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August 19th, 2013

Some More B#!!$hit From Andrew Luck

By Robert Ferringo

I am firmly on the record as saying that Andrew Luck is not that good of a quarterback. I know that statement runs completely counter to the prepackage, mass-consumed bobblehead media storyline about Luck. But it is the truth. I have seen nothing from Luck to make me think he is anything more than an average NFL quarterback with amazing luck, especially when it comes to opponents .

And last night’s preseason game against the Giants was just another glaring example. Here is Andrew Luck’s NFL career to date, summed up in one throw:

If you want better video of this play you can go here.

This play really sums up everything about Luck to this point in his NFL career. It was an awful reaction to the pass rush, a terrible read, and a pathetic throw. Not only should that have been an interception by Aaron Ross, but when you consider the alignment for the Colts that could’ve been six points going the other way.

Instead, the ball takes a ridiculous bounce up in the air to Reggie Wayne, who then bats it further in the air before snagging it for a touchdown.

It would be unbelievable. Except that was Luck’s entire 2012 season.

Luck also had a dicey throw on his first possession. He was scrambling near his own goal line when he flung an ill-advised pass toward Colby Fleener. That one wasn’t picked off – and I’m not saying it should have, like the one Ross obviously should’ve grabbed – but it was another questionable decision by Luck in the shadow of his own end zone.

But as long as Luck has Wayne and T.Y. Hilton to bail him out on this garbage he will continue to get praise heaped upon him.

Posted at 9:42 am | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 14th, 2013

Robert Ferringo MLB Handicapping: MLB Series Prices Picks And Analysis For June 14-16

By Robert Ferringo

It’s Friday and that means its time to break down the MLB series prices posted for this weekend’s action. Most of this weekend’s series are pretty mismatched, with five of the 12 series featuring -200 odds or worse. Three series started yesterday so they are off the board.

Here is a breakdown of this weekend’s MLB series prices:

Los Angeles Dodgers (+120) at Pittsburgh (-140) - TAKE PITTSBURGH
I actually really like this matchup for the Pirates. The Dodgers are about to get hit with suspensions from their bean-brawl with the Diamdonbacks earlier this week. They are going to lose Yasiel Puig, who was throwing haymakers in the fights against Arizona, and when you think about how many games he has singlehandedly won for the Dodgers recently, and then compare that to just how few games the Dodgers have actually won lately, you can see why the Pirates are the play here. Pittsburgh is 13-4 at home and have won five of six home series.

Milwaukee (+190) at Cincinnati (-230)
It is a divisional series and a rivalry series so that would make me think about the underdog here – if it were anyone but the loser Brewers. The home team has won nine of 10 in this series and the Reds are 23-7 in their last 30 at home against the Brewers.

Chicago Cubs (+115) at New York Mets (-135)
Losers. I hate the fact that these two loser teams are facing off because now I can’t bet against one or both of them. I wouldn’t touch this series. The Cubs avoid facing Matt Harvey but they also don’t get an appearance from Jeff Smardzija.

St. Louis (-220) at Miami (+180)
I can’t, in good conscience, recommend playing a road favorite at 2-to-1. But how else are you supposed to play this one?

San Francisco (+180) at Atlanta (-220)
I know that the Giants have been pathetic on the road, losing 10 of their last 14 games and 13 of 33 away from home, but this number seems high. The Giants swept the Braves last month at home and now they are trifling with the best home team in baseball. But how long can the Brave win at home at a 75 percent clip?

Philadelphia (+140) at Colorado (-160) - TAKE PHILADELPHIA
This number is completely out of whack. I know the Phillies aren’t any good. But Troy Tulowitski is out for 4-6 weeks and Carlos Gonzalez is questionable for Friday and Saturday. Starting centerfielder Dexter Fowler is doubtful, and Michael Cuddyer just got back from injury. This team is banged up and they aren’t throwing any aces at the Phillies. I think Philadelphia, which admittedly has been struggling as well, offers a ton of value here as a mis-priced underdog. I definitely have cash down on the Phils to get two of three here.

Arizona (-110) at San Diego (-110) - LEAN SAN DIEGO
Just like with the Dodgers-Pirates series, this one depends on the suspensions levied against the Diamondbacks from the brawls on Tuesday. I am confident that Ian Kennedy is going to get bounced from his start on Sunday, which means the Padres will get their licks in on a spot starter. San Diego has been hot and they are catching Arizona in a letdown spot. I lean on the hot home team here.

Detroit (-210) at Minnesota (+170)
These odds are way too strong and the value here is on the Twins. Detroit is not that good on the road. They just aren’t the same team away from Motown. Hell, they just dumped a series in Kansas City this week and the Royals aren’t playing nearly as well as Minnesota right now. The Twins are 10-6 in their last 16. And for a bad team like them it doesn’t get much better. Minnesota avoids Justin Verlander this weekend as well. So even though they will be outgunned in general at least you know they’ll have a shot in all three games.

