The Breakfast Spread: Mid-Majors Earn Tournament Bids, Rockets Beat Mavericks
It was an exciting weekend in college hoops as multiple mid-majors punched their tickets to the Big Dance. Conference tournaments continue this week, and there could be some value in the Big 12 Tournament if one of the favorites best players is forced to sit out. In the NBA, the Rockets used defense to beat the Mavericks Sunday. Tonight, the Detroit Pistons will try to stay hot in Brooklyn. Here is a sports betting recap from the weekend and a lookahead to Monday.
Conference Champions Crowned
From crowning regular-season conference champions to punching the first tickets to the Big Dance, it was an exciting weekend in college hoops.
On Saturday, the North Carolina Tar Heels finished their sweep of the Duke Blue Devils to share the ACC regular-season title with the Virginia Cavaliers. North Carolina covered the 4.5-point spread, beating Duke 79-70 in the most anticipated game of the day.
Though everyone had their eyes on the Duke-UNC game, Kansas State dominated Oklahoma 68-53 as 7.5-point road favorites to earn their share of the Big 12 Title. Earlier in the day, Texas Tech took on Iowa State as 2.5-point road favorites themselves. Led by Big 12 player of the year, Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech closed on the road 80-73. Culver had arguably his best game of the year with 31 points shooting 12-for-19 from the field. With K-State and Tech Big 12 co-champs, this marks the first time in 15 years that Kansas hasn’t finished the season as Big 12 champions.
Later Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans came back from a 6-point halftime deficit to beat the Michigan Wolverines 75-63. The win gave Michigan State a share of their own conference title, as they split the Big 10 with the Purdue Boilermakers. More importantly for bettors, Michigan State covered the 3.5 points they were favored by. Second half MSU backers didn’t have quite as much of a sweat as the Spartans outscored the Wolverines 46-28 in the last 20 minutes of play, covering the second half spread (-2) by 16 points.
Mid-major teams that clinched their tickets to March Madness with conference tournament wins over the weekend include Gardner-Webb (+800) of the Big South, Liberty (+200) of the Atlantic Sun, Murray State (+140) of the Ohio Valley, and Bradley (+800) in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Two more mid-majors will claim their tickets Monday night and more conference tourneys will tip off throughout the week. Be sure to check out my conversation with Thomas Casale as we break down Power 5 conference tournament picks and sleepers tomorrow.
If you caught our conversation last week, I hope you signed up FanDuel Sportsbook to bet on Gonzaga (-700) to win the WCC. With an automatic bid to the semifinals, they play their first game of the tourney tonight as 23.5-point favorites against Pepperdine. It’s safe to say, the money line itself in this game will be higher than -700 if it’s posted at all.
The Big 12 Tournament tips off Wednesday, and one of the favorites could be missing their best players.
Houston Uses Defense to Outlast Dallas
Defense helped the Houston Rockets (-8.5) extend their win streak to eight games on Sunday as the Rockets scored their fewest points in a win since October 30, 2016. Beating the Mavericks 95-94, the close game gave the edge to both the under and the underdogs, each finishing 5-4 on the day.
The slow game can largely be attributed to James Harden who saw the bench much of the third quarter after earning his fifth foul just 20 seconds into the second half. Harden only scored 20 points, making it the first time in 43 games that Harden hasn’t led his team in scoring. This time it was Eric Gordon leading the Rockets with 26 points, while Clint Capela and Gerald green each scored double-digits of their own. Luckily, the Rockets defense stepped up to hold their opponent to under 100 points for the third straight game.
Stat of the Day
In the biggest upset of the season, the Phoenix Suns snap an 18-game losing streak to the Golden State Warriors with a 115-111 win. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined to miss 22 three-pointers.
The Detroit Pistons won and covered their fifth game in a row, beating the Chicago Bulls 131-108. Tonight the Pistons get 2 points from oddsmakers when they face the Brooklyn Nets. Both teams are two games above .500 and are neck-and-neck for the Eastern Conference six-seed. The Pistons are playing some of their best basketball of the season , including help from their bench. Langston Galloway has made 12 consecutive threes, but he’s not the only Piston on a streak. Andre Drummond recorded his 18th double-double in a row Sunday. I’m sticking with the hot hand(s). Breakfast Pick: Pistons +2.
Molinari (+2500) Earns Third PGA Tour Victory
Francesco Molinari started the day five strokes back from the leader at the the Arnold Palmer Invitational. By hole No. 9, Molinari had recorded four birdies at the turn, but with several golfers lurking behind, including Ryder Cup teammates Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood, it looked like more work needed to be done. Molinari closed out a bogey-free round by adding four more birdies on the back nine to shoot an eight-under 64. Finishing 12-under for the tournament, Molinari sealed a two-stroke victory and Molinari backers cashed +2500 tickets on the outright win.
In July Molinari earned his first win on the PGA Tour at the Quicken Loans National. Just 12 tournaments later and Molinari is now a three-time winner on tour. Molinari is currently +2100 to win this week’s Players Championship, and has more Top 5 finishes at this event than any other player in the last five years.
Casale and I talk mid-major picks and sleepers.
Which team will select Kyler Murray? Casale covers New Jersey draft odds here.
Jason Day’s WD leaves golf bettors scrambling for information.
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