Wednesday, March 22, 2017

NHL : Flames Look to Continue Dominance in Nashville on Thursday

The Calgary Flames (41-27-4 SU, 39-33 ATS) are roasting opponents. Since starting the first 16 games of the season 5-11, they’ve hit their stride, winning 12 of their last 13 games. They beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 on Sunday, and the Dallas Stars 3-1 on Friday. Goaltender Brian Elliott has been one of the big reasons the Flames have been on a tear. The 2X NHL All-Star has put up an impressive 15-1-1 record since January 26. He was between the pipes on February 21, when the Flames beat the Nashville Predators 6-5 in overtime.

Nashville (36-25-11 SU, 34-38 ATS) has been struggling to find consistency, mostly in net, where Pekka Rinne has been incredible at some points, and struggled at others.

There haven’t been concerns at the other end of the ice. With an average of 2.92 goals a game, Nashville’s offence ranks 10th in the league. Centreman Filip Forsberg has been a big contributor to Nashville’s highly-ranked offence. After starting the season with 13 scoreless games, he’s found the back of the net 29 times. The last time Forsberg faced the Calgary Flames, he got a hat trick.
The two Western Conference foes will meet for the third time this season at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday at 8 PM ET.

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NHL Odds: Offensive Battle Set for Thursday in Nashville

The last time the Nashville Predators played against the Calgary Flames, Calgary had a 4-1 lead five minutes into the second period. Nashville responded with four back-to-back goals, including a hat trick from centreman Filip Forsberg. Both teams went into overtime with five goals, and Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano (12 goals, 22 assists) scored the winning goal.

On Thursday at 8 PM ET, both teams face off again, but this time, the stakes are higher. Just Monday, Calgary was third in the Pacific division, and Nashville was the second wild card contender. They swapped places Tuesday, with Calgary settling for wild card status, and Nashville taking third in the Central Division. Will there be another round of musical chairs on Thursday?

NHL : Bolts-Bruins in Key Atlantic Division Battle

With about 10 games left in the regular season, the Atlantic Division is down to the wire. At least five teams have a decent shot at grabbing one of the three automatic playoff spots – or maybe even a Wild Card – including the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, who meet this Thursday at the Garden. Game time is 7 PM ET on NESN.

The Bruins have vaulted back into third place in the Atlantic since firing head coach Claude Julien on February 7 and replacing him on an interim basis with Bruce Cassidy. But the Lightning have also played well during that span, much of that after trading No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop (.911 save percentage) to the Los Angeles Kings and handing the reins to Andrei Vasilevskiy (.916 SV%).

Unfortunately for the Bolts, injuries could prevent them from climbing out of fifth place in the Atlantic. Four of their top centers are on the shelf at press time. Tyler Johnson (19 goals), Vladislav Namestnikov (nine goals) and Cedric Paquette (four goals) are all day-to-day with lower-body injuries, while Steven Stamkos (nine goals in 17 games) might not return from his torn meniscus before the playoffs.

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NHL Odds: Playoff Ramifications for Bolts, Bruins

Thursday night’s matchup (7 PM ET, NESN) between the Boston Bruins and the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning could wind up deciding if either team makes the playoffs. Boston is third in the Atlantic Division; Tampa Bay is fifth with about 10 games remaining in the regular season.

Both teams have played well over the past month or so, but the Bolts find themselves in a pickle with four centers on the injured list. Steven Stamkos (knee) is still unlikely to return before the playoffs, while Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette are all day-to-day with lower-body injuries.

NBA : Hawks Visit Wizards in Meeting of Eastern Playoff Contenders

The Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks both seem to have a grip on a playoff spot. The two will meet on Wednesday at 8PM ET in the nation’s capital.

The Hawks aren’t a flashy team by any means, but they’re balanced offensively. They have six players, including Paul Millsap, averaging double digits for points. Unfortunately for them, their All-Star is expected to miss Wednesday’s contest because of tightness in his knee. The Hawks may have to rely a little more on their tough defense, which is sixth in opponent field goal percentage.