Chicago White Sox (-220) at Houston (+180)
There is absolutely no way that I would trust the White Sox at 2-to-1 on the road. Houston is pathetic. And Chicago was showing some signs last week. But a worse Astros team took two of three in Chicago last year. This is actually a four-game set, also, which means the White Sox would have to take three games to make this one pay out. Not worth the effort.

N.Y. Yankees (+130) at L.A. Angels (-150)
These two asshole teams can have each other. They are both erratic and I have dumped more money than I care to admit on both of them, particularly with the Yankees getting swept by the Mets and the Angels exploits against Houston. I still am stunned about both of those happenings. Either way, fuck these two teams.

Seattle (+155) at Oakland (-175)
The last time the A’s lost Yoenis Cespedes to the disabled list they went into a little funk. He sat out yesterday’s (garbage) win over the Yankees and is questionable for this weekend’s series. As most of you know, I have been very disappointed with Seattle this year. They did split a four-game series here to start the year. But Seattle’s only road series win in the last two months came (shockingly) over the Yankees. Seattle is just 9-9 in their last 18 games (which came after an eight-game losing streak) and I don’t know that they have the goods.

Washington (-105) at Cleveland (-115)
This is another series play that I endorse. The Indians have been struggling, without a doubt, but they have won seven straight at home against a National League team and they are 16-6 in their last 22 home games. The raggedy Nationals pulled off an upset series win over Colorado this week. But that was thanks to a lucky one-run win on Thursday over the Rockies when Colorado lost three of their best players. The Nats are just 4-9 in their last 13 road games and 4-11 as a road dog. The Nationals are leading with strength though, trotting out aces Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman, and then following with Stephen Strasburg coming off the DL. Those pitching matchups are keeping these series numbers tight. But the Indians are just too tough at home. They are the play.

Posted at 2:25 pm | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 13th, 2013

Robert Ferringo NBA Handicapping: NBA Finals Spreads A Clinic In Reading Lines

By Robert Ferringo

One of the most important skills for any sports handicapper or gambler is the ability to read a line. I always say that gambling isn’t magic, it’s mathematics. And these NBA Finals spreads have really been a clinic in how the books work and how being able to interpret the odds can lead to successful sports betting.

Let’s start with Game 1. Miami was installed as a 5.5-point favorite to defend its home court and open the series with the win. That was a steady number, conducive to a -250 moneyline, which the books also offered.

But what tipped me off about this spread is that it was thick compared to the series odds. I was seeing the Heat series price at -210 at a lot of books. Now, the team that wins Game 1 wins the series over 70 percent of the time. So the odds on this first game (-250) weren’t exactly in line with the odds for the series (-210) even though the two things – a win in Game 1 – aren’t exactly mutually exclusive.

So the books were jacking up the spread a bit. That’s not uncommon. They knew the public would be pouring money into the Heat. But this little deductive reasoning by a professional handicapper, namely, moi, led to a winning bet on the Spurs because the books were essentially offering me a free point on the spread. (The odds should’ve been 4.5).

So let’s move forward to Game 2. San Antonio won the first game, seized control of the series, and had stunned the Heat and their backers. The Spurs were now favored to win the series (-120) and had stolen home court advantage. And they did all this despite having to overcome a nine-day layoff and a sluggish first half. You’d think the books would lower the price on the Heat, maybe decreasing the odds down to 4.0 or 4.5 where they probably should’ve been in Game 1.

Well, the books responded by making the Heat a six-point favorite. They were actually a stronger favorite in Game 2 despite losing. Well, they responded with one of the best halves of basketball of the season, winning 103-84 and evening up the series.

I figured the Spurs would be 4.5-point favorites in Game 3. After all, I still think they are a better team and that they are playing better at the right time. San Antonio has a sizeable home court advantage of its own, on top of the experience and coaching edges. That’s gotta count for something to counteract the Heat hype, right?

Nope.

San Antonio was a steal at -2.0. The public probably felt that Miami had righted the ship after Game 2. And the images of them running off a 33-5 run to dominate bumbling San Antonio in the second half were fresh in people’s mind. (That’s the recency effect in full force.)

Well, the Spurs won by almost 40. So that was easy.

Which leads us to Game 4. San Antonio is coming off one of its best postseason performances ever. Miami looks to be in full-blown meltdown mode. And at this point we can admit that the Spurs are the better team, right?

The spread for Game 4 is -1.5. The Spurs won by almost 40 and they are favored by even LESS in this next game.

So now it is decision time for bettors. If we read the tea leaves here, it looks like this bet should be on Miami. Just like the counterintuitive movement after Game 1 – instead of the spread going down, it went up – we have a counterintuitive movement after Game 3. This spread, by all logic, should go up. The Spurs should be 4.5-point favorites in this game, right? At least. But the spread has moved the other way.

Or is this still just the books playing into the public’s stubborn refusal to abandon the Heat? Early betting has 60 percent of the action in Thursday night’s contest on Miami. Is this sharp action? Are bettors seeing what I see? Or is this just squares doubling-down on Miami despite all the obvious signs pointing to the fact that they are going to lose this series?

