Saturday, June 3, 2023 | 2 a.m. | Saturday, June 3, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Put the last edition of Weekend Wagers in the record books as an all-time great outing, and certainly the most successful of the year so far.
The seven nonfuture plays swept for a profit of $2,493. The only bet that resulted in a loss last weekend was a play placed earlier on Alex Palou to win the Indianapolis 500, but Ryan Blaney more than made up for that by prevailing in the Coca-Cola 600 at odds of 25-to-1.
A nice cushion was built up in the column’s yearly bankroll — which is tracked at the bottom of the page — but it can go flat really quick with a couple poor weeks. I’ll be looking to avoid that by staying the course starting now with bets across the sports landscape.
Read on for eight bets in 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.
NHL (5-6, -$82): Jack Eichel to win the Conn Smythe Trophy at +375 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
$100 to win $375
With a big future ticket already riding on the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup Final, I probably don’t need to be adding to my exposure. But I can’t help it; I think Eichel taking home the NHL playoffs’ most valuable player award represents value. The narrative is that the race is wide open and at least five Golden Knights are bunched together with about the same chance. That might be true from a pure statistical standpoint, but there’s always a star bias in these awards markets. Eichel is undeniably the Golden Knights’ biggest star. He also enters the final series leading the team in points, and if the Golden Knights want to beat the Panthers, they’ll need Eichel at his best. I’ll protect myself a little bit with a small bet, but Eichel is the only play worth making at the current Conn Smythe odds.
MLB (5-4, $340): San Diego Padres -165 vs. Chicago Cubs
$330 to win $200
It took a while, but the Padres have finally underperformed for long enough that the betting market has started to devalue them. The star-studded hitting team has been a great bet-against for the first couple months, but that’s now shifting. They’re now a bet-on, destined to make a run towards playoff contention and finish much better than their current .464 win percentage. In today’s game, they have an advantage on the mound too with Yu Darvish a better bet than the Cubs’ Drew Smyly. I price San Diego closer to -180, leaving enough value for a play in tonight’s game at Petco Park.
UFC (8-9, $110): Alex Caceres -175 vs. Daniel Pineda at UFC Fight Night (BetMGM)
$350 to win $200
Caceres is still being priced somewhat like the young prospect who struggled to find his footing in the UFC fighting at unnatural weight classes. He’s way past that now. The 34-year-old is now a reliable veteran, having won six of his last seven fights and often outclassing opponents with superior technique. That looks like what will happen in tonight’s co-main event against Pineda, who might be more dangerous than Caceres but certainly less refined. Pineda is also the somewhat rate fighter with more mileage than Caceres considering he’s 37 years old with a career record of 28-14. Caceres should be a touch over -200 in this matchup.
NASCAR (7-6, $1,820): Corey LaJoie -110 head-to-head vs. Chase Briscoe in Enjoy Illinois 300 (BetFred Sports at Virgin Hotels)
$220 to win $200
LaJoie is filling in for the suspended Chase Elliott in this week’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway outside of St. Louis, and he’s talented enough to make the most of it. Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports car has been one of the fastest in NASCAR over the last couple years, and it would be a mistake to expect a major drop-off with LaJoie in the driver’s seat. He should at least be able to outdo Briscoe, who’s had a rough few weeks. After a surprisingly successful sophomore Cup season that included a victory and 10 top 10s, Briscoe has been noncompetitive this year. He also picked up a 120 regular-season point penalty this week for an illegal part found his car. LaJoie is someone to look to bet-on this week; Briscoe is someone to fade. It’s a stroke of luck that they’re matched up together at one local sports book.
NASCAR (7-6, $1,820): Kyle Busch to win Enjoy Illinois 300 at 11-to-1 (Boyd Sports) and Christopher Bell to win Enjoy Illinois 300 at 11-to-1 (William Hill/Caesars)
$100 to win $1,100 on each
I should probably just stick with the matchup, but I feel obligated to place a couple outrights here after cashing with Blaney a week ago. Blaney could possibly even prevail two weeks in a row, but he shouldn’t be favored over this pair. Busch had the fastest car at this race a year ago before ultimately finishing second behind Joey Logano. Bell has been the most consistent of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars this season, a team that has thrived on short, flat ovals like today’s track. This race looks wide open, but I’d rather have Busch and Bell than anyone else so getting both at 11-to-1 is more than good enough.
