Saturday, June 18, 2022 | 2 a.m.
Vacation traditionally commences in the sports betting industry, or so the cliché goes, when the NBA Finals wrap up.
No bookmakers or bettors should have bolted town this year after the Golden State Warriors’ title-clinching victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night though. There’s still a lot going on, at least for a few more days.
Not only has the Stanley Cup Final, which continues with Game 2 at 5 p.m. tonight, steadily increased in betting popularity but so has the College World Series. The eight-team, double-elimination tournament at Charles Schwab Field on Omaha, Neb., started Friday and runs through next weekend.
Not to mention golf’s third major, and arguably second-most prestigious, in the U.S. Open heading into the weekend rounds.
Weekend Wagers lost a bet on the Celtics to win the NBA Finals, but is going to fire on everything else going on in attempting to bounce back after a two-week hiatus. That loss contributed to the record in the last column winding up 1-4-1 — with two future wagers still pending — but Denny Hamlin’s victory in the Coca-Cola 600 made it a profitable outing nonetheless.
Read on for this weekend’s plays. Records are attached for each individual sport since the column restarted for 2022 post-football season with a cumulative tally at the bottom of the page. Lines are the best available in Las Vegas at publication time.
Golf (2-2-2, $2,092.50): Patrick Reed +105 head-to-head vs. Justin Rose in third round of U.S. Open (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
$200 to win $210
The golf world loves to hate Reed, and it’s been rewarded over the last several months with the 2018 Masters champion going through one of the worst stretches of his career. Reed is busting out of it, though, right as he jumps ship from the PGA Tour to LIV Tour, and the betting market hasn’t quite caught up yet. He still has a championship background and his decline had more to do with health issues than anything else. Now healthy, he deserves to be priced among the mid-tier of golfers. He’s more dependable than Rose, who had back-to-back incredible rounds in Sunday’s RBC Canadian open into Thursday’s U.S. Open start but then settled back to 3-over par on Friday. It’s hard to ever know for sure what you’re getting out of Rose while Reed, at his best, is steadier. Reed is getting closer to showing his best again.
College Baseball (0-0, $0): Arkansas +105 vs. Stanford (Circa Sports)
$150 to win $157.50
It’s a shame the Razorbacks and Cardinal have to play in the first round of the College World Series because they just might be the two best teams to reach the final eight in Omaha. Texas also belongs in the conversation, but it would be no surprise if any of those three ended up winning the title. Caesars/William Hill had a rogue 9-to-1 price on Arkansas to win the College World Series all week, but it corrected before publication time so I’m taking the next best thing. I’ll side with Arkansas’ pitching and fielding over Stanford’s offense. The 95-degree weather with high humidity should also benefit the Razorbacks, making this look like a pick’em at worst. It’s no five-star bet, but the College World Series is gaining in popularity in sports books so it deserved to be cover here. Woo Pig Sooie.
MLB (6-2, $672): Toronto Blue Jays -126 vs. New York Yankees (Wynn)
$189 to win $150
Yes, the Yankees are lapping all competition in the American League East including the Blue Jays, which were expected to be their biggest challenge. But that isn’t going to last forever. New York should still clearly win the division, but their 121-win pace is unsustainable. Toronto is going to narrow the gap, and this weekend’s series looks like a place where it can start. Today’s starters, Toronto’s Alek Manoah and New York’s Jameson Taillon, have produced at a fairly even clip this year but the former should still have an edge going forward. He throws harder and is only 24-years-old with his full arsenal still developing. Toronto would have been a much bigger favorite in this spot just a couple months ago, so buying low at a discount price is a good idea.
NHL (3-5, -$112): Colorado Avalanche -150 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final (SuperBook)
$225 to win $150
Here’s a reprise of “not a strong position but needs to be in the column.” The line is about right, but this is the biggest game of the day, and it seems to set up well for the Avalanche to take a 2-0 series lead — even if no one seems to be saying so. The Lightning seem to be the popular pick to even up the series after their Game 1 overtime loss, but that contest wasn’t as close as perceived. Colorado had seven more high-danger chances, per naturalstattrick.com, and looked like the better team throughout. And that was coming off a nine-day layoff, a position that traditionally hasn’t been beneficial in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Colorado should play closer to its full potential in Game 2, and that’s bad news for Tampa Bay. Counting out the two-time defending champions is never smart, and the Lightning will surely have a chance to get back in the series, but they’ll likely have to do it facing a 2-0 series hole as they head home.
UFC (6-10, -$720): Calvin Kattar -220 vs. Josh Emmett in main event of UFC Fight Night in Austin (Circa)
$440 to win $200
It may not be exciting or attractive laying this high of a price, but it just might be the best value on the board in the headlining fight of the night. The 34-year-old Kattar just has too many advantages over the 37-year-old Emmett in the featherweight main event. Kattar is faster, stronger and more technically sound. Emmett does have a path to victory – using his big-time power to starch Kattar in one of the early rounds. But Kattar should be too smart to fall into that trap and will outwork Emmett as the fight progresses. This should be safe to play to -250, but get it now because the line should close higher than that.
USFL (3-4, -$229.50): Michigan Panthers -2.5 vs. Pittsburgh Maulers (Caesars/William Hill)
$165 to win $150
You think NFL Week 18 is fun….how about USFL Week 10, where there’s even less on the line in final slate of the regular season. The four-team playoffs are fully set in the USFL meaning none of the four games this weekend hold any significance. That could make betting on any of the games seem foolish, but it feels obligatory after covering the league all season. And who would want to pass up one last chance to bet against the dreadful Maulers? The Panthers haven’t been nearly as bad with a -37 point differential to the Maulers’ -84. Michigan has the best running back in the league in Reggie Corbin, who’s averaging 6 yards per carry and should find plenty of holes against Pittsburgh. The Maulers’ offense is the real problem, though, as they’ve been hard-pressed to score while cycling through quarterbacks all year. They should suffer one last lopsided defeat here before the season ends.
Weekend wagers year to date: 34-40-2, $2,146
Weekend betting column all-time: 376-370-4, $8,664.43
Previous pending future wagers: Philadelphia Union 16-to-1 to win MLS Cup ($125 to win $2,000); Seattle Mariners +650 to win AL West ($100 to win $650); New Orleans Breakers 5-to-1 to win USFL title ($200 to win $1,000); Nathan MacKinnon to win Conn Smythe Trophy at 5-to-1 ($200 to win $1,000; Matthew Fitzpatrick to win U.S. Open at 40-to-1 ($100 to win $4,000)