That right there is where the decision lies. Good luck with whatever you choose – as long as it isn’t the opposite side of what I choose!

Posted at 9:20 am | Permalink | Comments (1)
June 12th, 2013

Robert Ferringo NBA Handicapping: Finals Series Odds Swinging, Dick

Oh the wild swings of a seven-game series.

Entering the NBA Finals the Heat were a preposterous -210 favorite to win the NBA Title. The books didn’t do this because they thought the Heat would walk through the Spurs in this series. They set those odds because they knew the squares in the betting public were just lining up to pour money into LeBron’s attempt at back-to-back titles.

One little problem: the Heat have looked like shit over the last two months and should be a negligible favorite at best in this series.

Instead, San Antonio was offering ridiculous +190 odds – nearly a two-to-one payback – despite the fact that they were the better team in the series.

Sure enough, San Antonio wins Game 1 thanks to a vintage LeBron/Heat collapse as well as an absurd shot by Tony Parker, and the betting public was stopped in its tracks. After Game 1 the Spurs became -125 favorites to win the series, with the Heat at +105, thanks to the fact that 70 percent of the time the team that wins Game 1 wins the series.

Well, then Miami bounced back with a dominating second half in Game 2. They evened things up with a 103-84 win and now everyone is back on the bandwagon. Miami went back to -150 to win the series with San Antonio at +125.

Now after another blowout, this time by the Spurs, the odds have continued to swing. Today San Antonio is -130 to win the NBA title – still shockingly low considering all the advantages they have right now – while Miami is hailing +115 odds.

So here we are, heading into a pivotal Game 4, with the Spurs posted as just a 1.5-point favorite. If they win they will essentially lock down the title and most books will probably either jack the Spurs futures odds up to -300 or they will pull the bet altogether.

And after watching the Spurs beat Miami by 40 and watching the Heat roll over, who really thinks that Miami is going to come back to win this series?

But if the Spurs lose Game 4 then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miami be instilled as a favorite to take the title yet again. After all, if they win just one game in San Antonio then the Spurs would have to clinch the title on Miami’s home court. I have a hard time seeing them winning Game 6, which means that it could all come down to an epic Game 7, in which the Heat would have to be a heavy favorite.

So stay tuned. I have a feeling that this series is going seven games. Miami is the bigger, stronger, more athletic team. But they clearly have a ton of mental issues. San Antonio is a better ‘team’ and they are playing better basketball right now. So it’s a classic Talent vs. Cohesion matchup going forward. I nearly always side with Cohesion. And since I’ve already laid out bets on the Spurs to win the title I am doing so once again.

Posted at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Comments (1)
June 12th, 2013

Robert Ferringo MLB Report: Wednesday, June 12

By Robert Ferringo

Here are some random and scattered thoughts, tips, trends, musings, and stray observations for today’s MLB action:

- Source tells me that it is very hot and very humid in Baltimore, and that the ball is carrying during batting practice. Might want to think about ‘over’ 9.5. Jerome Williams has been outstanding for the Angels over the last month or so. But he got bumped to the bullpen and now pulled out for a start. I think that’s messed with his head and I expect a bit of a downturn from him over the rest of the season. The guy has a 4.42 ERA since 2005. So a 2.87 ERA to start the year is a bit of an anomaly. His regression could be harsh.

- The Reds are 42-15 in their last 57 games against the Cubs. That is stunning domination of a division rival. Cincinnati has won 21 of 28 meetings in Wrigley and pounded the Cubs on Monday and Tuesday. This trend is an automatic play.

- Was looking at the ‘under’ in the Atlanta-San Diego game. Paul Maholm will benefit from the afternoon start and spacious PetCo Park. But the wild card here is Edinson Volquez. I’ve essentially given up on the guy. He showed incredible stuff – great movement, good feel, aggressive approach – from 2008 to 2010. He was hurt and ineffective in 2011. But Volquez was really good for most of last year. This year he has been a train wreck, consistently getting lit up, like last week’s two-inning, nine-run gem at Colorado. He has just four quality starts in 13 outings this year. Which guy is going to show up and how long do we wait? The Padres are a team on the rise. They are threatening .500 and have been a steady earner the last few weeks. They can’t take that next step without the guy that has the best pure stuff in the rotation.

- Yoenis Cespedes left last night’s game with a tight hamstring. He is questionable tonight but I will be really surprised to see him. The A’s went just 4-10 when he was out with an injury in April and it is not a coincidence that his return coincided with Oakland’s phenomenal May and June runs.

- Ross Ohlendorf sighting! He is getting the not for the Nationals. That is how ugly it’s gotten for them. Ohlendorf is an automatic fade. Since 2010 his teams have gone 14-25 when he starts and Ohlendorf has a 5.75 ERA. I couldn’t be happier that he’s back in the rotation. He was 4-5 with a 4.27 ERA in Triple-A so far this season.

- Arizona’s Patrick Corbin is 12-0 so far this year but he is posted as an underdog in tonight’s start against the Dodgers. I am a big Hyun-Jin Ryu fan but I am perplexed by these odds.