They’ll have their hands full with the Wizards, who are fifth in points scored. John Wall (23 points, almost 11 assists per game) and Bradley Beal (23 points) are finally fulfilling their promise in the backcourt, but the Wizards’ defense still has some work to do; they’re 22nd in points allowed.
Atlanta is 6-4 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Wizards, who’ve won two of three games against the Hawks this season. Atlanta won the first meeting 114-99 at home in October, then the Wizards won 95-92 in Washington in November and then 112-86 in Atlanta in January.

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NBA Odds: Wizards Host Hawks on Wednesday

The Washington Wizards have played well at the Verizon Center this season. Their 27 home wins are the third-most in the NBA. But lately, they’ve been slumping at home, going just 3-3 over their last six home games.

The Wizards will host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, but to get the win, they’ll have to improve their defense. They gave up an average of 112 points per game in their last five games. Fortunately for the Wizards, the Hawks are one of the lowest-scoring away teams, averaging just 101.3 points per game on the road (23rd in NBA).
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NBA Odds: Anything Can Happen With Hawks-Wizards

Who will challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference playoffs? It could be either participant in Wednesday’s matchup (8 PM ET, ESPN) between the Washington Wizards and the visiting Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards lead the Southeast Division at 42-27 SU and 36-32-1 ATS; the Hawks are five games back at 37-32 SU and 31-38 ATS.

This will be the fourth time the Hawks and Wiz have done battle this season. Washington is ahead 2-1 SU and ATS, winning their last two meetings after dropping the season-opener in Atlanta. That loss was before the Hawks sent Kyle Korver (40.9% from long range) to the Cavaliers in early January. However, Atlanta added some talent at the trade deadline, picking up two-way power forward Ersan Ilyasova from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Washington also has some reinforcements for Wednesday’s contest. The Wiz acquired Bogan Bogdanovich (45.8% from downtown) from the Brooklyn Nets at the deadline, and they firmed up their bench by signing point guard Brandon Jennings when the New York Knicks cut him loose on March 1. But Washington’s biggest addition was the return of Ian Mahinmi from the injured list on February 8; they’re 12-6 SU and 6-11-1 ATS since.

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NBA Odds: Hawks, Wiz in Southeast Showdown

The Washington Wizards (42-27 SU, 36-32-1 ATS) can pretty much secure the Southeast Division title with a win Wednesday night over the Atlanta Hawks (37-32 SU, 31-38 ATS). Tip-off is at 8 PM ET on ESPN; the Wizards lead Atlanta by five games with less than a month remaining before the playoffs.

Washington is 2-1 SU and ATS against the Hawks this year, but both teams have made moves since the last time they met. The Wizards now have Bogan Bogdanovich and Brandon Jennings, while Atlanta added Ersan Ilyasova at the trade deadline.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Entertainment : Simone Biles and Everyone Else at DWTS 24

Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars premieres this Monday night (8 PM ET, ABC), and to almost no one’s surprise, US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is the favorite at +150. But she’ll have some professional competition in the form of Heather Morris (+500), a triple-threat entertainer who was in the cast of Glee.

Biles is the next in a long line of athletes who have performed on DWTS, and while athletes aren’t winning the competition as often as they used to, the Season 23 champion was also a gold-winning US gymnast: Laurie Hernandez, who opened as the +250 favorite last September. Biles won four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, and carried the flag for Team USA during the closing ceremonies.

Morris may not be quite as famous as Biles, but she’s got the chops, and the people that know her fit right into the DWTS core demographic. The 30-year-old Californian has been dancing since she was nine, and spent time as a back-up dancer for Beyoncé before appearing on Glee. Former US figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (+1000) will also bring some dancing skills to the table for Season 24.

simone biles dancing with the stars

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Entertainment Odds: Biles vs. Morris at DWTS 24

Gold-winning US gymnast Simone Biles is the +150 favorite to win Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars, beginning this Monday at 8 PM ET on ABC. But waiting in the wings is Heather Morris (+500), a former professional dancer who appeared in the cast of Glee.

