As the summer sports menu dries up, it’s time to take a look ahead


Photo by Getty Images | Bryce Harper might just lead the Washington Nationals to the NL pennant.

For the 20-something set, last weekend will be remembered for the Electric Daisy Carnival (OK, maybe “remembered” is the wrong verb). Those of us who wake up (rather than retire) at the crack of dawn will remember it for Maria Sharapova (and her tight black tennis dress) winning the French Open women’s title … and for Union Rags slipping past Paynter at the wire to win the Belmont Stakes (the race in which I’ll Have Another decided not to have another) … and a thrilling Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals … and a riveting Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals … and yet another black eye for boxing thanks to two blind/senile/corrupt/all-of-the-above judges who robbed Manny Pacquiao of his 16th straight win.

And that was just on Saturday. The weekend also featured a UFC card, a six-pitcher no-hitter by the Seattle Mariners, Rafael Nadal’s seventh French Open title and the European Soccer championships (kidding about the soccer—just making sure you’re still reading!).

My point: For those who love sports—particularly those who love to wager on sports—you could not have asked for a more action-packed 96 hours … unless, of course, football (real football) was involved. Which brings me to my second point: Fasten your seatbelts, as the flight to sports-betting purgatory is now on final approach.

Indeed, as soon as LeBron James and the Heat lose another NBA Finals, here’s what the sports-betting menu will look like until the NFL preseason kicks off Aug. 5 with the Hall of Fame Game: baseball, Wimbledon, the British Open and … baseball. (That blood-curdling scream you just heard came from sportsbook directors across the Valley.)

So what’s a sports bettor to do for the next seven weeks (besides catch up on sleep and Jersey Shore reruns)? Look to the future—the futures board, to be precise. Here are my six best bets to get you through the dog days:

LSU “over” 10 wins (-140): LSU’s 2012 schedule features eight home games (North Texas, Washington, Idaho, Towson, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss) and four road games (Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M, Arkansas). Now tell me where you see three losses (which is what it would take to lose this bet). The Golden Nugget’s oddsmakers sure can’t see it; they recently released 111 Games of the Year, seven of which included the Tigers (No. 3 in the preseason rankings). Yep, they’re favored in all seven (including by two points over Alabama).

UNLV +35½ at Boise State (Oct. 20): The Rebels can’t possibly be any worse than they were last year (right?), while Boise State absolutely will be (the Broncos have to replace a ton of talent, including four-year starting QB Kellen Moore). Remember, last year UNLV lost by “only” 27 points (48-21) to Boise (and the game was tied at 14 late in the first half).

Washington Nationals to win the NL pennant (5-to-1): Back in April, the Monkey (see tagline below) gave you the Dodgers to win the National League pennant. Strong call, as L.A. began this week with the best record and biggest divisional lead in baseball. Of course, now there’s no value in betting the Dodgers. More importantly, they’re a fraud (believe me, I’m a fan; I know!). The Nationals, whose record is second only to L.A.’s, are the real deal, with an outstanding pitching staff (one that owns baseball’s best team ERA) and a strong lineup that, aside from Las Vegas wunderkind Bryce Harper, hasn’t started hitting yet.

Houston Texans “over” 10 wins (-140): I’ll dive into NFL season over/under win totals next month, but here’s my early favorite. Last year, Houston won 10 games, including three with a third-string rookie quarterback. This year, the Texans once again get six games against the pitiful (and QB-challenged) Colts, Jaguars and Titans. Now get this: The Patriots are favored to win the AFC, and their win total is 12. The Texans have the second-best odds in the AFC, and their win total is 10. Hmm …

Tim Tebow to be the Jets’ starting quarterback by Oct. 1 (-150): OK, I made this one up. It’s still a great bet if you can sucker a friend (or Mark Sanchez) into taking it.

Carolina Panthers to win the NFC (20-to-1): The Saints are a mess. The 49ers will come back to earth. The Giants always suck the year after winning the Super Bowl. The Cowboys are the Cowboys. The Lions can’t stay off the police blotter. The Eagles still have Andy Reid on the sideline (and, at some point, Mike Vick in the infirmary). The Falcons are underachievers. And Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is due for an injury. So … why not Carolina? That’s right: In Cam I trust!

(Did I just type that? Yep, it’s time for a vacation.)

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Las Vegas took it on the chin the second weekend in June. Saturday should have been great: a championship boxing match, sportsbook action for an NBA Game 7 and hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals, and the second night of the Electric Daisy Carnival, an event that’s been hyped for months. It’s safe to say that thousands of visitors were primed to have the best night ever.