- I am kicking myself for not betting against Houston last night. But as much as I would like to keep kicking them today – the Astros are 45-108 in their last 153 games – I just can’t bring myself to back Jeremy Bonderman, who is pathetic and is coming off one of the best games of his life. Besides, Houston’s Jordan Lyles has quietly been very good lately, posting a 2.03 ERA in his last five starts. It’s a stoppable force (Bonderman) against a moveable object (Houston).

- The Twins are kind of hot right now. I’m sure it won’t last. But they are 9-5 in their last 14 games and are a team to keep an eye on. They lost their last two series. But that was thanks almost solely to a doubleheader sweep on Sunday at the hands of the Nationals.

- The Cardinals are 39-18 in their last 57 games overall, 41-17 against a right-handed starter and 22-7 in their last 29 road games. Yeah, they’re good.

- The Mets are 22-46 in their last 68 road games. Mets fans are masochists.

- Where’s Ubaldo? Jiminez was terrible through most of April (he gave up 18 runs in 11 inningd during one three-game stretch), then was great in May (five runs in 24 innings during four straight wins), and has since swung wildly between pathetic (11 runs in seven innings in two starts against Detroit) and profitable (two runs in 15 innings against the Reds and Rays). Who is going to show up whenever this guy takes the mound? Cleveland is 4-12 in his 16 road starts.

- Cleveland is just 21-48 on the road and 18-44 as a road underdog. They are just 25-51 against teams above .500.

- The Rangers are 77-32 in their last 109 games following a loss. They are the best bounce back team in baseball. But they are going with Nick Tepesch again today. He’s dumped four straight starts, and six of seven, and its time to start talking about whether or not this kid is ready to be a Major League starter. I know he has a 3.92 ERA on the season. But he’s given up five or more runs in three of seven starts and has failed to go more than six innings in the other four.

- I know Francisco Liriano has been paying out. But the guy has been wild as hell. Now he’s a -170 favorite against a Giants team that hits lefties hard? I think Liriano’s value has reached a tipping point.

- The Giants still hit lefties (18-8 against road southpaws) but they are just 3-9 in their last 12 road games and are 12-19 on the season outside of The Bay.

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Posted at 11:37 am | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 10th, 2013

Golden Nugget Releases Early College Football Spreads And Betting Odds

By Robert Ferringo

The Golden Nugget released college football odds and spreads on 250 college football games for the upcoming season. While this does not include spreads for the entire college football schedule, it does provide odds for the top nonconference games of the 2013 college football season as well as the key conference tilts.

Obviously these spreads are soft. There will be some big changes as the season unfolds. And even if you found a line on an October game that you really loved, the books that release these early odds generally place a $500 max on any individual bet.

However, I always like to have these early numbers because it creates a baseline for expectations. So much of handicapping and betting is understand the market expectations and then playing off who is overvalue and undervalued by the general public.

Also, it’s just fun seeing how quickly and easily football can steal the spotlight from baseball in the middle of June with a spread on a Mississippi State-South Carolina game in November.

Here are the early 2013 college football spreads from the Golden Nugget:

Thursday, August 29
UNLV at Minnesota (-13)
North Carolina at South Carolina (-12)
Mississippi at Vanderbilt (+4)

Saturday, August 31
Washington State at Auburn (-11.5)
Northwestern (-10.5) at California
Nevada at UCLA (-15)
Colorado vs. Colorado State (-3.5)
Temple at Notre Dame (-24)
Penn State (-6.5) vs. Syracuse
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (-14)
BYU (-3.5) at Virginia
Boise State at Washington (-2)
Alabama (-17) vs. Virginia Tech
Georgia (-3.5) at Clemson
LSU (-4) vs. TCU

Monday, September 2
Florida State (-13) at Pittsburgh

Saturday, September 7
Washington State at USC (-21)
South Carolina at Georgia (-4)
Syracuse at Northwestern (-13)
South Florida at Michigan State (-16)
Notre Dame at Michigan (Pick ‘em)
San Diego State at Ohio State (-21.5)
West Virginia at Oklahoma (-16)
Texas (-7.5) at BYU
Oregon (-21) at Virginia
Florida (-2.5) at Miami
Arizona (-17) at UNLV

Thursday, September 12
TCU (-4) at Texas Tech

Saturday, September 14
Mississippi State (-1) at Auburn
Wisconsin at Arizona State (Pick ‘em)
Ohio State (-21) at California
Boston College at USC (-21.5)
Nevada at Florida State (-26)
Iowa at Iowa State (-4)
Louisville at Kentucky (+14)
UCLA at Nebraska (-6)
Tulsa at Oklahoma (-18)
Alabama (-6) at Texas A&M
Mississippi at Texas (-8)
Oregon State at Utah (-6)
Washington (-11) vs. Illinois
Central Michigan at UNLV (-4)
Tennessee at Oregon (-25)
Notre Dame (-14) at Purdue
Vanderbilt at South Carolina (-11)

