2016-17 NBA MVP Odds

It seems like just yesterday that Kyrie Irving hit a dagger three to give Cleveland its first championship in franchise history. A lot has changed in the offseason but the favorites to win the MVP this year remain mostly the same. Let’s look at the main contenders (odds via Boyds Bets).

Russell Westbrook (+200): Westbrook is the favorite for two main reasons. First, he is really, really good. Last season he averaged 23.5 PPG 10.4 APG and 7.8 RPG while notching 18 triple-doubles. He might have the best chance of averaging a triple-double for the first time since Oscar Robertson did it in 1961-62. Second, Kevin Durant is gone. If he put up those numbers as the #2 option, what can he do as “the man?”

Stephen Curry (+400): Curry is the defending back-to-back MVP so you have to put him high on this list. However, I wouldn’t lay my money on him. Yes, he was the first unanimous MVP last season and might be the greatest shooter ever, but did you see him in the finals? Often he was the third or fourth best player on the floor. Also, his numbers will take a hit with having to share the ball with Durant.

LeBron James (+500): James proved he is still the best player in the NBA in the playoffs. He was the first player ever to lead BOTH teams in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks in the Finals. However, he will turn 32 this season and has logged so many minutes in his career (199 playoff games). I expect him to get more rest days this season and share more of the load with Irving, but don’t count out the greatest all-around player in NBA history.

Kevin Durant (+1200): KD has the same problem as Curry. Tons of game but only one basketball to around in Golden State. His numbers will dip and even last year he finished a distant fifth in the voting.

Anthony Davis (+1600): Davis was banged up last year and didn’t play up to his previous season. It is a bit troubling to see a young player regress in his fourth season but most think he will bounce back. Even still, the NBA isn’t a big man’s game anymore and I’d be shocked to see him win MVP.

Kawhi Leonard (+1600): This is the smart money right here. Last season Leonard put up 21.2/6.8/2.6, all career-highs. However, those numbers don’t even tell the story. His best attribute is his defense. He is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, including last season. He was second in the MVP vote. With Tim Duncan gone, he is now the face of the franchise. Expect a big year from “The Claw.”

James Harden (+1600): Harden can flat out fill it up on the offensive end. His numbers were actually up from two years ago when he finished second in the MVP race, but last season was out of the top five. The reason is he is a flat out liability on defense and his team wasn’t very good. Fair or not, voters factor team play in. If the Rockets are good, he will be in the mix again. If not, look for big numbers with no MVP.

Paul George (+2200): Not only did George come back from a major injury last year, he was even better than when he left. Still just 26, he can even improve on last season. His MVP candidacy rests largely with his teammates, much like Harden. If the Pacers finish #7 in the East again, he won’t collect many votes.

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How to Bet On Football

The leaves are changing colors, the air is getting colder, and Halloween is right around the corner. That can only mean one thing: We are right in the middle of the best time of year to bet on football.

Between college football and the NFL, there’s at least one game to watch and gamble on almost every night, and with the advent of sports betting sites on the internet, it’s never been easier to place a bet.

But if you’ve never placed a bet on football before, you might be wondering what all this jargon means: What’s the difference between a point spread and a money line? How exactly does an over/under bet work? We’ll start with the basics and then break down each type of bet so you can make educated wagers this season, and hopefully earn some money while you enjoy the games.

Point Spreads

The most common format for sports betting and the one most commonly referred to amongst casual fans is when you bet “against the spread.” In each football game, there’s a Favorite (the team that’s supposed to win), and an Underdog (the team that’s supposed to lose). The point spread, sometimes called a betting “line”, is a way to balance the odds. For example, let’s say the Cowboys are favorites in a game against the Eagles, and the point spread is 4. If the Cowboys win by more than 4 points, those who wagered on the Cowboys win their bets. If the Cowboys lose, or if they win by fewer than 4 points, those who wagered on the Eagles win their bets. If the Cowboy win by exactly 4 points, all bets would result in a “push,” in which case the bet is refunded. To avoid push scenarios, the spread may often include a half point, such as 4.5, so there is guaranteed to be a winner and a loser.

The point spread is set by the sportsbook that is accepting bets, colloquially referred to as “Vegas,” and the line is determined by a confluence of factors: past performance, the teams’ current records, which team has home field advantage, public perception, and so on. When looking at betting odds, the favorite will be denoted by a negative number. Using the previous Cowboys-Eagles example, the Cowboys would be -4, and the Eagles +4. Another way to think of a bet on the Cowboys would be the Cowboys score “minus 4” points.

Money Lines

Betting against the spread is difficult because the odds makers are very skilled at setting the spread. However, there are other ways to bet without using the point spread. A money line wager is one that is placed on a team to win regardless of the score, with the odds affecting the potential payout. Let’s look at another example:

Seattle Seahawks -500
Arizona Cardinals +350

To win $100 dollars wagering on the favorite Seattle Seahawks (again denoted by the negative number -500), one must wager $500 upfront—a big risk because the Seahawks are a heavy favorite. On the other hand, a $100 bet on the Arizona Cardinals would yield a profit of $350 if successful. Placing a money line wager on a favorite is high-risk, low-reward, whereas placing a money line wager on an underdog can be the opposite, and thus more rewarding.

