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!
NHL: Sabres (+226) at Penguins (-246) (7:30 p.m., NBCSN)
For the Penguins to be a profitable bet for you, you have to correctly estimate that the Penguins win this game more than (approximately) 72% of the time. For the Sabres, that number is around 32% (yes, that adds up to 110%, which is why, unless you have an edge, neither side is a profitable bet). You very rarely find it profitable to bet an NHL favorite at -246, since it’s such a low-scoring, high-variance sport. The Penguins might be the best team in the NHL, and they’ve won 15(!) games in a row. Clearly, you’re buying them at their apex here, and that’s almost never a good idea.
The Sabres actually get lucky here with Penguins backup Tomas Vokoun, but even though their own goalie, Ryan Miller, was a superstar not long ago, Vokoun is having a much better season than Miller. That’s certainly a product of the Penguins superior defense, but the goalie matchup isn’t the advantage to Buffalo that it may seem.
The only thing worth a look here is the under. The Penguins have been clamping down during their winning streak, and despite their high-scoring rep, 9 of their past 10 games have gone under. Both teams are banged up, and it’s hard to see the Sabres scoring much here. Their power play is putrid. The Penguins could score four and this could still go under. And you’d have to think the Sabres will play as tight as possible, praying to steal a point and get to overtime. That’s about all the hope they have.
Buffalo’s defense is too awful to make this a strong play, but it’s a decent one. The Sabres are even playing almost-sorta-mediocre recently on defense. It’s worth a play.
UNDER 5.5 (-122), $5 to win $4.10
NBA: Knicks at Heat (-1.5) (8:00 p.m., TNT)
It’s tough to look to stats to find an edge, here. This line opened at Heat -8, assuming that LeBron (and possibly Wade) were playing. If you back the Knicks, you’re essentially betting that the pair is worth more than 6.5 points. If you back the Heat, you’re betting that they’re worth more than 6.5 points. There’s no consensus on how many points a player is worth, but typically, people say the market overreacts to one player’s absence. That proved true when the Heat just beat the Spurs, on the road, without Bosh and Wade. They were 9.5 point underdogs.
I think this is an overreaction to that one game, though, and people are hesitant to back the Knicks against the Heat. The Knicks are playing well, and on paper, they’re much better than the LeBron and Wade-less Heat, right? Shouldn’t they be favored, even on the road?
I don’t bet the NBA often, so tread lightly here, but with Tyson Chandler returning, I don’t see why the Knicks should be underdogs. This game means a lot more to them than Miami. Unless they underestimate the Heat, and I don’t think they will, this seems like a great bet.
Knicks +1.5 (-107), $10 to win $9.35 AND ML (+110), $1.50 to win $1.65
MLB: Cardinals/Dodgers OVER 9 (+100), $5 to win $5
NCAAB: Baylor -3 (-102), $5 to win $4.90
NHL: Lightning ML (-147), $20 to win $13.61
Kings ML (-130) $20 to win $15.38
Record in games actually worth risking money on: 95-69 (+$108.88)
What else is on:
10:30 p.m. | TNT
Dallas at Los Angeles Lakers
Women’s NCAA Tournament, Regional Finals
7 p.m. | ESPN
Notre Dame vs. Duke
9 p.m. | ESPN
Tennessee vs. Louisville
10:30 p.m. | MLB Network
St. Louis at Arizona or San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers
8 p.m. (same-day tape) | Fox Sports Net
Barcelona at Paris Saint-Germain
Men’s NIT semifinals
7 p.m. | ESPN2
BYU vs. Baylor
9 p.m. | ESPN2
Maryland vs. Iowa
Lines taken from 5dimes.eu (with reduced juice) and betonline.ag
Photo via CBC