Thursday, September 19
Clemson (-11) at North Carolina State

Saturday, September 21
Oregon State (-6.5) at San Diego State
Arizona State at Stanford (-10)
Michigan (-12) at Connecticut
Tennessee at Florida (-12)
North Carolina at Georgia Tech (-4.5)
Michigan State at Notre Dame (-6)
Auburn at LSU (-18)
West Virginia (-2) at Maryland
Arkansas at Rutgers (Pick ‘em)
Kansas State at Texas (-9)
Utah at BYU (-7.5)
Colorado State at Alabama (-41)

Thursday, September 26
Virginia Tech (-1) at Georgia Tech

Saturday, September 28
Texas A&M (-17) at Arkansas
USC at Arizona State (Pick ‘em)
Miami (-10) at South Florida
LSU at Georgia (-6)
Southern Mississippi at Boise State (-21.5)
Oklahoma at Notre Dame (-2)
Florida (-20) at Kentucky
Florida State (-17) at Boston College
Wisconsin at Ohio State (-11)
Colorado at Oregon State (-22)
Wake Forest at Clemson (-21)
Arizona at Washington (-5)
Stanford (-18.5) at Washington State
Oklahoma State (-11) at West Virginia
Mississippi at Alabama (-17)
South Carolina (-14) at Central Florida
California at Oregon (-34)

Thursday, October 3
Texas (-12) at Iowa State
UCLA (-5) at Utah

Saturday, October 5
Washington at Stanford (-10)
Oregon (-37) at Colorado
Arkansas at Florida (-17)
Ohio State (-8) at Northwestern
Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (-4)
Minnesota at Michigan (-15)
Clemson (-8) at Syracuse
Kansas State at Oklahoma State (-9)
TCU at Oklahoma (-9)
Louisville (-17) at Temple
West Virginia at Baylor (-7)
North Carolina at Virginia Tech (-6.5)
LSU (-9) at Mississippi State
Michigan State (-9) at Iowa
Georgia Tech at Miami (-7)
Kentucky at South Carolina (-23.5)
Georgia (-11) at Tennessee

Thursday, October 10
Arizona at USC (-7)
Rutgers at Louisville (-10)

Friday, October 11
Temple at Cincinnati (-18)

Saturday, October 12
South Carolina (-12) at Arkansas
Colorado at Arizona State (-27)
California at UCLA (-16.5)
Missouri at Georgia (-18)
Alabama (-30) at Kentucky
Florida at LSU (-4)
Texas A&M (-4) at Mississippi
Michigan (-2.5) at Penn State
Boston College at Clemson (-22)
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Pick ‘em)
Georgia Tech at BYU (-3)
Stanford (-13) at Utah
Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech (-13.5)
Oregon (-14) at Washington
Oregon State (-13) at Washington State
Northwestern at Wisconsin (-6)
Baylor at Kansas State (-5)

Thursday, October 17
Miami at North Carolina (Pick ‘em)

Friday, October 18
Central Florida at Louisville (-11)

Saturday, October 19
Washington at Arizona State (-5)
Utah at Arizona (-12)
UCLA at Stanford (-10)
Oregon State (-13) at California
Minnesota at Northwestern (-15)
USC at Notre Dame (-5)
Florida (-6) at Missouri
LSU at Mississippi (-2)
Iowa at Ohio State (-23)
TCU at Oklahoma State (-10)
Florida State at Clemson (-2)
Georgia (-10) at Vanderbilt
Auburn at Texas A&M (-24)
Arkansas at Alabama (-29)
Washington State at Oregon (-35.5)

Friday, October 25
Boise State at BYU (-1)

Saturday, October 26
Utah at USC (-18)
Arizona (-20) at Colorado
North Carolina State at Florida State (-20)
Louisville (-13) at South Florida
Oklahoma State (-14) at Iowa State
South Carolina (-7) at Missouri
Penn State at Ohio State (-16)
Texas Tech at Oklahoma (-14)
Stanford (-3) at Oregon State
Vanderbilt at Texas A&M (-16)
California at Washington (-17)
Tennessee at Alabama (-27)
Notre Dame (-18) at Air Force
Northwestern (-12) at Iowa
West Virginia at Kansas State (-9)
UCLA at Oregon (-20)
Texas (-3) at TCU
Arizona State (-15) at Washington State

Friday, November 1, 2013
USC at Oregon State (-2)

Saturday, November 2
Auburn at Arkansas (-3.5)
Arizona (-11) at California
Colorado at UCLA (-22)
Miami at Florida State (-8)
Georgia (-4) vs. Florida
Navy at Notre Dame (-18)
Michigan at Michigan State (-3)
North Carolina (-2.5) at North Carolina State
Illinois at Penn State (-19)
Kansas at Texas (-31.5)
Clemson (-13.5) at Virginia
Iowa State at Kansas State (-13.5)
Ohio State (-17) at Purdue
Mississippi State at South Carolina (-15)
West Virginia at TCU (-10)

