Saturday, April 8, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Adama Sanogo and Carlos Alcaraz are the early heroes of the still-young, post-football season edition of the Weekend Wagers column.
The UConn center cashed a 3-to-1 shot for me as the NCAA Tournament’s Most Valuable Player earlier this week, while the young tennis star came through at 7-to-1 to win the Indian Wells Masters a few weeks earlier. I’d be buried deep into the red if it wasn’t for the unlikely pair of drastically different sports star that have me solidly on the profitable side.
That’s one of the great things for sports bettors that don’t specialize in one or two areas: You never know who exactly is going to come through in a big way and become an all-time personal favorite.
It’s also why this column will forever stay focused on handicapping as many different sports as possible. Maybe there’s another Alcaraz or Sanogo out there this week among the eight plays below.
Read on for this week’s weekend wagers. Odds are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time with the sports book noted. Plays outside of the column will be linked and tracked in the record at the bottom of the page.
Golf (0-2, -$400): Jon Rahm to win the Masters at +235 (Circa Sports)
$200 to win $470
Let’s try to repeat history here by trying to pick off a favorable price on the favorite heading into the weekend at Augusta National. Last year, I grabbed Scottie Scheffler at +110 in this space. Rahm at +235 this weekend might look even better. Yes, he’s currently three strokes behind Brooks Koepka but hasn’t finished his second round amidst Friday’s weather delay. Rahm is a level above Koepka at this point of their careers. Make that, Rahm is a level above virtually everyone when he’s got his best stuff. And it sure seems like he’s got his best stuff at the Masters. I’m fully expecting Rahm to capture his second career major this weekend, or more likely with the weather delays, on Monday in a delayed finish.
MLB (1-0, $200): Cincinnati Reds +130 at Philadelphia Phillies (Wynn)
$160 to win $208
The Phillies have the better offense, but the Reds’ edge in the pitching matchup this afternoon looms larger. Nick Lodolo should be able to outduel Bailey Falter. The Reds’ bullpen is far less reliable, but the Phillies’ relievers aren’t off to a great start this season. Philadelphia as a whole hasn’t really gotten on track early in the season as it adjusts to a number of injuries. The Phillies shouldn’t be laying this large of a price against anyone when they’re at the back end of their rotation.
NHL (1-4, -$680): Winnipeg Jets -155 vs. Nashville Predators (Wynn)
$310 to win $200
The Jets’ upset loss to the Flames on Wednesday means they can’t take any of their remaining games lightly at the moment. What once looked like an all-but-assured playoff spot is now at risk, as Winnipeg is tied at 89 points with Calgary and only one ahead of Nashville. The Jets have played one fewer game than the Flames, so they’re still in control of their own destiny. But they have to handle their business this evening. Nashville is somehow alive but a shell of the team that started the season with a slew of injuries holding it back. The Jets should close around -175.
UFC (5-4, $700): Israel Adesanya -125 vs. Alex Pereira at UFC 287 (South Point)
$250 to win $200
A lot of fans can’t help but compare this middleweight championship rematch to the welterweight title one that took place last month when Leon Edwards upset long-reigning champion Kamaru Usman for the second straight time. That’s ridiculous. A completely unrelated fight has no bearing on tonight’s rematch in Miami. And yes, Periera’s power, size and history of success against Adesanya (he also has two kickboxing wins over him) count for advantages. So much so that this might not have been a bet, or at least not as large of one, at the opening price of -150. But the line move has gone too far, especially at South Point which is offering the best odds in the world on Adesanya. “The Last Style Bender” was winning almost the entire fight before getting caught by Pereira and knocked out last November. To prove he’s one of the all-time greats, he’ll go to extreme lengths to prevent that from repeating this time around.
XFL (3-2, $220): Seattle Sea Dragons -1.5 vs. D.C. Defenders (BetMGM)
$220 to win $200
D.C. is 6-1 to Seattle’s 5-2, but those records might be the only area where the road team looks stronger than the home team. Seattle has outplayed D.C. from an efficiency standpoint on the season, including in a 22-18 Week 1 loss where the Sea Dragons outgained the Defenders by 1.1 yards per play. Seattle has been drawing large crowds to Lumen Field and should have a real homefield advantage in this game. D.C. is forced to travel cross-country after having played in Orlando last Saturday, where it lost 37-36 to the previously-winless Guardians. Seattle, on the other hand, has won five in a row. The Sea Dragons have arguably been the best team in the league, and they’re unlikely to waste a chance to show it on Sunday.