NBA (8-9, -$545): Jamal Murray under 26.5 points at -111 in Game 2 of NBA Finals (Boyd Sports)
$222 to win $200
Some of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s famed adjustments are coming ahead of Game 2, but there’s only so much he can do against Nikola Jokic, the best player in the world. Spoelstra may instead double down on making sure no one else beats Miami, including Murray who’s been on a nonstop heater dating back to the Western Conference Finals. It’s hard not to give Murray credit for rising to the occasion, but he’s also playing too far above his baseline. Some regression is likely coming, especially with Miami increasing its effort to ensure as much.
College baseball (0-0, $0): LSU to win the College World Series at +950 (Circa)
$200 to win $1,900
There’s nothing like a futures sweat on the college baseball tournament this time of the year, so let’s get in on the fun over the next three weeks. A few months ago, it would have been a surprise to see LSU at this high of a price. The Tigers are the most talented team in the country but fell off slightly down the stretch of the season and were bounced early in the SEC Tournament. A lot of that had to do with an unreliable bullpen, but relief arms are notoriously volatile. The bullpen could easily see some positive regression and play better in the national postseason. I bet several other teams before adding LSU to the portfolio, but it was unavoidable at this price.
Golf (2-4, $220): Scottie Scheffler at 10-to-1 to win the U.S. Open (Wynn) and Patrick Cantlay at 18-to-1 to win the U.S. Open (BetMGM)
$200 to win $2,000 on Scheffler; $115 to win $2,070 on Cantlay
Cantlay looks like he’s about to win the Memorial Tournament this weekend, but instead of taking the diminished +350 outright price after round two, let’s look ahead for a bigger payout in the next major two weeks from now. Los Angeles Country Club is a place that Cantlay, who grew up in Southern California and went to UCLA, knows well. The same can’t be said for the Texan and Longhorn Scheffler, who’s also struggling at the Memorial for his standards with a +3 score. But Scheffler has lapped the PGA Tour field in terms of overall success this season, and shouldn’t be available this high at any single tournament — especially not a major. Look for Scheffler to close at +750 or 8-to-1 at the most. If there are two players I want to ride with for the U.S. Open, it’s Scheffler and Cantlay so let’s lock them in now.
Weekend betting column year to date: 48-58-1, $2,538
Weekend betting column all-time: 527-554-6, $21,037.95
Previous pending future wagers: Vegas Golden Knights at 15-to-1 to win the 2023 Stanley Cup ($200 to win $3,000); 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); Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); 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); Manchester City to win English Premier League at +125 ($200 to win $250); New Orleans Breakers to win USFL title at 7-to-1 ($200 to win $1,400); Boston Celtics to win the Eastern Conference at -160 ($480 to win $300); LSU to win the College Football Playoff at 20-to-1 ($150 to win $3,000); Philadelphia Eagles to win Super Bowl 58 at 9-to-1 ($300 to win $2,700); Toronto Maple Leafs adjusted series price vs. Florida Panthers +250 ($100 to win $250); Alex Palou to win Indianapolis 500 at 11-to-1 ($100 to win $1,100); Jayson Tatum to win NBA Finals MVP at +240 ($200 to win $480); Nolan Smith to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year at 20-to-1 ($100 to win $2,000); Kansas to win 2024 NCAA Tournament at 14-to-1 ($200 to win $2,800); Los Angeles Chargers -2.5 vs. Miami Dolphins in Week 1 ($330 to win $300); Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 at Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 ($220 to win $200); Baltimore Ravens -9 vs. Houston Texans in Week 1 ($330 to win $300); Iga Swiatek to win the French Open at Even money ($300 to win $300)