This Week in Sports Betting: Here Comes the Madness

We’re almost there, folks. March has arrived, which means March Madness is just around the corner; alas, it’ll be another couple of weeks before we get to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball Tournament. There’s one regular-season game left for many teams, then it’s Champ Week, then the Big Dance – the biggest event on the sports betting calendar. And it’s going to be especially interesting this year after last Friday’s reports on the FBI investigation into star players getting paid under the table.

If you’re looking for a hot pick on this week’s NCAAB odds board, consider fading some of those 20-plus teams who were listed in the report. The Xavier Musketeers (26-4 SU, 20-10 ATS) could be a “sell-high” commodity heading into their last regular-season game, on the road this Saturday against the DePaul Blue Demons (11-18 SU, 14-14-1 ATS). The Musketeers are No. 3 in the polls, but only No. 14 on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency charts and the growing off-court scandal won’t help them focus against DePaul on Senior Day. Tip-off is at noon Eastern.

Tanking for Dollars

The biggest scandal in the NBA right now is with the Dallas Mavericks, but we might not be able to take advantage this time. Already dealing with #MeToo issues behind the scenes, the Mavericks got what-for from commissioner Adam Silver last week, after owner Mark Cuban admitted telling his players that tanking would be a good thing for the franchise. The Mavs are 3-0 ATS since Silver fined Cuban $600,000 for speaking the truth.

This year’s race to the bottom of the NBA standings is very crowded indeed. If Dallas has indeed pulled out of the tank parade (unlikely), there are seven other teams at press time with 18-20 wins, and most of those teams own their own first-round draft pick in 2018. However, if you’d rather put a winning team in your NBA picks instead of fading the tankers, there’s always the Toronto Raptors (43-17 SU, 34-26 ATS). Unless you’re Canadian, or you don’t like money, you probably don’t care about the Raptors, but they’re 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS in their past 10 games. Get on board while you still can; the Raps visit the Washington Wizards on Friday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) before hosting the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET).

The Lights Go Out on Broadway

Speaking of Canadians, the NHL just had their trade deadline, which means we’ve got another opportunity to take advantage of a marketplace in flux. Teams who get rid of players at the deadline can be strong “buy low” picks, and the New York Rangers dumped more ballast than anyone else, shipping out LW Rick Nash, defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and center J.T. Miller; they also unloaded RW Michael Grabner last week.

Those are some quality performers right there. But the Rangers also got back LW Vladislav Namestnikov and center Ryan Spooner alongside all those draft picks and prospects. They’re probably not going to play that much worse after all this – New York (27-30-6) is already last in the Metropolitan Division. Then again, maybe they’ll go in the tank, too. Keep a very close eye on Friday’s road game (9:00 p.m. ET) against the Calgary Flames to see what they’re up to before you hit the NHL odds board.

Ovarialogical Fortitude

Speaking of getting punched in the face, it’s UFC 222 this Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas – okay, technically it’s in Paradise, but whatevs. Cris Cyborg defends her Women’s Featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya, and it won’t be pretty: Cyborg has moved from –1300 at the open to as high as –2300 at press time. She could probably win a gauntlet match against Kunitskaya and everyone else in the division.

There’s one other giant betting attraction this Sunday (8:00 p.m. ET, ABC): the 90th Academy Awards. Most of the top Oscars are all sewn up, but watch out for the Best Picture battle. This has been a difficult category to pin down, so there might be some value in third-tier contender Lady Bird (+1400 at Bovada) beating out Three Billboards (–115) and The Shape of Water (+140). Or maybe they’ll just stop pretending already and give it to The Emoji Movie. You do you, Hollywood.

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