It dawns on me that, as you receive this in your inbox today, you're probably watching the Ravens and Steelers playing football on a Wednesday afternoon. That's weird, isn't it? It's definitely weird.
What isn't weird? LeBron James is getting paid a lot of money. That's been the case for a while because when you're one of the greatest basketball players of all time, you're going to get paid. On Wednesday, LeBron got paid again, signing a two-year extension with the Lakers for $85 million. Which, I guess means LeBron is still planning on playing for at least another two seasons.
As our Michael Kaskey-Blomain points out, this latest contract will expire during the same season in which LeBron's son, Bronny, graduates from high school. LeBron has said in the past that one of his greatest dreams would be to play in the NBA with his son. Still, considering James will be starting his 18th season next month, I thought he'd take a one-year-at-a-time approach to things and leave the door open to retirement. Maybe that championship high has him feeling young and ready to conquer the world again.
As for the rest of the Lakers, it's only a matter of time until the team announces a new deal with Anthony Davis, which will also be huge and take up a huge chunk of cap space. So if you're a veteran looking to chase a ring in the near future, and you're willing to play on a minimum deal, I know a team that's going to be in the market for affordable veterans the next few years!
Elsewhere in today's news:
- Might we see packed stadiums by the time the 2021 NFL season begins?
- Evander Holyfield is willing to be paid to fight Mike Tyson for a third time.
- The biggest non-tender decision for every MLB team.
- Tyrod Taylor doesn't plan to file a grievance following his lung injury.
Let's hit the hardwood.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 11 West Virginia, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: West Virginia +8.5 (-110): I enjoy Gonzaga basketball ... both watching it and betting on it. Well, mostly betting on it. Simply put, Gonzaga is a spread-covering juggernaut. Since the start of the 2015 season, Gonzaga has gone 97-75-4 ATS. They cover at a 56.4% rate, which is extremely profitable! But, even within that dominance, there are a couple of areas in which you notice they are more likely to struggle.
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Against ranked opponents, they've gone 14-12-2 ATS since 2015. At neutral sites, they're 24-24-2. Well, tonight, they're facing a ranked team at a neutral site, and I believe this is one of those times the Zags will fail to cover the spread. This line opened with Gonzaga as a 7-point favorite, and it's moved to 8.5. There's a good chance the line will be even larger by the time the game tips off, so keep an eye on that, but if you can still get the Mountaineers at 8.5, do it.
The Mountaineers are one of the best defensive teams in the country, but they're also incredibly efficient on offense. In fact, they're a lot like Gonzaga, but they aren't as popular with the general public. They also have enough size to handle Drew Timme and the rest of Gonzaga's size. This will be a close struggle, and it's one I think the Mountaineers could hang in, if not pull off the upset.
Key Trend: Gonzaga is 2-5 ATS in its last seven neutral site games.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has a few strong leans for this matchup tonight. Does it agree with me? Well, there's only one way to find out.
💰 The Picks
🏀 College Basketball
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 5 Illinois, 10 p.m | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 143 (-110) -- The second leg of the Jimmy V Classic in Indianapolis is another matchup of top teams. Baylor is 2-0 with emphatic wins over Louisiana and Washington. Illinois is 3-0 with a pair of mollywhoppings against North Carolina A&T and Chicago State, followed by a close call against Ohio. It should be noted that the 77-75 win over Ohio was the Illini's third game in three days, and that likely played a role in the outcome.
Those weak schedules make it difficult to know just what these teams are, and while their shooting numbers are through the roof, I don't expect either team to perform as well tonight. Illinois is shooting 46.9% from three, which just isn't sustainable for a team that has no genuinely elite shooters. This is reflected in the team's 69.4% rate at the free-throw line. Baylor's even worse, shooting 50% at the charity stripe. So, with two teams who probably aren't as good shooting as early-season numbers indicate playing in an unfamiliar site, I'm thinking the under is a fair play.
Key Trend: The under is 13-6 in Illinois' last 19 neutral site games.
Tennessee Tech at Xavier, 7 p.m | TV: FS1
The Pick: Over 140.5 (-110) -- This is simply one of those spots where I feel the total is too low. I don't hate laying the 22.5 points with Xavier if you're more into that, but my concern with the Musketeers is that defensively, they aren't great. While Tennessee Tech isn't a great offensive team, it has a size advantage on the Musketeers, which should help it in that area. On the other side, I don't see Xavier having a lot of trouble getting points against this Tech defense. They don't force turnovers, and while they have size, they're not an elite shot-blocking team.
Key Trend: The over is 6-1 in Xavier's last seven games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine's Mike McLure is sharing his top plays for this weekend's Mayakoba Golf Classic. Mike's model has picks for the tournament winner, as well as top five, top 10 and top 20 plays.
⚽ Europa League Parlay
A four-leg parlay for Thursday that pays +341
- Royal Antwerp -225 (Parlay +341)
- Villarreal -175
- Tottenham -143
- Real Sociedad -700