Can No. 25 Alabama hold on to fifth place in the SEC? Plus, other best bets for Wednesday
The Arizona Cardinals announced contract extensions for general manager Steve Keim and coach Kliff Kingsbury earlier today. The timing of the moves was interesting, given all the drama with quarterback Kyler Murray and his desire to extend his contract. Many believe a Murray extension could soon follow, considering Murray and Kingsbury share an agent.
It might matter, but it shouldn’t. The Cardinals have nothing to gain from a business and team-building standpoint by giving Kyler the deal he wants now. Murray’s performance or the team’s belief in his abilities are irrelevant to the discussion. The only relevant information the Cardinals need is that there’s nothing more valuable in the NFL than a QB on a rookie contract, especially when that QB is The Guy for your franchise.
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Quarterbacks are expensive! There’s a good chance Mitch Trubisky will sign a contract to be someone who starts QB this offseason, and he’ll be paid more than Kyler Murray in 2022. That’s ridiculous from a production standpoint, but it’s market, and that’s why Arizona would be foolish to give Murray a new contract now. If they want to do it next offseason to reduce injury risk and Murray comes to the open market after 2023 (assuming they pick his fifth-year option, which, I mean, duh), very good. But not right now.
What they should do now is read these stories.
Now, if Kyler Murray needs more money, maybe I can help him earn some with these picks.
All Eastern times and odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The hot ticket
🏀 Texas A&M at No. 25 Alabama, 7 p.m. | Television: SEC Network
- The choice: Less than 151.5 (-110)
- Key trend: Under is 8-1 in Alabama’s last nine games against teams with a winning record.
Late November and March are my favorite times of the college basketball season for one simple reason: afternoon basketball. Conference tournaments have started, which means I’m watching good student-athletes compete on the field as I write this, and if I’m given the option to have music or sports back -plan while writing, I choose sport every time.
Of course, while some conferences have entered their playoffs, others are still finishing the regular season. That includes the SEC, where Alabama hopes to finish in the top four and get the extra bye. However, they still need a win to hold the Florida, South Carolina, LSU and Mississippi State glut behind them. Tonight’s game is Senior Night and the most winnable of the two remaining games on Tide’s schedule – but I’m not interested in the spread. I’d tip the Aggies if I had to, but there’s so much more value on that total because I have it almost five points too high.
The Aggies are not a great team. They’ve won three of their last four games, but two have come against Georgia and Ole Miss. Overall, this is a team that has struggled offensively against better teams. It hasn’t struggled as much defensively and has been better at it in conference play than Alabama. Neither team is shooting far beyond the arc — they’re both under 30 percent on three in conference — but they’re decent inside the arc and formidable defensively in that area. Additionally, A&M is good at forcing turnovers, which is an area Alabama struggles with as it tries to go 100 mph all the time.
A sloppy game of basketball in this game will put the overhand in serious danger, and last I checked, it’s college basketball. There’s always a sloppy stretch just around the corner.
Here’s what SportsLine has to say about the game: The projection model also has a strong bias towards one side of the total. The only question is whether we are aligned or if things are about to get awkward.
🏀 College Basketball
Notre Dame at Florida State, 7 p.m. | Television: ESPN2
The choice: State of Florida +3 (-110) — I’m good friends with the only Notre Dame graduate in history who cares more about the basketball team than the football team, and he assures me there’s no way let the Irish be favored on the road against anyone. Now, since he’s a friend of mine, there’s no reason to trust his judgment, so his opinion has no impact on this piece, but I admit it was nice to hear the comfort.
Because Notre Dame is second in the ACC, and it’s not a good basketball team. The Irish may be 21-8 this season, but they are only 2-6 against teams ranked in the top 50 by KenPom. If you prefer NCAA NET rankings, the Irish are also 2-6 against Quad 1 opponents. In other words, they took advantage of the ACC being bad this season.
Now, Florida State is not a Quad 1 opponent. The Seminoles are one of the main reasons the ACC is down this season because they haven’t lived up to their own standards. However, in this game, at home, their length should cause enough problems for the Irish to allow them to cover the gap at least.
Key trend: Notre Dame is 2-6 ATS in its last eight as a road favorite.
Blazers at Suns, 10 p.m. | Television: ESPN
Portland Trail Blazers +11
Choice: Blazers +13 (-110) — It might shock you, but the Suns aren’t as good without Chris Paul as they are with him. I know – it’s a heartbreaking thing. With Paul, Phoenix is a team capable of winning an NBA title. Without Paul, it’s just good enough. During the season, Phoenix ranks third in the NBA in offensive rating at 113.6 and first in net rating at 7.8. In three games without Chris Paul, the team’s offensive rating has increased to 115.6 (10th), but its defensive rating has climbed to 114.1 (20th) for an overall net rating of 1.5 (15th).
Well, the spread for tonight’s game takes into account Phoenix’s entire season, not the last three games. And it should. A sample of three games doesn’t tell us as much as 60+ games, but it’s still a place we can mine. The Blazers haven’t been good since the NBA trade deadline, but they haven’t been terrible either. The market didn’t pay much attention to this, which led to the spread being too wide by a few points. I don’t expect this line to be left here as a whistleblower, but if you can still get Portland better than +11, take it.
Key trend: The Suns are 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The SportsLine projection model’s favorite NBA game of the day is on the gap between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings.
⛳ Arnold Palmer Invitational Top 10
We are betting on each of the following golfers to finish in the top 10 this weekend.
- Talor Gooch (+500)
- Corey Conners (+550)
- Cameron Tringale (+600)
- List of Luke (+600)
- Russell Henley (+600)