John Raoux / Associated Press
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 | 2 a.m.
The Las Vegas Raiders probably could have used UFC heavyweight Tom Aspinall this season based on his victory last weekend.
Aspinall took down former champion Andrei Arlovski with what looked something like the perfect form tackle and forced a tap out via rear-naked choke early in the second round. It’s unlikely the 27-year-old from Manchester, England, would have really elevated the Raiders’ defense, but he did pull one thing out of mediocrity — last week’s betting column.
With about a minute and a half to spare, Aspinall cashed my ticket on him to win inside 1.5 rounds at +235 and produced a slight overall profit for the column despite a disappointing 2-3 record. He also extended a hot UFC run to bring the category into the black in the weekend betting column for the first time in months.
I’ve now hit four straight UFC winners with the other three coming in main-event bouts — Max Holloway, Dustin Poirier and Kamaru Usman. It’s back to the main event this weekend in an effort to prolong the streak.
I hope I didn’t just jinx it.
Read this week’s weekend wagering guide below. Records are attached individually by sport, with the cumulative at the bottom of the page. The monetary figure is calculated by the assumption of a bettor placing a $100 wager on each pick. Any picks outside of the column will be linked and included in the record total. Odds are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time.
Golf (5-3-1, $98.96): Abraham Ancer -110 third-round head-to-head vs. Kevin Kisner at World Golf Championships-Workday Championship (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Ancer is finding his groove, and once he finally settles into it, his upside is as high as anyone on tour. The former University of Oklahoma star posted a 4-under on the back nine on Friday including an Eagle on the 17th hole. His irons and off-the-tee shots were dialed in, making his surge appear attainable. He just might put up another great round on Saturday to get into contention on Sunday. Kisner is currently a stroke ahead of him at 8-under through two rounds, but Ancer’s style is better suited for this course — The Concession in Bradenton, Fla. Ancer should be better than Kisner period if he improves his consistency. Get in on Ancer before or as that happens and beat the market. That means get in on Ancer right now.
NBA (5-3, $163.63): Minnesota Timberwolves +4 at Washington Wizards (SuperBook)
Statistically on the year, the Timberwolves have been one of the two worst teams in the NBA. And yes, they’re bad, but they’re not that bad. The reason they’re better than their underlying metrics indicate is because they’ve played more than half their games without their best player, Karl-Anthony Towns. “KAT” is back now and Minnesota may be poised to go on a run as new coach Chris Finch gets settled in. The Wolves played well in their last game, Finch’s second at the helm, but lost 133-126 to Chicago in overtime. They’re also catching Washington at a good time with the Wizards returning home from a long, west-coast road trip. Minnesota may win this one outright.
NHL (5-2, $294.46): Carolina Hurricanes -120 vs. Florida Panthers (Circa Sports)
On Thursday, the Panthers scored three goals in the final seven minutes to come back and beat the Stars 3-2 in a game where they were outplayed throughout. So, in other words, it was a typical Florida win from this season. The Panthers have gotten a lot of breaks to sit atop the Central Division standings. That’s why I’ve gone from buying low on them coming into the season to now selling high. Florida’s all-offense, no-defense attack works against the mediocre bottom half of the division but there’s still a gulf between it and the top two teams. Carolina and Tampa Bay are way better than Florida. The odds aren’t capturing that chasm enough.
Mixed martial arts (6-6, $111): Ciryl Gane to beat Jairzinho Rozenstruik inside the distance at UFC Fight Night +110 (Circa)
Rozenstruik is a promising future heavyweight top contender; Gane is the promising future heavyweight top contender. Slate them for 25 minutes together in the octagon and it’s hard to imagine the latter not eventually finding a way to stop the former. Gane is the slightly better striker, and the much better grappler. He’s also the more aggressive fighter. While Rozenstruik will be sitting back looking for openings to employ his knockout power, Gane will be attacking. Whether it’s a knockout or submission, that ambition will serve him well and deliver him to victory sometime before the final bell.
NASCAR (6-7, $0.24): William Byron +110 head-to-head vs. Alex Bowman in Dixie Vodka 400 (William Hill)
He let me down last week, but I’m not afraid to get back on the 23-year-old, fourth-year Cup series driver. He’s been better than his teammate Bowman on tracks like Homestead-Miami Speedway, where this week’s race will take place. Byron finished ninth and ran as high as third when the Cup series last visited Homestead. He also has significant upside this season as he continues to improve while the 27-year-old Bowman is more “what you see is what you get”. He’s a good, though not great, driver with only two wins in seven years’ worth of Cup races. The available matchup lines were tight at publication time. This is far from a slam-dunk play and may end up being close, but Byron must be a take at plus-money in what should be at worst a pick’em type of pairing.
Weekend betting column year to date: 100-93-1, $2,395.91