Biles and Morris could get a run for their money from Nancy Kerrigan (+1000), the former US figure skater who also appeared on the 2006 reality show Skating with Celebrities. Other top contenders include veteran entertainer Charo and model/bull rider Bonner Bolton, both at +900.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NHL : Blackhawks Visit Ottawa on Thursday

The Chicago Blackhawks fly into the nation’s capital to take on the red-hot Ottawa Senators (39-22-6 SU, 37-30 ATS) on Thursday (7:30 PM ET on TSN5). The Sens are playing their best hockey of the season: they’re unbeaten in March, and have a 12-4 record over their past 16 games. That strong play has gotten them to within two points of first place in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand over the Montreal Canadiens. After being named the third star of the week in the NHL, captain Erik Karlsson (13 goals, 49 assists) has produced yet another tremendous offensive season for Ottawa; he has six points (2 goals, 4 assists) over his past four games and leads all NHL defenseman in assists.

The Chicago Blackhawks (43-20-5 SU, 32-36 ATS) are securely in second place in the Western Conference’s Central Division. They’re 8-2-0 over their last 10 games, and are positioning themselves for yet another playoff run this spring. Reigning NHL MVP, Patrick Kane (30 goals, 43 assists), has continued his scoring ways in 2016-17; he currently sits second in league scoring with 73 points – only two behind league-leading Connor McDavid. Both teams will be looking to finetune for the playoffs.

NHL : Blackhawks Senators

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NHL Odds: Battle of Surging Teams Face Off in Ottawa

The Ottawa Senators (39-22-6) are sitting pretty with 15 games left to play in their season. They’re playing their best hockey of the season and will look to keep it up against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (7:30 PM ET on TSN5). The Sens have gotten within two points of first place in the Atlantic Division, with two games in hand over the Montreal Canadiens.

The Chicago Blackhawks (43-20-5) have also been racking up the wins of late, going 8-2 over their past 10 games. Goaltender Corey Crawford (2.54 goals against average, .919 save percentage) has proven to be a reliable backstop for a Blackhawks team that scores an average of 2.96 goals per game.

NHL : Predators Clinging to Playoff Life Versus Capitals

Teams are rounding the turn in the NHL regular season, and the Nashville Predators are scrambling for playoff position after losing their first four games in March. They’ll need an inspired performance this Thursday night (7 PM ET) when they visit the best team in the league, the Washington Capitals.

The Predators have taken a step back in their third season under head coach Peter Laviolette. Their puck possession stats are decent, but Pekka Rinne (.915 save percentage) has been fair-to-middling between the pipes, making the OVER a solid pick in the Music City this year. Nashville did make a nice move at the trade deadline by acquiring winger PA Parenteau (13 goals, 14 assists) from the New Jersey Devils, sending back a sixth-round draft pick in return.

That’s a drop in the bucket compared to Washington’s mega-deal for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (11 goals, 35 assists). But Shattenkirk earned a two-game suspension over the weekend for a charging penalty; Thursday should be his first game back. Winger Andre Burakovsky (11 goals, 18 assists) remains out while he recovers from a hand injury. He isn’t due to return until late March.

NHL : Predators Clinging to Playoff Life Versus Capitals

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NHL Odds: Cup-Favored Caps Host Predators

The Washington Capitals are still the +475 favorites to win the Stanley Cup, but after losing four straight games, they could use a shot in the arm this Thursday (7 PM ET) when they host the Nashville Predators.

Kevin Shattenkirk (11 goals, 35 assists) fits the bill. The former All-Star defenseman arrived in Washington at the trade deadline, but Shattenkirk was suspended for two games after picking up a charging penalty. Thursday will be his first day of eligibility. In his six games with the Caps, Shattenkirk has four assists and four blocked shots.

NCAAB : Providence-USC in First Four

Wednesday’s First Four matchup in Dayton between the Providence Friars and the USC Trojans might be one of the most competitive games in the entire NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The winner will advance as the No. 11 seed in the East Region. Tip-off is at 9:10 ET on truTV.

The Friars (20-12 SU and ATS) come out of the Big East as one of the most profitable teams in college basketball. They’re stout on defense and deliberate on offense, which masks some of their problems getting the ball in the hoop. Providence ranks No. 285 out of the 351 Division I teams in field-goal attempts and No. 248 in scoring at 70.3 points per game.

