Hello, and Happy New Year’s Eve Eve. That’s right, 2021 is right around the corner, but while it’s still a couple of days away, this is the last time I’ll be appearing in your inbox with picks until next year. There won’t be a PM edition of the newsletter with picks on Thursday, but like last week, I’ll be back on Friday with enough picks to get you through the weekend.
And if you’re worried about what you’re going to do with yourself on Thursday, my Lock of the Week in the latest edition of The Six Pack does involve a New Year’s Eve bowl game. So maybe you should go read that.
We’ve certainly got plenty of things to do between now and then, with bowl season hitting its peak, the NFL approaching the final weekend of its regular season and the NBA and college basketball going every night. I have to say, for as badly as a lot of 2020 sucked for us all, and as awful as those months without sports were, the parts of the year that had everything going at the same time were pretty great. So I’m going to enter 2021 looking at the glass half-full instead of half-empty.
You know, because that’s what you do at this time of year. You tell yourself you’re going to become a better person, and then by about Jan. 7, you’re done with that nonsense.
OK, let’s finish the year off with some winners.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
? The Hot Ticket
No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Florida, 8 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Florida +7.5 (-110): Who’s ready to fade the public? One of the things about betting bowl games is keeping track of which teams have players opting out. You then have to judge whether or not the reaction to those opt-outs is justified or if it’s an overreaction.
Well, we’ve seen the overreaction here.
Check out our experts on The Early Edge podcast — download and subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or listen below:
Florida will be without Kyle Pitts, Trevon Grimes, Kadarious Toney and Jacob Copeland. The first three are missing the game to get ready for the NFL Draft. Copeland is out due to COVID-19. These four players comprise Florida’s four leading receivers. That’s not good! Florida is certainly not a better team without them! But the line in this game moved from Florida being a three-point favorite to Florida being a seven-point dog. That’s 10 points worth of movement, and I’m going to buy back on some of it.
This Florida team has depth at the receiver spot, and it’s one of the most prolific offenses in the sport. It put up points on everybody, scoring at least 31 points in every game it played, and it will still have quarterback Kyle Trask. Oklahoma will be without one of its top corners in Tre Brown, too, which hurts the secondary against a passing team. When the world zigs, we zag. We’re taking Florida.
Key Trend: Florida is 5-1 ATS in its last six as an underdog.
Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model has been doing its thing and cooking up all the simulations. What’s it pulling out of the oven after letting the Cotton Bowl bake?
? The Picks
Blazers at Clippers, 10 p.m. | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Blazers +3.5 (-110) — It’s not exactly a groundbreaking strategy to fade teams playing on the second of a back-to-back in the NBA. It’s a well-known strategy and one oddsmakers are aware of and account for. But I’m interested in testing whether they’ve done enough this year because we’ve seen the NBA back away from scheduling so many back-to-backs in recent years, but this year there’s no choice.
There will be many of them, and we’re likely to see a lot more rest days for stars because of it. So I look at this matchup between a Clippers team that played on Tuesday night going against a Portland team that had Tuesday off, and I see a chance to explore. It doesn’t hurt that this is a good Portland team coming off a win over the Lakers on Monday, meaning that they haven’t had to travel for this game, either.
Key Trend: The Clippers are 1-5 ATS in the second leg of their last six back-to-backs.
? College Basketball
Mississippi State at Georgia, 7 p.m. | TV: SEC Network
The Pick: Mississippi State +2 (-110) — Call me a hater if you must, but I am not a believer in the 7-0 Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia has compiled that start thanks mostly to playing a Charmin-soft schedule. KenPom ranks their schedule difficulty at 289th in the country, and they’ve played only one top-100 team (No. 76 Cincinnati). They’re also yet to play a game outside of Athens.
Now, none of this is to say that Mississippi State’s run through a gauntlet, but this strikes me as a decent matchup for State. State’s been much stronger offensively than Georgia, and it has been phenomenal on the offensive glass, a trend that should continue against Georgia. This is going to be a close game that likely sees the lead change hands several times, with nobody ever pulling away. In a game like that, it makes taking the points attractive.
Key Trend: Mississippi State is 9-4 ATS following its last 13 ATS wins (the Bulldogs covered in their last game).
? SportsLine Pick of the Day: Boxing insider Peter Kahn, nominated for Manager of the Year in 2019, is an astounding 31-7 on SportsLine boxing picks since the sport returned from the coronavirus hiatus. Here are his picks for Saturday’s big fight in Dallas.
? The DFS Rundown
Jayson Tatum, Boston, SF/PF — We’re only four games into the season with the Celtics, but in those four games, Tatum has been putting up superstar DFS numbers at a price slightly cheaper than your typical DFS superstar. Tonight we’re going to take advantage of that before his price starts going up and we lose out on the value. Against a Memphis team that will be missing both Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson (and plenty of others) and ranks in the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency, Tatum should feast.
Tyler Herro, Miami, SG/SF — Last night, Milwaukee rained threes down upon the Heat and blew them away early. That didn’t stop Herro from putting up 23 points with seven assists and three rebounds. I won’t be surprised if we see Herro have a similar performance in the rematch tonight, and if he does, it will provide tremendous value for his price.
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.
? NBA Player Props
- Trae Young Over 3.5 rebounds (-160)
- Kevin Durant Over 4.5 assists (+100)
- Gordon Hayward Over 18.5 points (-105)
- Damian Lillard Over 3.5 rebounds (-150)