Over/Under Wagers

If picking a winner isn’t your thing, you might want to consider betting on total points, or “totals.” In an Over/Under wager, the bettor is gambling on whether the total points scored in a game by both teams will be greater than or less than a pre-determined number. Again, Vegas typically uses half-points in these totals to avoid wagers being “pushes.” If the O/U line of a game is 44.5 points, and the final score is 24-14, any “Under” wagers will be winners, as the points total will be just 38 points—fewer than 44.5.

Like point spreads, over/under totals can be swayed by public opinion. Vegas’ intent is to encourage as much betting as possible, regardless of who the odds-setters believe will win the game. Thus, you may be able to “shop around” for more favorable lines or odds in different sports books as they adjust their lines throughout the week.

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NCAA Tournament Preview

The NCAA tournament is set to begin and I couldn’t be more excited.  Look, this is the time of the year where everyone comes out of the woodwork to place bets.  It doesn’t matter if they know anything about college basketball.  It doesn’t matter if they watched any of the first 30 games of the season.  All that matters is that this is the biggest sporting event of the year and they want to get in on the action.

Bracket pools are the first way that’s done.  Even Warren Buffett was involved a couple of years ago when he partnered with Quicken Loans to offer a $1 billion prize for anyone who was lucky enough to fill out a perfect bracket.

If you work in an office you are likely going to be in your own office pool.  What’s the trick to winning?  Not taking the same team to win that everyone else is.  This year Kansas and Michigan State are the two teams everyone is on.  What about Virginia or Villanova?  Those are two teams that are very good yet only a small percentage of people will be on them.  If one of those teams do win, you won’t have to stress about every other game the first couple of weekends.  If you pick them and they win, you likely take home the pool.

What about futures bets?  I think the same applies here.  Most of the action Vegas books are going to take will be on the favorites.  If you take a team that is less likely to win they might have better odds than they should.  Virginia and Villanova are both getting 12 to 18-to-1.  I think that’s excellent value and will be putting a small coin down on each.

How about the individual games?  That is where the fun is.  There is non-stop action all day Thursday-Sunday, but my word of warning is don’t get sucked into needing to have action on every single game.  I know it’s exciting to have four games going at once and flipping back and forth between every single game.

Here’s the thing though, every game won’t show value.  I think you’ll typically find 2-3 games per day on the schedule that are worth a bet.  Which ones will those be?  It’s tough to tell if you don’t get into the matchups.  I like looking at matchups.  What teams have a goofy style.  Syracuse always comes to mind.  They have a 2-3 zone that is very unique.  If a team hasn’t seen it before, they are going to struggle.

How do teams do against pressure?  If they are playing a team that likes to pick their opponents up full court, that’s especially important.  Does a team not take care of the ball go up against a team that turns their opponents over?  Does a team allow outside shots against a good three-point shooting team?  Those are what you have to look at.  Don’t fall into the trap of seeing a small school going against a big school and thinking Cinderella doesn’t have a chance.

Whoever you end up taking and however you join in on the action, have fun and make some money this March!

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Super Bowl Action

The Super Bowl is a massive sporting event.  I know that March Madness is big in the United States, but it lasts several weeks and there are 63 games that go into it.  The Super Bowl is one game, but it’s by far the biggest.  If you don’t know how to bet on football, we have the guide for you.

This year Carolina is the favorite over the Denver Broncos.  It seems like the popular choice is the Panthers.  They have looked extremely well in the playoffs with wins over Seattle and Arizona.  Games that were never even that close.

Denver on the other hand has a lot of question marks.  Peyton Manning has struggled.  The defense has carried them.

I just don’t see that changing for this one.  I think you’ll have to keep a strong eye on the total.  I think points are at a premium here today and it’s going to be tough for either team to put enough points on the board for this game to go over the total.

I also think that means I’ll take the points.  This is Manning’s last game.  If you need any extra motivation for the Super Bowl then you shouldn’t even be playing, but this might be a special situation.  It reminds me of the Pittsburgh Steelers a few years ago sending off Jerome Bettis with a ring.

If you don’t necessarily agree then I would recommend you take a look at a few of the props that are defensively related.  Von Miller to win the MVP is paying out at a nice price.  If Denver wins, and they win because of their defense I think the pressure he puts on Newton will be a big reason why.

I think you have to look at the yardage totals going under.  Cam Newton passing yardage and Peyton Manning passing yards are the two I really like.  I can also see there being a large number of sacks.  Manning doesn’t have a lot of mobility.  Newton hasn’t seen pressure like Denver can bring.  Just look at what happened with the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.  He was constantly being tossed to the ground.  How will Cam react to that kind of heat?  I think he’ll struggle.

So, if you decide to go with me on the Broncos and the under then good luck on the big game!  If you go the other way then I hope to watch you ripping up your losing tickets!

Either way, it should be a good game and once again the greatest show on Earth.


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