USC (24-9 SU, 16-16 ATS) was in the AP rankings over the holidays, but barely squeaked into March Madness after a late-season surge. The Trojans are more proficient on offense than Providence, ranking No. 56 overall at 78.7 points per game; however, USC also played a softer schedule in the Pac-12, and their perimeter defense is in question. The top player on the Friars, junior guard Jalen Linsdey, is 46.1% from downtown this year on 6.2 attempts per 40 minutes.

Providence Friars and the USC Trojans

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NCAAB Odds: Providence, USC Meet in Dayton

The Providence Friars (20-12 SU and ATS) and the USC Trojans (24-9 SU, 16-16 ATS) will meet Wednesday in the First Four round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The winner plugs into the No. 11 seed in the East Region on your March Madness bracket. Tip-off from Dayton is 9:10 ET on truTV.

Providence might have the matchup edge with their 3-point shooting, easily the best feature of an otherwise anemic offense. The Trojans are weak defending the perimeter; opponents have hit 36.5% from long range, leaving USC ranked No. 273 of the 351 Division I teams.

NBA : Clippers Try to Slow Down Bucks in LA

The Milwaukee Bucks have been playing very well. They’re trying to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have won their last six games in the process. On Wednesday, they’ll take on the Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Tip-off is at 10:30 PM ET.

Everyone thought the Bucks were in trouble when power forward Jabari Parker went down with a knee injury. But guard Khris Middleton has been picking up some slack, improving since returning from a lingering hamstring problem. Middleton is putting up over 14 points a game with about four rebounds and four assists, giving the Bucks another option outside of star small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Clippers are aiming for home-court advantage in the playoffs, as they jockey for position with Utah for the fourth spot. Guard Chris Paul is starting to round into form after returning from a thumb injury, and power forward Blake Griffin continues to be an all-round force for the Clippers.
Los Angeles is 8-2 SU and 5-5 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Bucks. But the Bucks managed to beat the Clippers 112-101 at home on March 3. Antetokounmpo put up 24 points and eight assists, while Greg Monroe added 14 off the bench. The Clippers’ top contributors were Paul and Griffin, who put up 21 points each. Griffin also had nine boards and eight assists.

NBA : Clippers Try to Slow Down Bucks in LA

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NBA Odds: Antetokounmpo, Griffin Meet in Los Angeles on Wednesday

Milwaukee Bucks small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin are two of the most talented and versatile forwards in the NBA. The two lead their teams into battle on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Antetokounmpo is having a phenomenal season, averaging over 23 points a game, over five assists and almost nine boards a night. Griffin is putting up almost 22 points with over eight boards and five assists. The two played well when the Bucks beat the Clippers in Milwaukee in March, so it’ll be fun to watch them go at it once again on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Golf : Stenson, Thomas Co-Faves at Valspar Championship

The PGA Tour is back in Florida this week for the 2017 Valspar Championship, and there are two golfers standing head-and-shoulders above the pack. Henrik Stenson and Justin Thomas are +1000 co-favorites at press time, well ahead of Ryan Moore at +2200. Action begins Thursday at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor. Golf Channel and NBC will share the coverage.

Stenson is the biggest name in this field; he’s the 2016 British Open winner and reigning Race to Dubai champion. However, Stenson was forced to withdraw from last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship with a stomach virus, so his health is in question. The veteran Swede tees off Thursday at 7:56 PM ET alongside reigning Valspar champ Charl Schwartzel and big-hitting Bubba Watson, each priced at +4000.

Thomas is a relatively new name on the Tour, having turned pro in 2013, but he already has four PGA titles to his credit, including back-to-back wins in Hawaii to start the 2017 campaign. That’s enough to put Thomas at No. 7 on the Official World Golf Ranking, one spot behind Stenson. He’ll be teeing off at 12:35 PM ET with Daniel Berger (+2500) and Steve Stricker (+7500).

2017 Valspar Championship

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Golf Odds: Is Henrik Stenson Healthy for Valspar?

Henrik Stenson is the top golfer in this week’s field for the 2017 Valspar Championship in Florida, but after pulling out of last week’s event in Mexico with a stomach virus, Stenson has to settle for co-favorite status with Justin Thomas at +1000.