NASCAR (2-2, $90): Tyler Reddick at 6-to-1 (South Point)
$200 to win $1,200
I should probably go back to NASCAR head-to-head matchups in the column to cut down on variance, but I couldn’t pass up this price in this weekend’s Bristol dirt race. Based on his dirt history and speed in the first two years of this event — he narrowly finished second to Kyle Busch a year ago — Reddick should stand alone as the favorite for Sunday’s race. Instead, he’s slightly behind Kyle Larson, who’s as low as +350, and tied with Christopher Bell around town. Any of the three could win, but Reddick has the best chance. As long as he can avoid a big wreck — a big “if” in a gimmick race like this — he should be there at the end with a chance to cash at this generous price point.
Soccer (0-1, -$340): Manchester City to win the English Premier League at +125 (Circa)
$200 to win $250
For full disclosure, this is not my specialty. But I’ve suspected all year that Arsenal’s surprise standing atop the Premier League is bound to implode, and now appears to be the time to put that belief into action. An eight-point lead with nine games to go may look like a lot until you consider the remaining strength of schedule and games-played totals. Manchester City has one extra match against a much weaker slate of opponents. And, in a few weeks, they get to face Arsenal at home. There’s a real chance that Manchester City doesn’t lose again, and almost certainly shouldn’t for the next couple weeks, while the same can’t be said for Arsenal. Soccer may not be my go-to betting choice, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to replenish the pending futures tally with what looks like a valuable wager.
NBA (1-2, -$185): Jaren Jackson Jr. to win Defensive Player of the Year at -165 (BetMGM)
$495 to win $300
The line on the Grizzlies’ center to win this award is as high as -250 elsewhere, and that’s still not enough. Jackson is taking home the hardware. The Michigan State product’s impact on the defensive end has been far bigger than anyone else’s this season. Players like Brook Lopez, Draymond Green and Bam Adebayo have all been excellent at times but no one has been as consistent as Jackson. He’s the biggest reason why it looks like the Grizzlies will go into the Western Conference playoffs with the No. 2 seed. This award to recognize such greatness seems certain.
Weekend betting column year to date: 18-21, $680
Weekend betting column all-time: 497-518-5, $18,806.95
Previous pending future wagers: Vegas Golden Knights at 15-to-1 to win the 2023 Stanley Cup ($200 to win $3,000); Giannis Antetokounmpo to win NBA MVP at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Minnesota Timberwolves to win Northwest Division at +150 ($200 to win $300); Minnesota Timberwolves to win Western Conference at 15-to-1 ($100 to win $1,500); Minnesota Timberwolves to win NBA Finals at 33-to-1 ($75 to win $2,475); New Orleans Pelicans to win Southwest Division at +350 ($200 to win $700); New Orleans Pelicans to win Western Conference at 24-to-1 ($50 to win $1,200); New Orleans Pelicans to win NBA Finals at 55-to-1 ($50 to win $2,750); Golden State Warriors under 53 wins ($220 to win $200); Los Angeles Clippers under 52.5 wins ($220 to win $200); Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Chicago Blackhawks to have lowest regular season point total at 6-to-1 ($200 to win $1,200); Luka Doncic to win NBA MVP at 4-to-1 ($450 to win $1,800); Boston Celtics to win Atlantic Division at -220 ($660 to win $300); Texas to win the College Football Playoff at 30-to-1 ($100 to win $3,000); Tanner Mordecai to win the Heisman Trophy at 200-to-1 ($30 to win $6,000); Atlanta Braves at 5-to-1 to win the National League ($300 to win $1,500; Atlanta Braves at 10-to-1 to win the World Series ($300 to win $3,000); Buffalo Bills at 9-to-1 to win Super Bowl 58 ($300 to win $2,700); Scottie Scheffler at 13-to-1 to win the Masters ($200 to win $2,600); Thomas Pieters to be top finishing LIV golfer in Masters at 25-to-1