Alright you squids, it’s officially the best week of the year for golf: Masters week. Along with the Masters, we have the NHL and NBA seasons winding down and teams jockeying for playoff position, and the NCAA college basketball national championship game tonight. As with any busy week in sports, it’s a good time to head to your bookie, toss him a couple shillings, and pray to the sports gods that your picks end up on top. So pick up your wallets and toss on a golf polo: it’s time to head to the sportsbook.
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The Masters is a tricky, tricky tournament from which to pick a winner. When I bet golf tournaments, I usually rely on past finishes at said tournament, and how hot the players are coming in. No one on the tour is hotter than world number one and reformed savage, Dustin Johnson. He is currently the favorite, at +580, to win the whole damn thing. He rakes off the tee, his short game is improving, and I’m hoping he cleared that mental hurdle by finally winning a major last season. After winning three straight tournaments, it’s safe to say he’s worth a bet, albeit with a sub-par return.
Other favorites include Jordan Spieth (+650), Rory McIlroy (+700), and Jason Day (+1200). Spieth is clearly worth a bet, with three straight top-two finishes in Augusta. As far as the other two go, Rory is looking for his first Masters win, and Jason Day is in a questionable mental place as he is reeling from the terrible news about his mother’s health (prayers up for the Days). I would stay away from both of them, based on return and situation. Along with McIlroy and Day, I’d also stay away from Fowler and Sergio. Fowler has never played great at Augusta, save for his phenomenal weekend in 2014, and Sergio has self-admitted that he may not have what it takes to win a major. Self-doubt: NF.
I usually like to take a few different players for any tournament I bet on. The return for every player is enough to where you can do that and still come out ahead, especially if your longshots hit. Some of the guys I plan on throwing money at are fellow Sun Devil Jon Rahm (+3000), American hero Patrick Reed (+3300), and J.B. Holmes (+6000). Rahm is playing well, taking second in the WGC-Dell Match Play two weeks ago (behind DJ). Patrick Reed has the ability to play phenomenal golf, but has a tendency to be inconsistent. J.B. Holmes is another guy who can rake off the tee, and when he starts on the right foot, can get hot in a hurry.
Bets: Dustin Johnson (+580), Jon Rahm (+3000), Patrick Reed (+3300), JB Holmes (+6000)
NCAA College Basketball National Championship – North Carolina (-1.5) vs. Gonzaga
Two number one seeds have managed to make it to the finals. I said on the first weekend of the tournament that I was high on Gonzaga and got some ridicule for it. In hindsight, I wish I was high enough on the Zags to take them this far, but that’s how it goes. North Carolina is arguably the most talented team in the country, and it really isn’t a surprise that they are in this situation. Gonzaga played a tough back and forth game against South Carolina, where their 7-foot freshman Zach Collins shined on the boards and defensively. North Carolina needed some awful rebounding, or lack thereof, to get past Oregon in their Final Four game. The Tar Heels are a one-and-a-half-point favorite coming in, with no money line available. I would take the Zags straight up if available; if not, take them to cover.
Bet: Gonzaga +1.5 (or straight up, if offered)
This time of year in the NHL is absolute magic. The last week or two of the regular season is where all the teams are jockeying for playoff position in what is the absolute worst playoff format in all of sports. I went to a game last night and you can tell that the playoffs are almost here. The fans are loud, the players are testy, and the games are incredibly tense. A few teams, such as the Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and Oilers, are hot as we move towards the post season. The lines are usually a point-and-a half one way or the other, so this week I would look to follow Toronto as they play Buffalo (Monday), Chicago as they take on Colorado (Tuesday), Edmonton as they take on Los Angeles (Tuesday (this line may go up to 2.5, so watch out for that)), Carolina as they play the Islanders (Thursday), and Columbus as they play Winnipeg (Thursday).
The NBA season is also winding down, so we look to a number of different storylines throughout the association. Can Cleveland take back the top spot in the east, or, better yet, does it even matter? Can the Warriors beat San Antonio in a seven-game series? Who is the league MVP? Cleveland is a veteran team who has obviously been there before, and I don’t think it matters whether they have the one or the two seed. Boston’s inability to make a move to get PG13 or Jimmy Butler at the deadline is going to haunt them, and I fully expect the Cavs to waltz through the East per usual.
It will be interesting to see how the Warriors respond moving forward when they get Durant back. Steph has started to return to last year’s form, the Warriors have won 11 in a row (Take them every game this week — Minnesota, Phoenix, and New Orleans) but chemistry is everything in the playoffs. Turning to the MVP discussion, much to W.R. Bolen’s chagrin, Russell Westbrook is the MVP. He’s going to break the Big O’s triple-double record and average a triple-double for the entire season. He does everything, and his team looks awful without him on the floor. James Harden has had an unbelievable season, and his team has won more, but Russ has just been better. Oh, and I’ll just leave this one here:
Check that date..
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