It’s a long drive from the favorites to the rest of the pack. Ryan Moore is third on the odds list at +2200; he finished third at the Valspar last year and fifth in 2015, but Moore currently sits at No. 37 on the Official World Golf Ranking, well behind Stenson (No. 6) and Thomas (No. 7).

NHL : Will Gibson Join Ducks in Chicago?

The Anaheim Ducks are still in playoff position in the Western Conference, but they’re vulnerable heading into Thursday’s road game (8:30 PM ET, CSNC) against the soaring Chicago Blackhawks. Starting goaltender Josh Gibson is day-to-day with an undisclosed lower-body injury. The Ducks went 2-3 in their first five games with Jonathan Bernier taking over the No. 1 role.

Gibson (.922 save percentage) has been leaned on heavily this year since the departure of Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But while Andersen (.916 SV%) has been integral to Toronto’s rebirth, Bernier (.905 SV%) has struggled to pick up the slack in Anaheim. The Ducks haven’t made much use of Jhonas Enroth, who’s available for duty after he was acquired from the Maple Leafs in January for a seventh-round pick in 2018.

The Blackhawks have some goaltender issues of their own. Scott Darling (.931 SV%) suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury last week and isn’t expected back until the end of March. However, No. 1 netminder Corey Crawford (.918 SV%) has played reasonably well this year, winning eight of his last nine starts to move Chicago within a point of the Nashville Predators for first in the West.

NHL - Blackhawks vs Ducks

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NHL Odds: Goalie Injuries Highlight Ducks-Hawks Matchup

The best goaltenders from both teams could be out of action this Thursday (8:30 PM ET, CSNC) when the Anaheim Ducks visit the Chicago Blackhawks. But Chicago is in a much better position to weather the storm.

Josh Gibson (.922 save percentage) is listed as day-to-day for Anaheim with a lower-body injury; the Ducks went 2-3 in their first five games with Jonathan Bernier (.905 SV%) in relief. The Hawks are definitely without Scott Darling (.931 SV%, upper-body injury) until the end of March; however, he’s the back-up to Corey Crawford (.918 SV%), who’s won eight of his last nine games.

NHL : Divisional Leaders Face Off in California

The NHL-leading Washington Capitals (44-14-7) head to California to play the first of three games on the West Coast against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday (10:30 PM ET on CSN). Ranking first overall in team defense (2.03 goals allowed per game) and third in team offense (3.27 goals scored per game), the Caps have been a picture of consistency through the first 65 games of 2016-17. Led by centre Nicklas Backstrom (21 goals, 46 assists) and right winger Alex Ovechkin (27 goals, 28 assists), the Capitals will look to continue their offensive dominance and capture two points against the Sharks on the road.

The San Jose Sharks (39-19-7) will play in the third of an eight-game home stand on Thursday. Coming off of a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, the Sharks will be in tough against the Stanley Cup favourites. The NHL’s top offensive defenseman, Brent Burns (27 goals, 40 assists), will be relied upon to pace the Sharks’ offense in what will surely be a high-scoring affair. Goaltender Martin Jones (2.28 goals against, .915 save percentage) will be back in net after getting the night off on Tuesday and will face a hungry Capitals team looking to fortify their spot atop the league.

NHL Sharks vs Capitals

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NHL : A Potential Stanley Cup Preview

The first-place Washington Capitals (44-14-7) hit the road to take on the San Jose Sharks (39-19-7) in what could be a Stanley Cup Finals preview. With a record of 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, the Sharks will look to continue their strong play on Thursday. Brent Burns (27 goals, 40 assists), the heartbeat of the Sharks team, is in the midst of a Norris-caliber season.

The Caps have basically secured the Eastern Conference title. With a balanced offensive attack and a bullet-proof defense, Washington seems poised to make a long run this post-season.

Monday, March 6, 2017

NBA : Warriors Welcome Celtics to Oakland on Wednesday

The Golden State Warriors are the first 50-win team in the NBA and are still the –130 favorites to win the title, but they suffered a blow when superstar Kevin Durant sprained his MCL on February 28. The Warriors will host the Boston Celtics without Durant on Wednesday at 10:30 PM ET.

