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The Sports Fanatics

Weekend wagers: Eight bets to place on eight different sports

UFC 285

Wade Vandervort

Jon Jones celebrates after defeating Ciryl Gane via submission in a heavyweight title bout during UFC 285 at T-Mobile Arena Saturday, Mar. 4, 2023.

Cody Garbrandt’s nickname is “No Love” but no moniker could be further from the truth in this space after UFC 285.

Garbrandt changed the column’s fortunes last weekend at T-Mobile Arena by eking out an uneventful unanimous-decision victory over Trevin Jones just as predicted. That meant a 5-to-1 payout and started a late heater that turned into an $695 overall profit for Talking Points between the weekend wagers column and the UFC 285 betting piece.

Another good week and the column will be in the black for the still-new, post-football year ahead of the ever-important NCAA Tournament. Basketball will be the focal point next week, but for now, let’s stick with variety and traverse the whole betting board for another weekend.

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.

College basketball (0-2, -$495): Purdue -6.5 vs. Ohio State (Circa Sports)

$330 to win $300

No. 13 seed Ohio State is on a great run through the Big Ten Tournament with three wins in three days so far. But it comes to an end this morning. The heavy workload is beginning to take its toll as the Buckeyes’ best player, star freshman Brice Sensabaugh, was out for Friday’s game against Michigan State. Ohio State still prevailed 68-58 as closing 6-point underdogs but Purdue offers a much larger challenge — literally. Without Sensabaugh and Zed Key, who’s been out for nearly a month, the Buckeyes stand no chance inside against National Player of the Year lock Zach Edey for the Boilermakers. Purdue isn’t playing its best — having not covered in four straight games and six of seven — but only making it a half-point larger favorite than Michigan State against Ohio State is a big overreaction.  

XFL (1-2, -$130): Seattle Sea Dragons -4 vs. San Antonio Brahmas (Circa Sports)

$220 to win $200

For XFL standards, Seattle has an all-world offense. San Antonio has no offense. The reasoning for this bet really is that simple. The Brahmas are decent defensively, but Sea Dragons offensive coordinator June Jones is syncing with quarterback Ben DiNucci and finding out the right way to scheme open looks with him. Seattle is going to get its points. This line opened as low as -3. If it would have stayed there, I would have been in the awkward position of having one of the biggest bets of the year so far on the XFL. Seattle -4 remains an edge, but not quite as large of one.  

NBA (1-1, -$20): Charlotte Hornets +3.5 vs. Utah Jazz (Boyd Sports)

$165 to win $150

The overnight NBA board is a bit barren because of injury concerns, but the bottom of the league might provide some value. Utah is still being propped up in the market by a hot start to the season, as well as a surprising two-game covering streak, but it shouldn’t be. Having bled some depth during the trade deadline, the Jazz are now one of the worst teams in the NBA. They might still be a little better than the Hornets without the injured LaMelo Ball, but there’s not enough of a gap to merit a 3.5-point spread on the road. Utah should be a 1.5-point favorite, leaving plenty of room for a bet on Charlotte.  

NHL (0-2, -$320): Carolina Hurricanes -180 vs. Vegas Golden Knights (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

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Vegas Golden Knights and Carolina Hurricanes fight during the second period Wednesday, March 1, 2023, in Las Vegas.

$360 to win $200

The Golden Knights are ravaged with injuries and not playing as well as their stretch of four wins in five games indicates. It should all catch up to them this evening in Raleigh, N.C. The Hurricanes have been the clear second best team in the NHL, behind the Bruins, and have way too much firepower compared to the Golden Knights in their current state. If Jonathan Quick is forced to start his second straight game in net for the injured Adin Hill, then the Golden Knights are really in trouble. This line should be closer to -200.

UFC (5-3, $1,000): Alexander Romanov -150 vs. Alexander Volkov at UFC Las Vegas (STN Sports)

$300 to win $200

As witnessed at UFC 285 for seemingly the five-millionth time, a wrestling background is the most lethal base at the highest level of mixed martial arts. Ciryl Gane had no answer for Jon Jones’ ability to control him in their heavyweight bout. History should repeat in another heavyweight matchup tonight in the UFC’s first foray out of its own Apex facility for a smaller televised card in Las Vegas in years. The Theater at Virgin Hotels is the site where Romanov, a lifelong wrestler from Moldova, should be able to overpower Volkov. Romanov is coming off the first loss of his UFC career, a majority decision defeat to Marcin Tybura, to deflate this price. It would have been around -200 less than a year ago, and still should be in that range.   

