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!
Sorry, friends. I was off last week, spending our wondrous winnings and living large in Mexico (you can get like a year’s worth of cab rides for $107.02). Let$ make $ome ca$h tonight, guy$.
College Basketball WCC Championship: St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga (-6) (9:00 p.m., ESPN)
Gonzaga probably isn’t the best team in the country, but they’re close and they’re currently ranked No. 1 in the Let’s Move Everyone Up That Didn’t Lose Rankings. St. Mary’s would likely be ranked if Vegas made the rankings, but they do not, so they are not. This is clearly the highest-quality basketball game on tonight, but it won’t necessary be the closest. “Experts” probably think Gonzaga will roll, and Vegas implies a 75% chance of victory, so they’re not being as dumb as usual.
This game is on a neutral court. Gonzaga beat St. Mary’s by five, at home, but lost to them by 17, on the road.
The Bulldogs are better, period. St. Mary’s plays mediocre defense, but they can keep up with Gonzaga’s elite offense. Gonzaga plays good defense, but they’ll need it. These are two of the best shooting teams in college basketball. Gonzaga shoots better from 2. St. Mary’s has only two significant advantages — they limit offensive rebounds (fourth nationally in opponent offensive rebounding percentage). Gonzaga is great at offensive rebounding, so this will be important. The Gaels also shoot better at the free-throw line. That’s nice.
There is one more thing. St. Mary’s is slightly better at shooting 3-pointers, and they rely much more on them than Gonzaga. St. Mary’s isn’t three-crazy, but they shoot a lot of threes. Their best chance would be getting hot, and that’s not too hard to imagine.
In the teams’ two meetings, the Gaels shot 74 3-pointers, making just over 25%. But those 74 3-pointers were a lot more than they typically shoot, so St. Mary’s seem to think jacking up threes is the way to beat the more talented Zags. If they improve, they’ve got a shot. There’s no reason to think they won’t improve.
This is far from a lock, but I think St. Mary’s is undervalued due to the two bad shooting performances against Gonzaga. I think there’s a sliver of value here on a slow TV day. It’s not exactly my strongest play, but you can’t watch a championship basketball game without betting, you useless degenerate, you (OK, me).
St. Mary’s +6 (-102) $5 to win $4.90 AND St. Mary’s ML +255, $0.75 to win $1.91
College Basketball MAAC Championship: Iona (-4) vs. Manhattan (9:00 p.m., ESPN2)
Iona beat Manhattan at home, by 8, and recently lost a 2OT thriller on the road where the Gaels (yes, Iona also consists of Gaels) had foul trouble and late-game choking. Iona is clearly the better team.
Iona is also a strange team, and a fun team to watch. They play at the 11th-fastest pace in Division I, yet are 20th in offensive efficiency. Fast and efficient typically don’t correlate in college basketball. They’re great on offense, and really bad on defense. Manhattan is the exact opposite, a plodding team with a bad offense and a very good defense.
Unsurprisingly, Iona won the tempo battle at home. And Manhattan won the tempo battle on the road. Iona won when it won the tempo battle. Manhattan won when it did, with a bit of late-game help from Iona and the refs.
Rhamel Brown gave the Gaels worry in both games, especially the win, but aside from that, this should be a convincing Iona win. They should be able to control the tempo to a degree, on a neutral site. They should get a lot of possessions to shoot well per usual and cover a small spread. I like this, but Iona makes you sweat.
Iona -4 (-101), $10 to win $9.90
TV: Rules of Engagement (8:30 p.m., CBS)
Jeff thinks Audrey is trying to turn their unborn baby against him; Russell plagiarizes a real-estate article that Timmy wrote.
Inexplicable audience is inexplicably surprised by Patrick Warburton and David Spade doing dramatically deplorable things (+370), $20 to win $54
NHL: Bruins/Senators UNDER 5 (+113), $30 to win $33.90
Record in games actually worth risking money on: 57-42 (+$107.02)
What else is on: College Basketball: James Madison vs. Northeastern (7:00 p.m., NBCSN), College of Charleston vs. Davidson (7:00 p.m., ESPN2)
Lines taken from 5dimes.eu (with reduced juice) and betonline.ag