Thursday, November 7
Oregon (-4) at Stanford
Oklahoma (-6) at Baylor

Friday, November 8
Louisville (-10.5) at Connecticut

Saturday, November 9
UCLA at Arizona (-4)
USC (-17) at California
TCU at Iowa State (+9.5)
Nebraska at Michigan (-4)
Penn State at Minnesota (+8)
Florida State at Wake Forest (+18)
Kansas at Oklahoma State (-29)
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (+10.5)
BYU at Wisconsin (-8)
Texas at West Virginia (+12)
LSU at Alabama (-11.5, 39.5)
Virginia Tech at Miami (-3.5)
Auburn at Tennessee (-8)

Thursday, November 14
Georgia Tech at Clemson (-9)

Friday, November 15
Washington at UCLA (-2)

Saturday, November 16
Georgia at Auburn (+15)
Oregon State at Arizona State (-4.5)
Washington State at Arizona (-19)
Stanford at USC (-1)
Syracuse at Florida State (-16)
Michigan at Northwestern (-3)
Houston at Louisville (-17)
Michigan State at Nebraska (-6)
Iowa State at Oklahoma (-20)
Purdue at Penn State (-13.5)
Oklahoma State at Texas (-6.5)
Alabama at Mississippi State (+23)
Ohio State at Illinois (+23)
TCU at Kansas State (-4.5)
Utah at Oregon (-28.5)
Florida at South Carolina (-5)

Saturday, November 23
Oregon at Arizona (+12)
California at Stanford (-22)
Arizona State at UCLA (-3)
USC at Colorado (+24.5)
Kentucky at Georgia (-29)
Michigan State at Northwestern (-3)
BYU at Notre Dame (-11)
Memphis at Louisville (-24)
Texas A&M at LSU (-1, 47.5)
Wisconsin at Minnesota (+10)
Indiana at Ohio State (-25)
Baylor at Oklahoma State (-11)
Washington at Oregon State (-5)
Nebraska at Penn State (Pick)
Michigan at Iowa (+10.5)
Oklahoma at Kansas State (+4)
Virginia at Miami (-15)
Vanderbilt at Tennessee (-1)

Thursday, November 28
Texas Tech at Texas (-16)
Mississippi at Mississippi State (+6.5)

Friday, November 29
Iowa at Nebraska (-14)
Miami at Pittsburgh (+7)
Washington State at Washington (-14)
Iowa State at West Virginia (-7.5)
Oregon State at Oregon (-16)

Saturday, November 30
Alabama at Auburn (+24)
Arizona at Arizona State (-5)
Notre Dame at Stanford (-5.5)
UCLA at USC (-7)
Florida State at Florida (-2, 44)
Georgia at Georgia Tech (+9)
Tennessee at Kentucky (+7.5)
Arkansas at LSU (-17)
Minnesota at Michigan State (-14)
Ohio State at Michigan (+6, 50.5)
Texas A&M at Missouri (+13)
Virginia Tech at Virginia (+10)
Penn State at Wisconsin (-9)
Northwestern at Illinois (+13)
Kansas State at Kansas (+21.5)
BYU at Nevada (+7.5)
Clemson at South Carolina (-4.5)
Baylor at TCU (-5)

Thursday, December 5
Louisville at Cincinnati (+3)

Saturday, December 7
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (-3)
Texas at Baylor (+8)

Saturday, December 14
Army vs. Navy (-9)

Posted at 2:49 pm | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 6th, 2013

What I’m Watching For To Handicap The NBA Finals

By Robert Ferringo

So the handicappers at Doc’s Sports appear split on the NBA Finals Game 1 between the Spurs and the Heat. One handicapper has a big play on the Heat. One has a big play on the Spurs. Another has a big play on the total. The line of thought is all over the map and kind of reflects the general feeling about this championship series.

Me? I’m taking a wait-and-see approach. I am passing on tonight’s Game 1 because I actually want to see how the team’s matchup before I dive into the pool. My long-term clients already have a position on the Heat, whom we took to win it all at the outset of the playoffs. But I have to tell you: I’m not feeling all that confident in that at the moment.

Miami has looked like garbage so far this postseason. Ray Allen is a waste of life. Their big men, who really played a big role in last year’s title run, have been soft and nonexistent. Dwyane Wade’s struggles have been well documented. And Chris Bosh has been, well, Chris Bosh. Basically, if you took LeBron James away from this team they might have lost to Milwaukee in Round 1, and the Bucks might have been one of the worst playoff teams in the last decade (or so).

On the other hand is San Antonio, which is coming off a nine-day layoff. There is a lot to like about the Spurs. Their veteran core has the same savvy and experience that Dallas used to beat the Heat two years ago. They are one of the few teams with the physical size and strength in the post to bang with Miami. They have a massive advantage with their coach, and they get the added bonus of embracing the underdog role in this series.

But I can’t jump all-in with the Spurs. How are they going to defend? How are they going to hold back Miami on the perimeter? Are the Spurs too soft and is this going to be another postseason fail for a team that is much better over the long-term of the regular season than in the win-or-else fishbowl of the playoffs?