NASCAR (2-0, $400): Aric Almirola -105 head-to-head vs. Bubba Wallace in United Rentals 500 (Caesars/William Hill)

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Aric Almirola is shown in the pit area during qualifying for the Boyd Gaming 300, a NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Las Vegas.

$210 to win $200

Apologies to Wallace, who’s been featured in this space’s NASCAR bet for three straight weeks. But it’s really the sports books’ faults for not correctly pricing him — once undervaluing him and now twice overvaluing him. Wallace doesn’t look like much of a threat at Phoenix Raceway this weekend. His best performances haven’t traditionally on short, flat tracks with low downforce packages like Phoenix will present. Almirola, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. He should be competitive here, and probably about a -130 favorite in a matchup with Wallace.

Tennis (0-0, $0): Carlos Alcaraz to win Indian Wells Masters at 6-to-1 (Caesars/William Hill)

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Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, reacts after scoring a point against Frances Tiafoe, of the United States, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, in New York.

$100 to win $600

Alcaraz’s odds have drifted as a result of him pulling out of a planned exhibition match last weekend at MGM Grand. But the cancelation seemed more precautionary than anything. He wanted to be at his best for tennis’ unofficial fifth major in California’s Coachella Valley, and it’s worth a leap of faith to believe he will be as he opens the tournament this morning against Thanasi Kokkinaskis. He’s the class of the field with Novak Djokovic ineligible to compete, and should be the favorite or at least co-favorite with Daniil Medvedev. I can’t purport to be much of a tennis bettor historically, but I’m trying something new here. It’s always preferable to have as many different sports as possible covered in the column.  

Golf (0-2, -$400): Scottie Scheffler to win the Masters at 13-to-1 (Boyd Sports)

$200 to win $2,600

Scheffler is in great position to win this weekend’s Players Championship in Northern Florida, but there’s no value in taking him at his current price of around +225. The best way to bet on the 26-year-old who’s currently battling Jon Rahm for the rights to be ranked as the No. 1 player in the world is by looking ahead. Next month, Scheffler has a real chance to become the first player in 21 years, since Tiger Woods, to win the Masters in back-to-back years. Augusta National is a terrific fit for his game, which seems to be peaking at the moment. Both Scheffler and Rahm should be no higher than 10-to-1 at the Masters as clear favorites in golf’s most prestigious event. In a perfect world, Scheffler wins this weekend and his odds immediately shoot down in the Masters’ market.

Weekend betting column year to date: 9-13, -$305

Weekend betting column all-time: 498-510-5, $17,821.95

Previous pending future wagers: Vegas Golden Knights at 15-to-1 to win the 2023 Stanley Cup ($200 to win $3,000); Giannis Antetokounmpo to win NBA MVP at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Minnesota Timberwolves to win Northwest Division at +150 ($200 to win $300); Minnesota Timberwolves to win Western Conference at 15-to-1 ($100 to win $1,500); Minnesota Timberwolves to win NBA Finals at 33-to-1 ($75 to win $2,475); New Orleans Pelicans to win Southwest Division at +350 ($200 to win $700); New Orleans Pelicans to win Western Conference at 24-to-1 ($50 to win $1,200); New Orleans Pelicans to win NBA Finals at 55-to-1 ($50 to win $2,750); Golden State Warriors under 53 wins ($220 to win $200); Los Angeles Clippers under 52.5 wins ($220 to win $200); Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Chicago Blackhawks to have lowest regular season point total at 6-to-1 ($200 to win $1,200); Luka Doncic to win NBA MVP at 4-to-1 ($450 to win $1,800); Boston Celtics to win Atlantic Division at -220 ($660 to win $300); Texas to win the College Football Playoff at 30-to-1 ($100 to win $3,000); Tanner Mordecai to win the Heisman Trophy at 200-to-1 ($30 to win $6,000); Atlanta Braves at 5-to-1 to win the National League ($300 to win $1,500; Atlanta Braves at 10-to-1 to win the World Series ($300 to win $3,000); Buffalo Bills at 9-to-1 to win Super Bowl 58 ($300 to win $2,700)

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