The Celtics, who are second in the Eastern Conference, have had their hands full trying to stay ahead of Washington, Toronto and Atlanta, and are also trying to catch Cleveland for the top spot. Boston has feasted on losing teams this year, going 27-6 against teams under .500. When it comes to teams with a winning record, they’ve gone 13-16 SU.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have already clinched a playoff spot. However, Durant’s knee injury has undoubtedly put a damper on the team’s chances to win the Championship. The team is cautiously optimistic that he’ll be back in four to six weeks.

Golden State is 7-3 SU and 4-5-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Celtics, who fell 104-88 to the Warriors at home on November 18. Klay Thompson led the way that night with 28 points for Golden State, while Isaiah Thomas put up 18 for the Celtics.

NBA : Warriors Welcome Celtics to Oakland on Wednesday

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NBA Odds: Durant-Less Warriors March on Against Celtics

The Golden State Warriors have already clinched a playoff spot, but they lost star Kevin Durant in the process. They’ve been struggling without him, losing two in a row before beating the New York Knicks 112-105 on Sunday.

Durant should be back in four to six weeks, but in the meantime, the Warriors will have to hold down the court without him. On Wednesday, they face the Boston Celtics, who they already beat 104-88 back in November.
Golden State’s dominance over the Celtics goes further back than that. The Warriors have had the upper hand in their last 10 meetings with the Celtics, winning seven of those games outright and going 4-5-1 ATS.

NCAAB : Hurricanes-Orange in ACC Tourney

The Syracuse Orange and the No. 25 Miami Hurricanes have already made it to the second round of the ACC Tournament. They earned a direct bye into Wednesday’s game (noon ET, ESPN), with Syracuse as the No. 8 seed and Miami at No. 9 on the ACC bracket; the winner will go on to face the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels on Thursday.

Syracuse (18-13 SU, 13-13 ATS) may have the better seed and de facto home-court advantage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but the Hurricanes (20-10 SU, 10-18 ATS) were the superior team during the regular season. However, in their lone meeting back in January, it was the Orange prevailing 70-55 as 3-point home dogs, up from +1 at the open. Miami had difficulty dealing with Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense, shooting just 39% on the day.

Wednesday’s game is doubly important for the Orange – they could fall off the March Madness bubble with a loss to Miami, while the Hurricanes are expected to receive a Tournament invite no matter what happens. Both teams improved their positions last month with upset wins over the Duke Blue Devils and Virginia Cavaliers.

NCAA Basketball : Hurricanes-Orange in ACC Tourney

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NCAAB Odds: ‘Canes Seek Revenge on ‘Cuse

The No. 25 Miami Hurricanes will get at least one more shot at the Syracuse Orange. They’ll meet at Barclays Center in Brooklyn this Wednesday in the second round of the ACC Tournament, tipping off at noon Eastern on ESPN.

When these two teams met at the Carrier Dome in January, it was the Orange winning 70-55 as 3-point home dogs. If the Hurricanes take the rematch, they might knock Syracuse off the March Madness tournament bubble; at press time, the Orange are the last of 10 ACC teams (including Miami) expected to receive invitations to the Big Dance.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

UFC : Wonderboy Favored Over Woodley at UFC 209

Has a UFC champion ever been kicked to the curb like this? Tyron Woodley will defend his Welterweight title this Saturday at UFC 209, live on pay-per-view from the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip. At press time, Woodley (16-3-1 lifetime, 6-2-1 UFC) is a +135 underdog to the challenger, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (13-1-1 lifetime, 8-1-1 UFC).

This will be the second time these two gentlemen have stepped into the Octagon. Their first fight at UFC 205 in November ended in a majority draw, with one judge giving it to Woodley (+140) and the others calling it a saw-off. Woodley had the better performance for the most part, but the popular Thompson made a late charge and nearly won the title.

Just like they did in November, the odds are moving toward Thompson as the fight approaches. This was a virtual pick ‘em until recently, but the challenger hasn’t lost in the Octagon since 2012, using his 5th-degree black belt karate skills to upset Johny Hendricks (–330) and Rory Macdonald (–135) before securing the draw against Woodley. Thompson is also three inches taller at 6-feet with a slight reach advantage.

