Your boy has been doing well for himself. If you followed my advice and have rolled with the Blue Jackets and the Blackhawks, good on ya. Blue Jackets are 7-2-1 in their last 10, with three shutouts in the past four games from the best goalie in the game. The Blackhawks are 12 for their last 13. If you watched this past weekend’s fight card, you would’ve seen Tyron Woodley beat Wonderboy in arguably the worst title fight of all time, and seen Alistair Overeem TKO Mark Hunt. Aside from the Rashad/Dan Kelly fight, I did well. Moving on to this week, I have much of the same hockey advice, some college basketball, plus a massively underrated UFC card this weekend that’s free on Fox Sports 1. Enough stroking myself, let’s get down to it.
Per usual, lines are from our friends at mybookie.ag.
Last week I told you to ride Chicago and Columbus and you’d end up on top. This week I’m going to tell you to do the same damn thing. Columbus has two games back-to-back with the Sabres on Friday and Saturday. Expect a 1.5 goal spread and take the Jackets. Sergei Bobrovsky is on an absolute tear and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. They haven’t been scoring as much lately, but expect a big game out of the team who has scored 7+ goals five different times this year, including a 10-0 game against Montreal. Chicago has won 12 of their last 13 games, and they travel to Anaheim and host the Red Wings to finish up this week. Both games are absolutely winnable, and they should be the favorites in both. They may slow down next week with Minnesota and Montreal in consecutive games, but with a relatively mild stretch after that, Chicago should be in fantastic shape heading into the playoffs.
Conference tournaments are going on this week prior to the big dance, and many are intriguing. Of course you’ll have your usual suspects like Gonzaga come out of the WCC, but the major conferences are a little more up in the air. In the Big Ten, Purdue is the favorite going in. They are a tremendously talented team in what has been a fairly weak season in the conference. At +120, you don’t get a ton of return on your bet, so a team like Maryland (24-7) at +650 would be my bet. In the SEC, Kentcuky at -145 and Florida at +110 are the biggest favorites heading into the tournament. Kentucky would be my pick in what is a terrible basketball conference, but teams like Arkansas at +800 and South Carolina at +650 could be sleepers worth a few dollars.
The two other conferences I’d like to touch on are the Big East and the Big 12. Villanova and Kansas, respectively, are and should be massive favorites going in. Kansas’ ridiculous regular season conference title streak doesn’t always carry over into the conference tourney, and a team like Iowa State at +750 could be worth a gamble. Kansas is currently sitting at -140, and for a tournament, is not worth the bet. Villanova is currently at -210 to win the Big East, with teams like Butler and Creighton riding behind them at +300 and +550. You could take a shot with either one, but I personally wouldn’t touch this conference as the bet wouldn’t be worth the return.
After being in the money this past weekend, there is another great fight card this weekend. Kelvin Gastelum (-390) is fighting Vitor Belfort (+305) in the main event, and the UFC put this matchup together in an attempt to elevate their rising star to the next level. Gastelum looked fantastic in his first bout at 185 lbs against Tim Kennedy, where Belfort has looked terrible since his TRT exemption was taken away. This being in Brazil shouldn’t have too much of an impact, and I would pick Gastelum to roll on his way to a top-5 matchup in his next fight.
On the undercard, Gian Villante (+120) takes on Shogun Rua (-140), and Beneil Dariush (+135) squares off with Edson Barboza (-160). On this card, I’m taking the favorites across the board. Shogun has not looked good, and is definitely on the back nine of his career, but Gian Villante has never done anything to impress me. He gets a reputation from being Chris Weidman’s favorite training partner, but he seems like one of those gym warriors who can’t bring it on fight night. If Shogun stops Villante, it wouldn’t shock me if he places his gloves in the center of the octagon and retires in his home country. Both Barboza and Dariush have ridiculous striking, but the X-factor in this fight is going to be Barboza’s extremely underrated wrestling. Since training in New Jersey with Frankie Edgar, Barboza’s defensive wrestling has allowed him to stay on his feet and land those leg kicks and combinations like he does best. I expect Barboza to stay on the outside as the longer fighter and win the fight via decision in what should be a fun, back and forth, fight of the night type fight.
Listen to the hosts of Back Door Cover talk sports on Wednesday’s episode below..
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