The answer: Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. The question: Who were the only people in Las Vegas hotter than me last week?
Hey, after blowing it with my Super Bowl picks in my debut column, allow me a moment to crow after going 3-for-3 with last week’s basketball selections. Besides, it’s the first—and last—time I’ll ever be mentioned in the same breath as Bar Refaeli and Brooklyn Decker (even if I’m the one doing the mentioning!)
My 3-0 showing with Kansas State and Portland on Feb. 13, and Nate Robinson in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest earned me $325, boosting my bankroll to $5,895. This week, I’m going for another hoops trifecta with a pair of selections from college basketball and a top play from the NBA.
$440 (to win $400) on Nuggets over Celtics (Sunday, Feb. 21): I don’t want to say the Celtics are getting old, but rumor has it their Big Three (Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett) had AARP cards attached to their paychecks this week. Now these geriatrics have to face Carmelo Anthony and the run-and-gun, first-place Nuggets in the Mile High City—and it’s an early start. But here’s the best part: This is Boston’s fourth road game in six days. That is a brutal stretch for any NBA team, let alone one whose three best players wear Depends instead of jocks. Four of the Celtics’ last five trips to Denver have ended in losses by margins of 21, 11, 10 and six points, and they failed to cover the spread in all four defeats. The Nuggets should be about 7-point favorites in this one.
$220 (to win $200) on Oklahoma State over Baylor (Saturday, Feb. 22): Last week, I used my big play on Kansas State as a 15-point home favorite over Colorado, and I explained one of the reasons for the selection was the incredible success Big 12 teams had at home. Well, Big 12 squads entered this week with an aggregate 147-21 home record. Here’s how that relates to this play on Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are 12-1 at home this season and 17-1 going back to last February. Baylor is 4-3 on the road, including 2-3 in conference road games (those two wins came by a total of five points). And with Baylor’s 83-70 win over Oklahoma State a month ago in Texas, the home team has now won eight straight meetings in this rivalry, going 6-0 against the spread in the last six (including the Cowboys’ 84-74 win as a 4.5-point home favorite last year). Plus, OSU, which should be about a 4-point favorite here, has been the equivalent of an ATM machine recently, cashing in 21 of its last 30 games overall and 21 of its last 29 home contests.
$110 (to win $100) on Missouri State over University of Nevada, Reno (Saturday, Feb. 22): ESPN not only never misses an opportunity to shamelessly promote itself, it goes out of its way to create said opportunities. Hence the “Bracket Buster” gimmick, with mid-major conferences going head-to-head against each other. UNR is a yearly “Bracket Buster” participant, and the Wolf Pack are 4-1 straight-up and ATS the last five years. However, four of those five wins came in Reno. The one loss: 77-49 at Southern Illinois two years ago. Now the Wolf Pack travel again, this time to Missouri State (and like Southern Illinois, Missouri State comes from the Missouri Valley Conference). The Bears, who should be about 6.5-point favorites, are 13-2 on their home court this season, while UNR is just 3-7 SU and ATS when it leaves the Biggest Little Dump—er, I mean City—in the World. The Pack also entered this week in a 1-7 spread-covering slump, including 0-5 ATS in the last five. In other words, when you’ve bet on Reno lately, you’ve been flushing your money down the toilet, which seems apropos.