In between March Madness wagers, West Virginia bettors love their professional basketball. It’s part of their rich betting landscape this week.
An attractive NBA schedule, a Pittsburgh Pirate rookie making noise during the exhibition season and the next NASCAR event on Sunday highlight “Mountain State Madness.”
NBA betting overview
The NBA, even without a strong franchise in nearby Cleveland or Washington, remains one of WV DraftKings’ most wagered-upon sports.
Bettors seek prop angles concerning the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, who don’t have to be good to provide a betting target. Gamblers also can wager into overall patterns surrounding the league.
Here’s a look at the schedule.
Wizards, Cavs scuffle
Neither team hit midweek with a victory after the All-Star break. But the Wizards attract prop betting with NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal, averaging over 32 points per game.
Russell Westbrook is always a threat for double-double or triple-double props, averaging 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists per game
Washington hosts the Jazz on Thursday, then visits the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday and the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
Cleveland has been getting blown out the entire month of March. One might think there would be at least one big game in this team, for pride purposes alone, in an upcoming home stretch.
The Cavs host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, the Toronto Raptors on Sunday and the Sacramento Kings on Monday.
Around the league, who is rewarding gamblers?
According to various research reports, a few teams have been remarkably consistent against the spread.
The Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz have cover percentages close to 70%. The New York Knicks are third, with just under 60%.
This is a viable pattern to bet into.
Three straight at home: Thursday and Friday, versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, part of the NBA’s compacted scheduling to restrict travel, and then Sunday versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
It will be interesting to see if some regulars are rested or see fewer minutes in the Friday game, because the Lakers game on Sunday is a big one.
At the Wizards on Thursday, the Toronto Raptors on Friday, and versus the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
Versus the Orlando Magic on Thursday and the 76ers on Sunday. Then come the Wizards on Tuesday and Thursday of next week. The Knicks will look to snap a 14-game losing streak to the Sixers.
The Knicks just covered on back-to-back nights in close losses to the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, and they always play tough.
Best home teams covering
Utah, Phoenix and Philadelphia.
Versus Sacramento Kings on Saturday, at the Knicks on Sunday, and versus Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Three teams below them in the standings, but the Sixers are also without star Joel Embiid for at least another week.
Best teams on the over
New Orleans, the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.
Upcoming games, with the betting angle of total points:
At Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, then versus Denver Nuggets on Sunday and the Lakers on Tuesday.
At Orlando on Friday, versus the Wizards on Sunday, and at Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday.
Road trip. At Boston Celtics on Friday, at Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, and at Cleveland on Monday.
These performances don’t guarantee future results but are a good barometer of how teams are perceived. The Knicks, for example, have been one of the better teams to cover, even while failing badly on the moneyline, for several years. This year, they are improved, losing close games but managing to cover the number.
One of the biggest NBA developments concerns the MVP race and the jockeying between LeBron James, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic.
Embiid had vaulted into the top spot last week, but an injury has sidelined him for two weeks and dropped the Philadelphia 76ers star way back, to +600 at DraftKings.
James again leads the way at +160, with Jokic second at +200.
How did Embiid slide? He has only played 31 games this year and will miss about another week with a bone bruise on his left knee. Embiid has enjoyed a breakout year with just under 30 points and over 11 rebounds per game. But he is crucial to the Sixers’ postseason hopes and may not play enough to earn the MVP.
MLB: Praise for Hayes
Sure, it’s early, but not too early to begin touting Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes.
DraftKings considers him the +350 favorite for National League Rookie of the Year.
That’s a big development for the Pirates, who have an over-under win total of just 58.5 games at the book.
Hayes came up for a cup of coffee late last season and made it a grande. In 85 at-bats, he raked at a .376 clip, had a .442 on-base percentage and slugged five home runs.
He has followed this in spring training by hitting over .400 as the Pirates closed within two weeks of their season opener, April 1 against the Chicago Cubs.
Hayes is only 24 and already considered a budding team leader. He also has a pedigree, being the son of former major league third baseman Charlie Hayes, who played with the Pirates in 1996.
NASCAR: Betting the champs
There have been no repeat winners at NASCAR over eight events. But the winners usually perform well the following week. Keep that in mind for head-to-head matchups, which usually go up close to the time of the event.
Sunday is the Quik Trip 500, airing at 3 p.m. on Fox.
Here is the DraftKings leaderboard:
- Kevin Harvick +550
- Kyle Larson +650
- Martin Truex Jr. +650
- Brad Keselowski +750
- Chase Elliott +2000
Viable long shot: Byron +2000.
- Ford +155
- Chevrolet +170
- Toyota +200
- Joe Gibbs +210
- Hendrick Motorsports +260
- Team Penske +300
- Stewart-Haas +4560
Overall Cup series standings
These drivers have been dependable. Season results:
- Denny Hamlin – 236 points
- Keselowski – 197
- Joey Logano – 192
- Martin Truex Jr. – 180 (last week’s winner at the Instacart 500)
- Kyle Larson – 179