People, rejoice! It's Friday and we are on the cusp of one of the most underrated sports weekends of the calendar year — the NCAA Final Four, Wrestlemania, MLB opening weekend, the NBA regular season winding down and even locally we have the Shell Houston Open.
You know what lots of sporting events means...lots of sporting events on which to GAMBLE! So in honor of the NFL moving a team to Las Vegas, we close the week with a slew of wagering recommendations, some short-term (game bets on Saturday, match bets on Sunday) and others that will serve as long-term investments (MLB season win totals).
As an homage to the Final Four, the number four will be our theme, with four bets apiece on the men's national hoops semifinals, Wrestlemania 33 and baseball season wins. So let's rapid-fire these...
FINAL FOUR - Phoenix, AZ
South Carolina +6.5 over Gonzaga, UNDER 138
Gonzaga and head coach Mark Few finally got the monkey off of their back; after years of destroying brackets everywhere as a "dark horse" darling, they finally broke through as the No. 1 seed in the west. Things have broken perfectly for the Zags, as they caught a No. 11 seed in the regional final, and now get a No. 7 seed in the Final Four, albeit one that is obviously playing very well. Statistically, these are the two best defensive teams in the country, hence the play on the UNDER, and Frank Martin might be the coolest head coach in the nation...
...hence, the play on the Gamecocks. This should be a fun little street fight.
Prediction: South Carolina 65, Gonzaga 63
North Carolina -5 over Oregon, OVER 152
After losing last season's championship game in excruciating fashion, the Tar Heels are right back at the Final Four, and are the only real "blue blood" (no pun intended) of the four teams. This is actually a pretty intriguing matchup in terms of pace, as Carolina loves to push the ball, and the Ducks have one of the more athletic teams and better transition defenses in the nation. The difference here will be in Carolina's size and its ability to get after it on the glass. This will be a game where Oregon feels the absence of forward Chris Boucher.
Prediction: North Carolina 86, Oregon 74
WRESTLEMANIA 33 - Orlando, FL
Admittedly, odds on WWE cards (a scripted event) are not the easiest thing to find. These odds were posted on sportsexpertsbetting.com, and you should be forewarned — SPOILER ALERT!! — that the odds below are largely such heavy favorites, based on inside information and leaks in the creative side of WWE, that they essentially give away the finishes of all the matches.
Here are the odds on the ten most prominent matches featured on the McMahon family's "showcase of the immortals":
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP: Bray Wyatt: +450, Randy Orton: -600
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Goldberg: +950, Brock Lesnar: -1400
SINGLES MATCH: The Undertaker: +300, Roman Reigns: -450
MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH: John Cena/Nikki Bella: -650, The Miz/Maryse: +500
SINGLES MATCH: Shane McMahon: +900, A.J. Styles: -1250
WWE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: Bayley: -350, Charlotte Flair: +350, Sasha Banks: +450, Nia Jax: +1250
WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP: Chris Jericho: +500, Kevin Owens: -650
SINGLES MATCH: Seth Rollins: -450, Triple H: +300
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Dean Ambrose: +500, Baron Corbin: -650
WWE RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson: +140, Enzo Amore/Big Cass: +100, Cesaro/Sheamus: +275
Now, the "spoiler alert" above comes with the caveat that just three years ago, the biggest favorite on the card at Wrestlemania 30, the Undertaker, was pinned by Brock Lesnar, snapping the "Dead Man's" 21-match undefeated streak at wrestling's biggest annual event. Lest we forget...
Four matches most likely to have a big upset (acknowledging full well that none of them probably will):
Bray Wyatt +450 over Randy Orton
An Orton win probably jump-starts Wyatt's babyface run hardcore, and I'm guessing they didn't have Orton win the Royal Rumble just to get pinned at Mania, but Orton just isn't an upper-, upper-tier star to the point where I would lock him in for a win here at -600.
Charlotte Flair +350 to win the RAW Women's Championship
Having the biggest star in the women's division walk out of Wrestlemania with a title win wouldn't be the craziest thing in the world.
Chris Jericho +500 over Kevin Owens
To many of the hardcore fans, this is the most highly anticipated bout on the card, so I could absolutely see Jericho getting the win here, and then having Owens destroy him on RAW the next night to send him off television
so he can tour with his band Fozzy with an extended injury.
Triple H +300 over Seth Rollins
It's Triple H, who loves him some Triple H. Would this be the most shocking thing in the world, to see him win at Wrestlemania?
MLB SEASON WIN TOTALS
Full disclosure — I like betting UNDERS far more than OVERS on season win totals, because then there is no need to worry about injuries. Injuries actually HELP the cause for hitting on an UNDER. Here are the four I would go UNDER on...
Houston Astros UNDER 91.5 (-130)
I probably won't bet this one, because an entire summer of rooting against my hometown team would blow, but this number feels awfully high for a team whose top two pitchers dealt with major injuries last season, and which hasn't cracked 90 wins since 2004. The lineup will score like crazy, but Charlie Morton as the No. 3 starter shows just how precarious the starting pitching situation may be.
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Kansas City Royals UNDER 75.5 (+100)
After back-to-back American League pennants, the Royals dipped to 81 wins last season, and now in 2017, with several of their top players in contract years, we could see a fire sale at the trade deadline if they aren't in contention.
San Diego Padres UNDER 66.5 (-150)
This will be the worst team in baseball, a virtual lock for 100 losses...and last I checked, 162 minus 100 is less than 66.5.
Toronto Blue Jays UNDER 85.5 (-115)
Even though they made the postseason again, there was some major regression offensively for the Blue Jays from 2015 to 2016, as they scored 132 fewer runs. Now they enter 2017 with no Edwin Encarnacion, and with Jose Bautista a year older. They have some older pitchers who are major candidates for a fall-off in 2017, including 2016 20-game winner J.A. Happ. The American League East is a tough division, too.
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