Here are a few things I’m going to be watching for in tonight’s Game 1 matchup:

1. Can San Antonio defend the Heat?

No one can stop LeBron. So I’m not really focused on the Kwahi Leonard vs. James matchup. No, Leonard can’t stop James. But can Tony Parker, Manu, Danny Green, Gary Neal and company stop the Heat on the perimeter? I know Miami is not Golden State. But the Heat have several guys – Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers are sneaky-good, Dwyane Wade can be a force if he can find his legs, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Ray Allen can still hit – that can score from the perimeter. How will the Spurs matchup?

2. How do the Spurs attack the Heat defense?

I just get the sense that while the Spurs are the more skilled team, Miami is just too big and strong for them. Part of this is born out of the stylistic East-West differences and part of it is born out of San Antonio’s elevated age. But how will that impact the flow of this one? Is San Antonio going to focus on Duncan and Spillter in the post since the Heat don’t really have any guys to matchup with them? Will the Spurs shooters be able to get their shots off? Who is LeBron James going to guard and what aspect of San Antonio’s attack will the Heat focus on stopping? I need to see some chess pieces in motion.

3. Are Wade and Bosh up to the task?

Wade has been a non-factor. But if he has been playing possum, or if he can power through whatever ailment has been holding him back, then the Heat have two superstars to lean on. Bosh has not been very good this postseason. He needs to play at Duncan’s level for the Heat to have a chance at winning this one and he hasn’t shown an ability to do that. LeBron cannot win this series by himself. He could barely beat Indiana by himself. If one of the other two members of the “Big Three” don’t play up to the level of their hype then San Antonio will have a great shot to get another ring.

4. What pace are we going to see in this one?

The Spurs are at their best when they are playing up-tempo. The Heat have appeared most vulnerable when they have been slowed down and forced to execute in the half-court. So what does San Antonio do? And will they even have a say; will it be the Heat that dictate tempo at home?

I have a hard time seeing this as a high-scoring series. The one play I was going to make in the opener was on the ‘under’. I felt that 188.5 was too high and I didn’t see either team hitting 100 points in the opening game. But then I thought back on what could be defensive deficiencies for the Spurs and thought about San Antonio’s execution on offense (compared to Indiana, which didn’t have a problem scoring against the Heat even though they can’t shoot) and I am not sure.

Posted at 9:21 am | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 3rd, 2013

NBA Game 7’s Usually End In A Blowout

By Robert Ferringo

Nothing in sports is more intense than a Game 7. The hype, the emotion, the buildup; nothing else quite matches it. One-game scenarios, like a Super Bowl or national championship, have their own level of emotion but are more subjected to the “Any Given Sunday” maxim.

A Game 7, on the other hand, is the crescendo of a six-game buildup. It is the tipping point between an immovable object and an unstoppable force, and the results seem less arbitrary for both parties.

Tonight’s showdown between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat marks the 37th Game 7 in the NBA playoffs since the turn of the century. The Heat are seven-point favorites tonight and the total is set at 181.0.

Interestingly, it was the Heat that lost the first Game 7 of this millennia when they fell 83-82 at home to the Knicks in the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals.

They will try to avoid a similar fate tonight. And I’ve already posited a theory that the Heat will benefit from the same shoddy, slanted officiating in their Conference Finals finale that the Los Angeles Lakers took advantage of back in June of 2000 when they turned a 37-16 free throw advantage into an 89-85 win over Portland.

(I posted in my writeup for tonight’s game that this one could end up being another 2002 Game 6 – Kings-Lakers – where the officiating was so blatantly biased it will forever be one of the most bogus, fraudulent games in NBA history.)

The home team is 26-10 straight up in the last 36 Game 7’s. However, the Chicago Bulls won at Brooklyn in the first round of this postseason to become the most recent road team to win a deciding game. The Clippers also won at Memphis in the first round last year.

While there is always a lot of buildup and a level of dramatic expectation for a Game 7, the majority of recent Game 7’s have been blowouts.

The average margin of victory of the last 36 Game 7’s has been 13.3 points. There have been more Game 7’s decided by 20 more points (six) as there have been four or less (five) and even if you kick out those six laughers the margin of victory in these games is a hefty 10.1 points per game.

Twenty of the 36 Game 7’s played since 2000 have been decided by double-digits.

There were four Game 7’s in last year’s playoffs and nine, 10, 10 and 13 points decided them.

So as much as I think that Indiana can hang with the points tonight – they have clearly been the better team in this series, and if they had played seven games on a neutral court they would’ve won this series long ago – as we get closer to game time I am starting to get the feeling that the Pacers are going to be walking into a 15-point rout.

Posted at 2:34 pm | Permalink | Comments (0)
June 3rd, 2013

Indiana Pacers Prepare For Game 7 Screwjob

By Robert Ferringo

Does anyone think there is a chance in hell that David Stern and the NBA are going to let the Miami Heat lose tonight in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals?

Me neither.

