem. The official diagnosis was a sprained blood vessel. Lundqvist already told the media, and rightfully so, that he would not return until he was fully healthy and cleared to play.
The Rangers are in no danger of missing the playoffs. Cam Talbot is an adequate backup and Philadelphia is 11 points behind the Rangers, who have two games in hand, and the Flyers just lost goaltender Steve Mason to yet another injury. In all honesty, as scary as the diagnosis and potential repercussions of playing are for Lundqvist, it’s a good time to look to the Rangers for Stanley Cup futures odds. Lundqvist should be well-rested for the playoffs and the top four teams in the Metropolitan Division are separated by just four points, so these are comparable teams. Take a look at the NHL futures market and grab the best price you can find on the Rangers because a healthy, rested goalie come playoff time is like finding gold.
Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.