The confetti was still falling from the rafters of Cowboys Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday when the wife hit me with the following: “So, now that you actually won money on a Super Bowl, does that mean I’m going to get a decent Valentine’s Day gift this year?”
“Well,” I replied, “ordinarily, yes. But I’m thinking of donating the winnings to charity—half to Christina Aguilera so she can purchase a copy of the lyrics to the national anthem, and the other half to the Black Eyed Peas so they can purchase some singing lessons.”
Holy crap, you talk about a train wreck. Throw in the horrible weather all week in Dallas, the NFL selling $800 tickets for seats that didn’t exist, a cab-driver strike and a stripper shortage, and, well, let’s just say that Super Bowl XLV wasn’t the NFL’s finest hour. (Seriously, a stripper shortage? Yet another reason to bring the Super Bowl to Vegas … permanently!)
In the end, the only thing about Super Bowl XLV that lived up to the hype was, thankfully, the Green Bay Packers, who held off the Steelers 31-25, covering as a 2½-point favorite. With that, I hit my big play on the Packers minus the points ($500), and even though I missed on the “under” ($110 loss), I still finished 5-3 with my Super Bowl selections (including online-only picks) and hauled in $460.
That takes my bankroll to $6,617, the highest it’s been since I took a beating in last year’s Super Bowl. Now if I can just produce one more solid week and get over $7,000 for the first time, maybe I can indeed get the wife that decent Valentine’s Day gift. (Anyone have directions to the nearest swap meet?)
On to this week’s basketball picks (all point spreads are projected) …
$330 (to win $300) on VANDERBILT (+2) vs. Kentucky (Feb. 12): When it comes to bending NCAA recruiting rules, Kentucky coach John Calipari makes Jerry Tarkanian look like Mother Teresa. Yet despite a roster of blue-chip players, Calipari’s Wildcats are struggling away from Rupp Arena, losing five of eight true road games, including three of four against SEC competition. Overall, Kentucky entered this week having lost three of five and in a 1-4 against-the-spread slump.
Vanderbilt entered this week at 16-6 overall and 12-1 at home—topping 70 points in 19 of 22 games—and the Commodores average more than 82 points per game at home. These teams have split their last eight meetings, with Kentucky losing three of four in Nashville. Vandy is 9-3 ATS as an underdog going back to last January (4-1 ATS this season), and Kentucky is 2-6 ATS in its eight SEC games, all as a favorite.
$220 (to win $200) on UNLV-San Diego State UNDER 128 (Feb. 12): Wanted to give out the Rebels here, as they’re in a triple-revenge situation against sixth-ranked San Diego State, and they’re likely to be a home underdog. But right now I’d rather invest in a time share in Egypt than put cash on UNLV, which went into its Feb. 9 game at TCU mired in an 0-5 ATS slump (and the Rebels are just 1-4 ATS in conference home games).
Instead, we’ll look for these Mountain West rivals to continue a recent trend of low-scoring battles. Final scores of the last dozen meetings: 55-49, 55-45, 68-58, 76-66, 71-57, 57-46, 68-66 (overtime), 68-58, 72-69, 67-52, 68-61, 63-60. Eight of those 12 played to the under. Beyond that the cold-shooting Rebels are on a 10-3 “under” run (6-2 “under” at home), and San Diego State is on an 11-3 “under” tear, with four of five conference road games going low.
$110 (to win $100) on Wichita State (+2½) at Northern Iowa (Feb. 12): Here’s what Wichita State has done in its first six Missouri Valley Conference road games: 16-point win, 14-point win, 14-point win, 14-point win, 10-point win, 16-point win. Needless to say, the Shockers cashed in each of those contests, part of a 10-3 ATS run. Wichita State entered the week on a five-game winning streak, and though the last team to beat the Shockers was Northern Iowa (a 77-74 road win as an 8½-point underdog), the Panthers are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games as a favorite (3-4 ATS at home).
Best of the Rest: Feb. 11 – Knicks (+3) vs. Lakers ($44); 76ers (+3½) vs. Spurs ($33). Feb. 12 – Washington (-13) vs. Stanford ($44); Syracuse (+2½) at Louisville ($44); Nebraska (-6) vs. Oklahoma State ($33); Oklahoma-Missouri OVER the total ($33); Timberwolves (+1½) vs. 76ers ($33); Thunder (-4½) at Kings ($33). Feb. 13 – Marquette (+5) at Georgetown ($44); Duke (-6) at Miami ($44); Thunder-Warriors OVER the total ($33); Lakers (pick) at Magic ($33).
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