Indiana is lubing up for their date with the Heat tonight. Suffice to say, an Indiana-San Antonio matchup in the NBA Finals would generate about 1/10th of the interest that a Spurs-Heat series will produce. As such, we can expect a good old-fashioned snowjob tonight with the Pacers on the losing end.

The Pacers are thick seven-point underdogs heading into tonight’s decisive game. They are also taking a whopping 61 percent of the action from the public. But perhaps more surprising is the fact that Indiana is catching 46 percent of the moneyline wagers in this game.

There are some clear reasons why someone would throw down on the moneyline for Indiana tonight. They payout is 3-to-1 at the majority of books so there is clearly some value. Also, several bettors may be hedging on futures wagers already placed on the Heat.

But the idea that Indiana is going to get a fair shake in this game is ludicrous. I would put the spread on the free throw disparity with Miami at -16.5 and you can expect at least one of Indiana’s big men to be battling foul trouble all game.

LeBron James will get to do whatever he wants and the calls in tonight’s game will be one-sided. In my opinion it is obvious that Indiana is the better team in this series. Miami has been completely unimpressive throughout the postseason and were it not for a last-second defensive breakdown in Game 1 the Pacers would’ve taken this series 4-2.

But the NBA wants its payday. Professional sports is a whorehouse. And Indiana doesn’t have a prayer of cashing those moneyline tickets tonight.

Posted at 2:04 pm | Permalink | Comments (0)
May 7th, 2013

NBA Draft Early Entries: Players Who Will Cripple Their Teams By Leaving

By Robert Ferringo

The NBA Early Entry Deadline came and went and this year’s crop of HOLYSHITICAN’TBELIEVETHATGUYISGOINGPRO! players are now available for public shaming.

The NBA Draft is one of the biggest crapshoots in sports. Of the 60 players taken in the draft’s two rounds, an average of five of them (over the last 12 years) make at least one All Star Game while only about 15-20 of them actually end up becoming NBA contributors.

So about 60-75 percent of players drafted into the NBA end up washing out swiftly. That’s a pretty harrowing figure. And for every LeBron James there are dozens of Marcus Bankss’, Reece Gaines’s, Kirk Snyder’s, Rafael Araujo’s, and Ike Diogu’s.

However, where the NBA really does its damage is in college basketball. Every year delusional college kids ditch their amateur status for the allure of playing professional basketball. Obviously, it doesn’t work out very well for most of them in the pros. But it works out even worse for the college teams they leave behind.

Granted, I don’t know the personal situations of any of the guys that are leaving school early. And I am sure that plenty of them know they aren’t getting drafted into the NBA. But they are still willing to abandon their college career for the chance to play professionally overseas. (Which, by all accounts, is better in theory than it is in practice.)

But what I do know is that this year’s Early Entry list is chock full of names of players that have no earthly business trying to go pro. And their defection could do significant damage to the earning potential of college teams next year.

There is still hope for some of the players on the Early Entry List. The withdrawal deadline is at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 17 – 10 days before the actual draft. So several of the players that have declared could still return to school, as long as they have not hired an agent.

The best programs in the country, teams like Syracuse and Kentucky, lose stud players Here is a breakdown of the guys that I think will do the most damage to their teams by leaving early next year:

C.J. Aiken (St. Joe’s) – The Hawks have an excellent junior clas that will become seniors next year. Aiken, the team’s fourth-leading scorer and main big man, is among them. He’s not an NBA player. But if he returns he could be a key player on a St. Joe’s team that would be in the top tier of a loaded Atlantic 10. Without him the Hawks will remain good, but not good enough.

Ricardo Ledo (Providence) –
I was way ahead of the game with Providence last year. Once they got healthy this team started to play some good basketball. They are losing stud Vincent Council to graduation. But they could’ve been a serious sleeper heading into next year if ballyhooed guard Ledo would’ve been thrown into the fold.

Tony Mitchell (North Texas) – The Green Machine were a disaster last year and were one of the biggest disappointments in college basketball. Apparently Tony Mitchell (and everyone else on this team) didn’t enjoy going through a coaching change, and Mitchell is out. If he decided to return the Eagles would’ve welcomed back four of their five starters and leading scorers and would’ve had a chance for a redux on the season.

Marshawn Powell and B.J. Young (Arkansas) – I don’t know what the hell these two are doing. Powell still isn’t fully recovered from knee injuries and Young has enough offseason baggage to scare teams away from his already suspect resume.

Andre Roberson (Colorado) – Tad Boyle is doing a great job building up this program and has some real talent coming into the fold over his next two recruiting classes. But with Roberson the Buffs would’ve been a Top 10 team at some point next year. I say “would’ve” because I don’t think there is a chance he comes back to school.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia) – Poor Mark Fox. This guy just can’t catch a break as he tries to put Georgia basketball on the national map. Fox has done an fine job of recruiting and of implementing his system. But guys like Caldwell-Pope keep bailing on him right when the Bulldogs are on the cusp of becoming a player in the SEC.

Posted at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Comments (0)