Welcome to SportsGrid’s new, daily feature, where we tell you what sports are on TV tonight. Then, I do my best to help you win some money while watching. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing, and gambling is legal in your jurisdiction. Feel free to tweet hateful things at me if my advice moves you to do so. TV games are often the toughest games to find an edge on, so don’t go crazy, people. If I do recommend a bet, I’ll keep track of it, so you can tell me how awful (or wonderful?) I am. For record-keeping, we’ll assume a standard bet is $10. Occasionally, there will be 2x or 3x bets, maybe 4 or 5 if I’m feeling spunky. Good luck, America!
College Basketball: Illinois at Michigan State (-8.5) (7:00 p.m., ESPN)
Illinois started the year 12-0, including wins over Butler and Gonzaga, but they’ve struggled in the Big 10. They’re 2-5 in conference play, including a loss to Northwestern at home, which is like losing to your six-year old brother in arm wrestling, with you using two hands. They’re desperate.
Michigan State is playing well, and deserves to be a heavy favorite. And they’ll be fired up, coming off a tough loss. That Tom Izzo can sure coach ‘em up!
If there’s an edge here, it’s that Illinois hasn’t played up to its considerable talent level. And the Spartans may be a bit overvalued because of a home win over OSU and a (very ugly) win over Wisconsin on the road. Michigan State is better, but you might be getting some value here due to recent play impacting perception.
This is far from a lock, but you only need to win 52.4% of your bets to break even. I think there’s enough value for a play here. You could’ve had this at 9 or 9.5 is you timed it right, but hey, it’s my column, my fault.
Illinois +8.5, $10 to win $9.09
NHL: Pittsburgh (+105) at New York Rangers (-115) (9:00 p.m., NHL Network)
These two teams entered the season as co-favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and both teams have disappointed. The Rangers have been mediocre. The Penguins have actually been below average, though they did beat the Rangers in their first meeting.
Backup Tomas Vokoun is starting for the Pens, but he isn’t really a downgrade.
The key here: Pittsburgh has played awful against bad teams (and lost) but really well against good teams (and won). They’ve looked unmotivated against bad teams, but they should wake up in Madison Square Garden. They match up well with the Rangers, and barring a vintage Henrik Lundqvist performance or a subpar Vokoun one, they have a decent edge here. You won’t get the Penguins as an underdog often this year, assuming they turn things around. So, pounce while their value is low. This is a 3x bet.
Pittsburgh ML +105, $30 to win 31.50
College Basketball: Connecticut (-1) at Providence (7:00 p.m., ESPN2)
Providence isn’t particularly good at anything, sans offensive rebounding. And guess who’s abysmal at preventing it: Connecticut! Also, Providence is 5-2 ATS at home, while UConn is 3-4 on the road. But does this mean anything? The Friars haven’t proven much on the court, while the Huskies have beaten Michigan State and Notre Dame. They’re the better team — the only worry is Providence getting second-chance points.
Road favorites are tough to bet on, but UConn is worth a play at -1.
Connecticut -1, $10 to win $9.09
College Basketball: Arizona (-5) at Washington (9:00 p.m., ESPN)
Disregarding the situation, Arizona would be a bigger favorite than 5 points. But Washington is coming off a three-game losing streak, and will be heavily motivated against a marquee opponent, at home. But Arizona is miles better on both ends of the court and just a game up on Washington in the conference standings. This looks like an overadjustment, as books are becoming more and more sensitive to situational bettors.
Again, always be wary of road favorites, especially highly-ranked teams, but we’re actually getting some good value with Arizona here.
Arizona -5, $10 to win $9.09
College Basketball: Arkansas at Alabama (-6.5) (9:00 p.m., ESPN2)
Arkansas has been hideous when playing anyone half-decent, except for a close win while hosting Oklahoma. The Razorbacks force a ton of turnovers with the whole Mike Anderson “fastest 40 minutes in basketball” thing, but their defense is pretty awful otherwise. Fast and sexy, but ineffective! There’s a joke in there for you to make. Alabama turns it over a bunch, so they might have a chance, but you don’t want to bet on a team this bad. Especially if you’re watching on TV. By the end of the game, you’d have drunk $10 extra in alcohol, evaporating your winnings, anyway.
If you must bet, this line might be a bit high, an overreaction of Alabama’s motivation following a one-point loss to Tennessee. So, go with Arkansas. But I don’t think it’s worth a play, and I’d watch with my eyes closed, opening only to sip on your drink of choice.
Lean Arkansas +6.5, but no bet
NBA: Memphis at Oklahoma City (-10) (8:00 p.m., TNT)
This line has climbed two points from the opener of -8, and now it’s tough to back OKC. The Rudy Gay trade is the big variable here. Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye won’t be playing, so Memphis will be shorthanded.
You missed your shot to get the Thunder, so you’re best off staying away unless you know something I don’t (which many, many people do).
NBA: Dallas at Golden State (-3) (10:30 p.m., TNT)
Steph Curry is doubtful, hence the better team being only short favorites at home. It’s tough to back the worse team here, getting just 3.5 points on the road.
Do you have the balls to back the Warriors without Curry? I don’t. (But my balls could be tiny; you’ve never seen them!)
Lean Golden State -3, no bet
Bonus Bet! NHL: New York Islanders (+124) at New Jersey Devils (-137) (not on national TV)
Overreaction to Islanders recent success; Devils underrated. 4x bets are rare. Here you go!
Devils (-137) $40 to win 29.20
What else is on: Bellator MMA (10:00 p.m., SPIKE),
Record in games actually worth risking money on: 0-0 (perfect!)
Lines taken from 5dimes.eu and betonline.ag