Saturday, June 25, 2022 | 2 a.m.
Like Rick Ross’ latest album, the Weekend Wagers is richer than it’s ever been.
Chalk it up to Matthew Fitzpatrick, who cashed my 40-to-1 position to win the U.S. Open last week. Last week’s column was a loser overall, but it didn’t matter much at all with a cashing a $100-to-win-$4,000 ticket on Fitzpatrick placed two weeks before.
That wager was made right after Justin Thomas came through at 18-to-1 to win the PGA Championship, a bet placed after Scottie Scheffler prevailed at the Masters. So there’s no choice but to try to keep the same successful pattern and look ahead to next month’s major, the Open Championship, this week.
Find that at the bottom of the page, capping seven other bets on five other sports.
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.
College Baseball (1-0, $157.50): Ole Miss -110 vs. Oklahoma to win College World Series (Circa Sports)
$330 to win $300
It’s important to note this bet is for the full best-of-three series, not Saturday’s opener. Ole Miss hasn’t just been better than Oklahoma since the field was set in this year’s NCAA Baseball Tournament; it’s been better than everyone. In every category. It’s been a crazy run for one of the last four sides included in the 64-team field, but one that shouldn’t end until the Rebels win two more games. Yes, they’ve lost one more game than the Sooners since reaching the final eight in Omaha but that’s because they had the much tougher side of the bracket. And, in that game, they lost by one run to Arkansas despite having the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. It’s just more proof that this is the best team in the country right now. Ole Miss incredibly opened as a slight underdog to Oklahoma — +105 at Circa — but should be about a -130 favorite, leaving plenty of room to back it before Game 1 this afternoon.
MLB (6-3, $483): Atlanta Braves -120 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (Wynn)
$240 to win $200
Today’s starter for the Braves, Max Fried, is pitching as well as anyone in baseball. Atlanta’s lineup is also hitting better than Los Angeles’ — a trend that should keep up with previous MVP frontrunner Mookie Betts currently on the injured reserve list. Dodgers’ starter Andrew Heaney has thrown well this year when healthy as well, but he’s not in the same class as Fried. Look for this line to bloat and close around -140 before first pitch. Grab the Braves at any value price before it gets that high.
MLB (6-3, $483): Seattle Mariners +105 at Los Angeles Angels (Wynn)
$200 to win $210
Mariners’ starter Logan Gilbert might have gotten a little too much credit for his hot start to the season by the betting market, but it’s now swung the other way. He’s not getting enough of a boost despite having barely fallen off and proven himself as a young Ace pitcher on the rise. At the least, he’s got an advantage over Angels starter Patrick Sandoval. This same pitching matchup squared off a week ago, and Seattle closed as a -150 favorite. That makes this way too big of an adjustment for home-field advantage, even though the Angels won the first game 4-2 in extra innings. Gilbert gave up a pair of runs over six innings in the matchup, but also struck out six and walked none. He deserved a better fate against Sandoval, one he should get today.
USFL (4-4, -$79.50): New Orleans Breakers +5 vs. Birmingham Stallions in league semifinals (Caesar/William Hill)
$220 to win $200
Yes, I’m already riding a USFL future on the Breakers to win the league. No, that’s not enough to sit out of the South Division championship game tonight in Canton, Ohio. Not at this price. Birmingham is the league’s overall No. 1 seed with a 9-1 record, but from an efficiency standpoint, it really hasn’t been much better than New Orleans. Each of the first two matchups between these teams were close, especially in Week 8 where Birmingham escaped 10-9. New Orleans has the far stronger defense, and an offense that should be more than capable of keeping up points-wise. Birmingham shouldn’t be any higher than a 3-point favorite.
UFC (6-11, -$1,160): Rodolfo Vieira +110 vs. Chris Curtis and Rodolfo Vieira +185 by submission vs. Chris Curtis at UFC Fight Night (Caesars/William Hill)
$200 to win $220 and $140 to win $252
I think Vieira is the best bet on this weekend’s UFC card, and my only hesitation was whether to back him straight-up or though the submission prop. Then it hit me — Why not both? I’m desperate to turn around the column-worst UFC record, and now more than equipped with enough bankroll to do it, there’s no reason not to fire on both prices since they both have value. Chris Curtis came out of nowhere — he nearly retired — to score back-to-back knockouts in the UFC last year. But the feel-good story has yielded too much influence in the betting market. Vieira is far more proven fighter, especially in the grappling realm where he’s a former jiujitsu world champion. He should force Curtis to tap out quickly, but even if he doesn’t and holds on for a decision win, I’ll still scratch out a profit by betting it this way.
UFC (6-11, -$1,160): Umar Nurmagomedov -140 by stoppage vs. Nate Maness (Boyd Sports)
$420 to win $300
The younger Nurmagomedov — yes, he’s the retired all-time great Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin — has stopped three straight opponents within the first two rounds. He’s beaten three out of his last four in the first round. What makes Maness any different? The 30-year-old has shown some toughness and skill in the octagon, but he’s not on Nurmagomedov’s level. The moneyline price on the fight of Nurmagomedov -1000 illustrates as much, but this prop doesn’t go far enough. There’s always the danger of Nurmagomedov just controlling Maness en route to a decision victory, but the probability is relatively low. Nurmagomedov by knockout/TKO or submission should be closer to -200.
NASCAR (7-5, $1,320): Aric Almirola -110 head-to-head vs. Austin Cindric in Ally 400 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
$220 to win $200
It wasn’t quite the level of the Fitzpatrick score, but the column is also coming off a NASCAR outright winner via Denny Hamlin taking down the Coca-Cola 600 at 10-to-1. I considered trying to hit another winner this time around, but there’s too much uncertainty pre-practice in Nashville. Instead, let’s target a middle-of-the-road driver who should have some hidden value on a short, flat track like Nashville. Almirola hasn’t been great this year, but aside from the not-applicable-here Daytona 500, but he’s been better than Cindric despite having worse equipment. And now he’s going to a track that meshes better with his strengths.
Golf (3-3-2, $5,892.50): Jon Rahm 15-to-1 to win the Open Championship (South Point)
$150 to win $2,250
The plan here was to pick off the lone 12-to-1 left on Rory McIlroy in town for the final major of the year. But the price inexplicably dropped all the way to +750 at South Point — a roughly fair 10-to-1 is available elsewhere — despite McIlroy having a rough day in the second round of the Travelers Championship on Friday. So that diverted my attention elsewhere, to the player who should be priced as the second, if not, co-favorite to McIlroy at St. Andrew’s in Rahm. There’ no way he should be available at 15-to-1, and he’s not anywhere else in the world. Rahm’s strengths of driving distance, approach shots and playing on links-style courses is a perfect fit at “the birthplace of golf.” Perhaps I’ll circle back and add McIlroy in search of hitting the betting grand-slam of majors in Weekend Wagers this year, but for now, achieving that will rest on Rahm’s shoulders.
Weekend wagers year to date: 38-43-2, $5,774.50
Weekend betting column all-time: 380-373-4, $12,292.93
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)