This Week in Betting, A to Z
T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Predictions
A - Awful. The Boston Celtics have lost 14 in a row, and there really isn't anything positive that you can say about the team. They have exactly the record in the last month that they have deserved. So bad. If forced to find a bright spot, you could say that they are 9-8-1 ATS in their last 18, which is a lot better than you might guess that they would be.
B - Big acquisition. Chris Webber isn't putting up big numbers, but he has been huge for Detroit. The Pistons are 7-3 since he arrived, have covered six of 10, and Rasheed Wallace is certainly enjoying the company. The Pistons still aren't elite, but the depth and variety that Webber adds makes them much better. As long as everyone is willing to share and to put up with slightly lower individual numbers, that is.
C - Calgary Flames. I might be biased because they are my hometown team, but the Flames are playing as well as any team in the NHL right now. It has been years since the team has been able to score, but suddenly they look like offensive superstars, and they still have one of the best goalies in the league. They're definitely worth a look.
D - Degenerates. How many bettors were either nervous or hopeful that the last drive at the end of the game would turn into a Chicago touchdown that would cause them to cover (and cause the game to go over, too)? It seemed too much to hope, though, that the Chicago offense would do something right then when they had done so little up to that point.
E - Effort. It's a scary word, but one that the Bears might want to check out. I knew that I was taking a risk by backing the Bears, but I though that, at the very least, I would be backing a team that was going to actually try. There were moments of good work, but overall they didn't really seem to want it badly enough.
F - Finally. It took them 23 games, but Iona finally got a win. That means that every Division I team in college basketball has a win now. Iona has been terrible, but you could potentially have seen this one coming - after starting out just 1-13 ATS, the Gaels had covered four of six before the win, so they were showing some signs of life.
G - Grossman, Rex. I take back every nice thing that I have said about this guy over the last two weeks. Those two second half interceptions were some seriously bad throws. His touchdown pass was nice, and he completed a high percentage, but that won't be enough to save him from all the mean things people will say about him in the coming weeks. Mean, but true.
H - Hester, Devin. The game may not have ended so well for his team, but Hester sure found an exciting way to start things out. That dude has some ridiculous moves. It seems odd that Indianapolis started the game by kicking right to the biggest return threat in the league, but it turned out alright for them in the end.
I - Invasor. Last year's Horse of the Year ran for the first time since the Breeders' Cup on Saturday. After running into a wall of horses at the top of the stretch and almost falling down, he found some space, made a heroic charge and won handily. This horse is really, really good. Next stop is the Dubai World Cup against another freak, Discreet Cat, on March 31. That race has the makings of a real classic.
J - Jones, Thomas. The word is that Chicago's running back could soon be traded. The Bears may be spending too much on their backfield with both Jones and Benson making starting money, but they sure could regret getting rid of Jones. Some team is going to be very, very happy to have him in their colors.
K - Kissing mechanics. This has nothing to do with sports betting, but the Snickers commercial with the two mechanics was the best ad of the day. Robert Goulet was a solid second, though I can't remember what he was trying to sell me. The Blockbuster one with the mouse was funny, too.
L - Lue, Tyronn. He may be short and goofy looking, and it is a mystery how, for the most part, he keeps a starting job in the NBA, but every so often the little gaffer from Atlanta earns his keep. His OT buzzer beater won the game on Sunday against New Jersey after Vince Carter drained a three to tie it with 2.9 seconds left. That was Atlanta's fifth win in seven, and sixth cover in eight. Atlanta's suddenly playing better than they have since, well,Šhas Atlanta ever played well?
M - Meaningless? Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff against Florida in the national championship game. His team looked flat after that and underperformed. Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. His team looked flat after that and underperformed. If I was a coach I think I'd be telling my returner to take a knee on the kickoff from now on.
N - Nobiz Like Shobiz. It's early on the Derby trail, but there is a clear favorite at this point. In the biggest Derby prep of the year so far, the Holy Bull at Gulfstream, this horse faced Scat Daddy, another top three year old, and beat him easily. He led virtually every step of the way, and he never looked vulnerable. The best part is that the horse still looks pretty green, so he could be scary when he learns how to race.
O - Odd? Is it just me, or did it seem odd that Thomas Jones only touched the ball 15 times? He broke one huge run, and he was averaging more than four yards a touch other than that, so it probably would have been worth a few more tries. If nothing else, it would have perhaps kept the ball out of Manning's hands a bit more. And Grossman's, for that matter.
P - Precipitation. If I was in Miami, I think that I would have started to build an ark at halftime. That was some seriously crazy rain. I would have thought, though, that CBS would have been able to afford a cloth to wipe off the lenses on their cameras. It was hard to see some of the game through the drops of water and the fog.
Q - Quinney, Jeff. It was a rough day for Quinney at the FBR Open. He had the lead going down the stretch, but then he blew it with bogies on the last two holes. Aaron Baddeley birdied four of the last six to win it. The best part of the tournament was Badd's Brigade - the finest looking set of fans that any professional athlete has ever had. I'd win, too, if they were cheering for me.
R - Race for the roses. Besides Nobiz Like Shobiz, the most impressive three year old this weekend was Adore the Gold, who won the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday. He took the lead at the start of the seven-furlong sprint, led through blazing fast fractions, and still looked strong down the stretch to win. It remains to be seen how well he stretches out, but it was a good start, and something for longshot seekers to keep in mind.
S - Stop the run. Apparently the Bears didn't see this as a priority. Rhodes and Addai both looked impressive nearly every time they touched the ball. It certainly seemed a little surprising that a team that stopped the run so well during the year was so bad in the Super Bowl, especially after the Saints couldn't seem to run an inch.
T - Toronto Raptors. The Raps are actually playing like a real basketball team all of a sudden. It looked for a long while like no team in the Atlantic Division would do that all year. They are 12-4 over their last 16, Chris Bosh is playing like the beast he is, and they are a league-best 29-19 ATS, including 12-5 in their last 17.
U - Upset. Coach K is not a happy man right now. Not only did Florida State get their first ever win at Cameron Indoor, but they got it by coming back from 17 down. Duke does not look like a team that is poised to head to the Sweet Sixteen yet again, do they?
V - Virginia Commonwealth. Are they this year's Cinderella team? They're comfortably atop the CAA, which is where George Mason came from last year. They are 20-4, and a more than respectable 12-6-2 ATS. One concern is that they haven't beaten anyone of national importance, but the same can be said about a lot of teams.
W - What now? No more NFL. No more college football. Arena football doesn't count. What in the world are we supposed to obsess over now? How many days until the draft?
X - Xavier. Another up and down week for our mascot team. They lost a game at Duquesne that they had to have since they were favored by 13, but bounced back and pounded the life out of Charlotte, beating them by 34. They went over in both games, though, which means that they have now gone over in nine of their last 10. Y - Yikes. First Tony Romo couldn't hold onto the ball, and now no one could hang on during the Super Bowl. Sure, new shiny balls are nice and all, but do you think maybe the league is going just a little too far?
Z - Zags. Don't look now, but Gonzaga has it rolling again. They had an important win at Stanford this week and they crushed Pepperdine. They don't have the easiest schedule down the stretch, but they control their own destiny in the WCC and seem to be peaking just in time for the tournament. Their prospects look a whole lot better than they did a month ago.