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Carolyn Kaster / AP

South Carolina players and coaches celebrate after the Final Four college basketball championship game against Iowa in the women’s NCAA Tournament, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Cleveland. South Carolina won 87-75.

College basketball has concluded, giving way to relaunch the Weekend Wagers column where there’s much work to be done.

It’s been a profitable year so far in the annual project but that’s entirely because of college basketball. With help from the South Carolina women winning the national championship and Purdue reaching the Final Four since the last Weekend Wagers, the column finished its college basketball run with a $2,950 profit on the season.

It’s the only sport that’s kept Weekend Wagers in the black, but now it’s off the board aside from futures a year away from settling. It’s time for something like golf (the 2022 big winner) or NASCAR (last year’s breadwinner) to pick up the weight.

Or maybe UFC, which is off to an inauspicious start in the column but has one of its biggest events ever tonight at T-Mobile Arena.

I’ll celebrate with a pair of wagers in the octagon, surrounded by one play in six other leagues. It’s good to be back.

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 (1-2, -$52): Hideki Matsuyama to be the top finishing Asian player at the Masters at 4-to-1 (Caesars/William Hill)

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Tiger Woods tees off on the 18th hole during a practice round in preparation for the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Monday, April 8, 2024, in Augusta, Ga.

Don’t jump off the Matsuyama bandwagon too soon. The 2021 Masters champion was among the most steamed players in the betting market going into this year’s first major, closing at as low as 14-to-1 to win his second green jacket. That looks like a mistake now with Matsuyama having just squeezed past the cut line at 6-over par. He’ll be the first golfer on the course at Augusta National today, but that’s a good thing. The wind should be at its lowest, and Matsuyama should have a chance to put up a low score. He didn’t play well in the first two rounds but few golfers in the field are on better form overall than Matsuyama. Chasing down Byeong Hyun An — the leader in this market at 1-under par — is a tall task but that’s why such a big payout is attached. This is a gamble and likely to lose, but it’s one worth taking as a proposition that should happen more than the 20% of the time the line implies.

Major League Baseball (0-0, $0): New York Mets -158 vs. Kansas City Royals (Boyd Sports)

$316 to win $200

Through Thursday’s games, the Royals have the best run differential in baseball (+39) and a top-five record (9-4). Do we expect this to persist? I don’t. Bobby Witt Jr. is an MVP candidate, but the rest of the lineup is overachieving. Kansas City should come back to the pack at the plate a bit, and it could start happening today against New York starting pitcher Sean Manaea. The 32-year-old has been terrific in his first two starts with the Mets, which are playing well after taking two of three off the Braves in their last series. I price this second game of the current series at New York -170, leaving room for a wager at these odds.

NHL (2-2, $0): Philadelphia Flyers -115 vs. New Jersey Devils (Caesars/William Hill)

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Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson (36) stops a shot by Philadelphia Flyers center Scott Laughton (21) during the second period of an NHL hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023.

$230 to win $200

The Devils have long since been eliminated from playoff contention. The Flyers are soon to follow, but they’re not quite there yet. That means they’re not giving up, and we should be surer to get a full effort out of them in this penultimate game of the regular season for both teams. Philadelphia is much healthier in the skaters’ ranks, and should have a big edge in net if it starts rookie Samuel Ersson against New Jersey’s Kaapo Kahkonen. The matchup is not confirmed, but it seems to be the most likely pairing, and the odds will move in Philadelphia’s favor if that’s the case.

UFL (0-0, $0): Birmingham Stallions -7 vs. Memphis Showboats (SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas)

$220 to win $200

There’s the two-time defending USFL (rest in peace, again) champion Birmingham Stallions, and then there’s rest of the spring football franchises over the last couple years. The gap between the Stallions and everyone else is larger than a touchdown, and the Showboats are even worse than average. Memphis is 1-1 in the new league merging the USFL and XFL but it has a league-worst -1.35 net yards per play. Quarterback Case Cookus has struggled and shown an inability to throw downfield, while Birmingham counterpart Matt Corral might be the best signal caller in the league. By the end of the regular season, Birmingham will be a rightful double-digit favorite in games like this.   

