Happy Thursday! Wait, it's Thursday already? Is this week flying by as quickly for you as it is for me? I mean, in the interest of full disclosure, I originally wrote "Happy Wednesday" when writing this and was a good 75 words or so in before I realized it was Thursday.
So, yeah, that's where my mind is at these days. I think it's the lack of football that has messed my brain up considerably. We had such a set schedule of days when games were being played the last few months. Obviously, we had Saturdays and Sundays full of games, but there were Mondays, Thursdays, and Friday nights too. For the most part, the only nights of the week without football games were Tuesday and Wednesday, and even those days had a couple of games of their own!
Still, if there wasn't a game that night, you could safely assume it was either a Tuesday or a Wednesday, and I think that's what happened to me today, which is Thursday. I'm pretty sure. If it's not, hopefully, my editor will change all Thursday references to the proper day. While he does that, you should catch up on today's news. Whichever specific day it happens to be.
- Former Washington QB Dwayne Haskins has found a new home with the Steelers.
- It is starting to look like somebody will give J.T. Realmuto a lot of money.
- Nearly a quarter of college basketball coaches polled don't want a conference tournament this year.
- Tennessee has found its new athletic director.
To the picks!
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Lakers at Bucks, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Lakers +2 (-110): Most of the time, my picks are based on analytics and trends with the teams or players involved in a game. Other times there's more of a "gut feel" in play. While I have plenty of trends that support this pick, in truth, there's a lot more gut feel to this one than anything.
The short story is that I don't think the Bucks have "It." Giannis Antetokounmpo is a tremendous player, and I think the Bucks are one of the best teams in the NBA. But I think they're still missing something when it comes to going up against other elite teams, and that belief makes me push back against them in this spot. While LeBron James is listed as questionable for the game, it's a nationally-televised game against a possible title contender. He's going to play. So if I can get the Lakers -- who I believe to be the better team -- as underdogs in this spot in an empty stadium, I'm taking the Lakers as underdogs. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it usually goes well for Lakers backers. If you don't believe me, just read the key trend below.
Jonathan Coachman is joined by expert sports bettors Mike McClure and Larry Hartstein to dish out their best bets in the NBA and College Hoops for Thursday on The Early Edge. Download and subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Key Trend: The Lakers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games as an underdog.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has been texting me all day wanting to talk about this game, and I've had to put it on mute. So, please, go check out what it has to say so it'll have somebody else to talk to.
Lakers at Bucks, 7:30 p.m | TV: TNT
The Pick: Under 228.5 (-110) -- It's a limited slate in the NBA today, and there's not a whole lot on the college basketball docket I'm fond of, so I'm double-dipping here. We haven't had much luck with unders in this newsletter this week, but this is another spot where I find the total to be much higher than it should be. Yes, these are two of the best offenses in the NBA, but they're also two of the best defenses. The Lakers lead the league in defensive efficiency, and I think their defensive prowess is a big reason why they'll cover at a minimum tonight, so we may as well double-down with the under. Plus, these teams played in the two games last season, neither finished with more than 216 points. I don't see tonight's meeting being all that different than either of last season's.
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Key Trend: The under is 9-1 in the Lakers' last 10 road games.
The Pick: Juventus to win Serie A (+400) -- Serie A, the top league in Italy, has long been dominated by Juventus. Juve has won nine straight league titles (referred to as the scudetto) and won the SuperCoppa final against Napoli on Wednesday. As the league approaches the halfway point of the season, Juventus finds itself in sixth place, 10 points behind AC Milan at the top of the table, and seven points behind Inter (the current favorites to win the league). Juve has played one fewer game than both Milan teams, but even if we assume it wins that match, it would still be seven points behind AC Milan. This has led to many people writing off the nine-time defending champion, and I understand why. Still, at +400, with over half the season to go, and Cristiano Ronaldo still wearing a Juventus shirt, there's a lot of value here. Plus, if we look at things like expected goals and expected points based on those metrics, Juventus has gotten slightly unlucky so far. Both AC Milan and Inter have overperformed, judging by the same metrics. That means we should see the margin between these teams narrow over the second half of the season, and Juve may not only catch its Milanese rivals but pass them and win a tenth straight scudetto.
Key Trend: Juventus has won nine straight Serie A titles.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley is up more than $22,000 over the past 23 months with his UFC selections. He just revealed his picks for Saturday's UFC 257 card.
💸 The DFS Rundown
With only three games on tonight's slate I'm only listing my favorite plays at each position.
Full lineup advice
Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.