David J. Phillip / Associated Press
Saturday, April 16, 2022 | 2 a.m.
Scottie Scheffler dug the Weekend Wagers column out of an early-season hole, but now it’s looking awfully empty as far as pending future wagers.
I backed the eventual Masters champion at +110 (i.e. risking $100 to win $110) going into a weekend where he held a five-stroke lead, and his victory almost entirely wiped away a two-month downturn post football season. Now it’s time to use that momentum to go on a run partially through stocking back up on future bets.
It’s another big sports weekend with leagues far and wide putting on events, including the start of the NBA playoffs and the reintroduction of the USFL. For those two, I’m going to mix in a future to go with usual plays on this weekend’s action below.
Let’s put that Scheffler money into play.
Read below for this weekend’s bets on five different sports — including a pair of bonus futures. Records are attached for each individual sport with a cumulative tally at the bottom of the page. Lines are the best available in Las Vegas at publication time.
NBA (0-0, $0): Minnesota Timberwolves +7 at Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 (STN Sports)
$220 to win $200
Minnesota has put one of the best offenses in the league on the floor for more than half the season at this point. It doesn’t get enough credit for its lethal scoring ability. The Timberwolves’ defense isn’t half-bad either when everyone is healthy, and everyone is healthy for this series. The Grizzlies are the team with more concerns in that department as Ja Morant only returned for a couple games near the end of the regular season with a knee injury that’s likely leaving him somewhere below 100% to start this series. Memphis should advance, but it needs to expect a challenge from Minnesota. Station Casinos might be the only place in the world hanging an NBA key number of 7 here, and it’s a must-bet as long as it stays up.
NBA (0-0, $0): Devin Booker to win NBA Finals MVP 5-to-1 & Chris Paul to win NBA Finals MVP 8-to-1 (Boyd Sports)
$225 to win $1,125 on Booker, $150 to win $1,200 on Paul
I never wrote them up in the column, so I won’t take credit now and track them as part of the bottom line but here are the title futures I’m currently sitting on going into the postseason — Brooklyn at 3-to-1 (yuck), Milwaukee at 10-to-1 (nice) and Phoenix at 7-to-1 (even nicer). I’m tapped out and don’t want to add anymore to my portfolio but would like some more exposure on Phoenix. This is a great route to do so.
If the Suns march to the Finals like I expect them to, Booker and Paul are going to re-open at less than 2-to-1 to win the MVP award. It’s not impossible for any of their teammates to win it, but it’s unlikely so I’d rather grab these two prices now and build around them going forward. This is a bad investment if Phoenix doesn’t reach the Finals, but otherwise a worthwhile futures play with eyes on adding another top contender or two at value prices along the way. I strongly believe the Suns will reach the Finals.
USFL (0-0, $0): Houston Gamblers +3 vs. Michigan Panthers (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
$220 to win $200
Naturally, it’s the Gamblers for the gambling column in week 1 of the latest alternative football league to spring up, right? But I promise there’s a lot more going into this handicap than the name. The Panthers are a co-favorite to win the USFL title for no reason other than name value as far as I can tell. They got a lot of publicity when Jeff Fisher agreed to be the coach and drafted Shea Patterson as the overall No. 1 pick. The Gamblers’ roster is better, though. Clayton Thorson doesn’t inspire much more confidence than Patterson at quarterback but coach Kevin Sumlin has equipped him with a bunch of speedy-skill position players. It looks like Sumlin and the Gamblers will be running a much more modern offense than Fisher and the Panthers. That’s more than enough reason for me to grab the valuable three points in what should be a low-scoring affair as these leagues rarely produce shootouts traditionally.
USFL (0-0, $0): New Orleans Breakers 5-to-1 to win USFL title (SuperBook)
$200 to win $1,000
Speaking of modern offenses, coach Larry Fedora might have set up his team with the best chance to actually score some points. Kyle Sloter might be the best quarterback in the league after bouncing around NFL practice squads the last four years and occasionally impressing in the preseason. Shawn Poindexter might be the best receiver in the league with his 6-foot-5 frame and big-play ability dating back to his time at the University of Arizona. Tampa Bay and Michigan are listed above New Orleans at +450 to win the league at the Superbook, but the Breakers look a least on par with the former and better the latter on paper. They’re the only team worth backing long-term going into the season.
MLB (1-0, $200): Boston Red Sox -115 vs. Minnesota Twins (Wynn)
$172.50 to win $150
This could be a beneficial pitching matchup for the Red Sox. Twins starter Sonny Gray might not be what he used to be, while Red Sox starter Tanner Houck is on the rise. That should be enough to raise this line to at least above the -120 range in a game between two teams that otherwise look pretty even. The Red Sox sat as high as -125 at offshore sports books on the overnight lines, which makes a lot more sense than the depressed price found in Las Vegas. I’m still treading lightly with early-season baseball but this might be the best opening price on the board.
UFC (5-6, -$5): Vicente Luque -165 vs. Belal Muhammad at UFC Fight Night (Golden Nugget)
$330 to win $200
Tonight’s main event is a rematch of a fight from 2016 when Luque knocked out Muhammad in just more than a minute. The narrative of the second fight is how much Muhammad has improved, but guess what? So has Luque. Muhammad is likely the bigger name because of his broadcasting career with ESPN, and his popularity might be seeping into this line ever so slightly. Luque should be about -200, so there’s a pretty big in edge in backing him at the much shorter price.
NASCAR (3-1, $350): Martin Truex Jr. -110 head-to-head in Bristol dirt race vs. Denny Hamlin (SuperBook)
$220 to win $200
Do revenge games exist in racing? Hopefully. Truex has unfinished business after dominating the first-ever version of this race last year. He led a tick more than half of the laps with far and away the fastest car, but suffered some bad luck late as a result of a couple crashes to finish 19th. He should be a bigger favorite over Hamlin, who’s a skilled driver but has neither any background on dirt nor shown any reason to be feared on the surface. Fading Hamlin worked last week with Ryan Blaney, so let’s run it back with Truex this time around.
Weekend wagers column year to date: 13-15, -$17.50
Weekend betting column all-time: 255-245-1, $6,500.93
Previous pending future wagers: Philadelphia Union 16-to-1 to win MLS Cup ($125 to win $2,000); Seattle Mariners +650 to win AL West ($100 to win $650)