UFC (0-5, -$1,106): Kayla Harrison to win via stoppage vs. Holly Holm at UFC 300 at +130 (Boyd Sports)

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Ultimate Fighting Championship is now considered the gold standard for mixed martial arts competition worldwide

$200 to win $260

I’ve heard multiple people suggest that Harrison is ripe to follow in the footsteps of former roommate/Judo Olympian Ronda Rousey and get shocked by Holm. Please. Let’s remember this is 2024, not 2015. Rousey was a phenomenon a decade ago, and nothing can take away her impact, but women’s mixed martial arts has progressed significantly since then. The competitors now are much more well-rounded. Harrison’s complete arsenal is a testament. Holm is also now 43-years-old and has relied on controlling opponents and pushing them against the wall to get her most recent wins. That’s not going to work against the smothering Harrison. Holm is a Hall of Famer, but it’s Harrison’s time now.  

UFC (0-5, -$1,106): Weili Zhang vs. Xiaonan Yang under 4.5 rounds at -120 (STN Sports)

$240 to win $200

Let’s make the uncharacteristic wade into the totals market for the other women’s fight at UFC 300, the bantamweight championship scheduled for the co-main event. The champion Zhang submitting the grappling-deficient Yang is the far likeliest outcome of the fight, even though it’s not priced like it. But there’s also the chance Zhang takes Yang down and pounds her out for a TKO victory. Even Yang has a win condition that she could catch Zhang on the feet for a surprise knockout. The common link between those three scenarios? None of them involve getting to the scorecards. The under should be juiced higher here.

NASCAR (0-5, -$940): Kyle Larson to win Autotrader Echopark Automotive 400 at 5-to-1 (South Point) and Christopher Bell to win Autotrader Echopark Automotive 400 at 14-to-1 (Circa Sports)

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NASCAR Kyle Larson (5) celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday, March 3, 2024. BRIAN RAMOS

$200 to win $1,000 on Larson and $80 to win $1,120 on Bell

Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing have emerged as the best teams on intermediate tracks this year. Larson and Bell, respectively, have their fastest cars. That comes with apologies to William Byron and Denny Hamlin, respectively, as both already have multiple victories on the season. But a lot of luck goes into snagging the top spot in any given race and I don’t think the dominance of either Byron or Hamlin is bound to sustain at the same level. Larson should be a runaway favorite at Texas Motor Speedway, not only a touch above the likes of Hamlin, Byron and Tyler Reddick. Bell arguably deserves a spot among the second group. Either Larson or Bell should pick up their second victory of the season on Sunday.

College baseball (0-0, $0): Wake Forest to win the College World Series at 25-to-1 (SuperBook)

$100 to to win $2,500

Last year in this column, I bought a dip on a college baseball team everyone agreed was the most talented group in the country. LSU paid off the faith by ultimately winning the College World Series. Let’s hope history repeats this year. No team has more professional talent than the Demon Deacons this year, but it hasn’t come together all that smoothly. They’re .500 in ACC play despite coming into the year as the No. 1 ranked team in the country. A rise is coming. There aren’t any teams that can match the dynamic duo of Chase Burns at the start of the rotation and Nick Kurtz anchoring the lineup. It’s a lot like the Tigers’ Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews a year ago. Maybe the result will be the same.    

2024 Weekend betting column: 27-30, $2,218.87

Weekend betting column all-time: 685-737-11, $33,499.87

Previous pending wagers: Edmonton Oilers to win 2024 Stanley Cup Final at 12-to-1 ($250 to win $3,000); Cleveland Cavaliers to win Central division at 3-to-1 ($300 to win $900); Victor Wembanyama to win NBA Rookie of the Year at +125 ($400 to win $500); Rudy Gobert to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year at 5-to-1 ($300 to win $1,500); Oregon -1.5 -102 vs. Ohio State in Week 7 ($306 to win $300); Xander Schauffele to win the Masters ($100 to win $2,800); Los Angeles Clippers to finish with Western Conference No. 1 seed ($200 to win $520); Florida Panthers to win Stanley Cup at 10-to-1 ($250 to win $2,500); New York Yankees to win World Series ($300 to win $3,000); Christopher Bell to win NASCAR Cup championship at 12-to-1 ($200 to win $2,400); Patrick Mahomes to win 2024-2025 NFL MVP at +750 ($350 to win $2,625); Kansas City Chiefs to win Super Bowl 59 at 9-to-1 ($300 to win $2,700); New York Liberty to win WNBA Championship at +250 ($500 to win $1,250); Inter Miami to win MLS Cup at +300 ($500 to win $1,500); Tarik Skubal to win American League Cy Young at 20-to-1 ($120 to win $2,400); Cole Ragans to win American League Cy Young at 35-to-1 ($70 to win $2,450)

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

Article written by #LasVegasSun