Wonderboy Favored Over Woodley at UFC 209
UFC : Wonderboy Favored Over Woodley at UFC 209

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UFC Odds: Will “Wonderboy” Prevail at UFC 209?

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson challenges Tyron Woodley for the Welterweight title this Saturday at UFC 209 in Las Vegas. This matchup was a virtual pick ‘em until Thompson started picking up steam, leaving Woodley as the +135 underdog at press time.

Woodley (16-3-1 lifetime, 6-2-1 UFC) was a +140 underdog when he defended his belt last November against Thompson (13-1-1 lifetime, 8-1-1 UFC) at UFC 205, a fight that ended in a majority draw. Fans have taken a shine to “Wonderboy” and his eight-fight undefeated streak, which includes big wins over Johny Hendricks (–330) and Rory Macdonald (–135).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

NHL : Rangers Visit Recharged Bruins

The Boston Bruins have clawed their way back into playoff position in the Eastern Conference. But they face a roadblock this Thursday night when they host the New York Rangers, one of four very strong teams in the Metropolitan Division. NBCSN has the coverage starting at 7 PM ET.

Boston’s fortunes have improved since they fired head coach Claude Julien three weeks ago. The Bruins won six of their first seven games with Bruce Cassidy taking over on an interim basis, putting them in third place in the Atlantic Division following Monday’s action. However, the Rangers are also on a hot streak, and they’d be in first place if they were in the Atlantic.

The NHL’s trade deadline is Wednesday at 3 PM ET, so there could be some major personnel changes on both sides of this matchup. Meanwhile, reports at press time say the Rangers have traded two draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings for defenseman Brendan Smith, a solid role player who blocks shots and handles the puck well. The projected starters for Thursday are the usual No. 1 netminders: Tuukka Rask (.912 save percentage) for Boston, and Henrik Lundqvist (.912 SV%) for New York.

NHL : Rangers Visit Recharged Bruins

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NHL Odds: Rangers Add to Blueline Before Bruins Matchup

The New York Rangers will have at least one new player in uniform for Thursday’s game (7 PM ET, NBCSN) against the visiting Boston Bruins. The Rangers have reportedly sent two draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings for defenseman Brendan Smith.

There could be more moves on both sides in advance of Wednesday’s 3 PM ET trade deadline. But the Bruins have already made their most dramatic change, firing head coach Claude Julien three weeks ago and replacing him on an interim basis with Bruce Cassidy. Boston won six of their first seven games after making the switch.

NHL : Original Six Showdown in New York

The Boston Bruins (33-24-6 SU, 31-32 ATS) march into Madison Square Garden as one of the hottest teams in the NHL; they’ve won 10 of their last 13 games, and have pulled into third place in the Atlantic Division. After starting the season barely above .500, the Bruins have come alive. They fired head coach Claude Julien and are now under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Since the change, there have been major improvements on offense; they’ve scored 4.07 goals per game and have a record of 7-1-0 to show for it. Brad Marchand (28 goals, 38 assists) has led the way in 2016-17, notching three goals and four assists over his last three games.

The New York Rangers (40-21-2 SU, 30-33 ATS) return home after losing road games in Columbus and Washington. Despite that, they sit in the first wildcard position in the Eastern Conference and seem poised to make the playoffs for a seventh straight season. Over the course of the season, the Rangers have been top offensive performers, owning the 4th best team offense with 3.24 goals scored per game. Look for a high-scoring affair on Thursday (7 PM ET on NBCSN).

NHL : Original Six Showdown in New York

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NHL Odds: Battle of Eastern Conference Foes at MSG

Patrice Bergeron of the New York Rangers (40-21-2) will welcome the Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins (33-24-6) on Thursday (7 PM ET on NBCSN). Marchand (28 goals, 38 assists) has registered seven points in his last three games, while Bergeron has registered two goals and four assists in his last three.

The Rangers are coming off of a two-game skid on the road, but will look to regain form at home, where they have a record of 19-12-2. New York has arguably the most balanced offence in the league, with eight players having 30 or more points this season. We’ll see how many score in what should be an exciting offensive display on Thursday.