NHL heads into All-Star weekend

January 30, 2001 7:38 AM
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Tuesday, Jan. 30

Detroit at New Jersey: This is the first meeting this season between these two powerhouses. The Devils are in first place in the Atlantic Division. The Red Wings are in second place in the Central Division as they continue to chase the Blues. However, if the Red Wings were in any division in the Eastern Conference, they’d be in first place. Detroit is 2-1 against the Atlantic Division this season and should continue its winning ways in this hard-hitting battle. Predicted score: Detroit 3-2.

Colorado at San Jose: These two Western Conference rivals meet for the third time this season and the second time in the past 10 days in San Jose. The Avalanche won that game 2-1. In their first meeting, they skated to a 2-2 tie in Colorado. The Avs are 8-3-2 versus the Pacific Division. The Sharks are just 4-4-6 against the Northwest. Take Colorado to continue to dominate the Sharks. Predicted score: Colorado 3-1.

Wednesday, Jan. 31

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh: These two Atlantic Division rivals meet for the third time this season. The Penguins have won both games, the first at home 5-2 and in Philadelphia 1-0. Both games were without Mario Lemieux. The Flyers lead the Penguins by four points, but they’re only 4-3-2-1 against the Atlantic Division. The Penguins are 6-2. Predicted score: Pittsburgh 5-3.

Thursday, Feb. 1

Columbus at St. Louis: Do you like free money? This is the mismatch of the week. St. Louis beat Columbus 5-0 last month. The Blues are 23-9-3-0 against the West. The Blue Jackets are 9-21-1-3. St. Louis is 6-3-1-0 versus the Central Division. Columbus is 1-6-0-1. Did we say free money? Predicted score: St. Louis 6-1.

Dallas at San Jose: They played each other last Friday in Dallas. The Sharks came away with a much-needed 2-1 victory. The season series is 1-1-1. The Sharks are 6-1-1 against the Pacific Division. Dallas is 5-5-2. Look for the Stars to avenge that loss of last week as they continue to stalk the Sharks for first place. Predicted score: Dallas 4-2.


Focus now on NBA

By Andy Iskoe

With the Baltimore Ravens’ defense demolishing the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, the football season is over. Sure, the new XFL is about to debut and feed on the nation’s football frenzy for a few more months. But the uncertainty surrounding the caliber of athletes and the quality of play in the new league leaves it open to debate as to the level of interest that will be shown both at the gate and at the betting windows here in Las Vegas.

It does promise to be entertaining, but for wagering value it will probably require some time before a true analysis of the league’s teams and players can be accurately made.

The fans’ major interest now turns to basketball. The NBA has reached the halfway point and, as has been the case for several weeks, there have been some interesting developments as division races take shape.

Coming into the season, it was almost universally conceded the NBA championship will be won by a Western Conference team. The defending champion Lakers were huge favorites. They feature two of the league’s top players in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. They’re coached by Phil Jackson, who added a seventh ring to his collection.

Portland was conceded as having the deepest roster in the league and would merely need to overcome the demons from last season’s unbelievable fourth quarter collapse in the seventh game versus the Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Sacramento was improved. Dallas had flashed signs of potential. Utah was still dangerous as long as Karl Malone and John Stockton held court. San Antonio was also a strong preseason choice.

But as the season unfolds, it’s quite apparent that Utah and San Antonio continue to set the pace in the Midwest Division with the Jazz starting the week a 1/2-game in front of the Spurs. But this is the league’s most tightly contested division. Dallas, Minnesota and Denver are all within two games of the lead. Houston is just six games back, with a .500 record.

The Pacific Division is led by Sacramento and Portland, with the Lakers just three games from the lead. Both Phoenix and Seattle have fallen back, but they’re very much in the playoff race. Over the past month or so, 11 of the 14 Western Conference teams are playing at least .500 ball. Houston, with the 11th best record in the West, would be the No. 7 seed in the East.

Here are three attractive games coming up.

Orlando at Philadelphia (Friday) — The game handicaps to a total of 190 points. Use that number as your guide, hoping for an overlay of at least five points before a play on the over/under.

Seattle at Utah (Saturday) — This could be played more up-tempo than expected. We’d look for the total points to exceed 200. Utah will be a solid favorite. The preference would be for Utah, if laying no more than six points. The OVER might be the better play.

New York at Miami (Sunday) — The Knicks have better offensive potential, with Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and Glenn Rice challenging Miami’s Tim Hardaway, Eddie Jones and Anthony Mason. Miami’s Brian Grant gives the Heat some muscle up front to combat Camby.

Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy is a former assistant to and disciple of Miami’s Pat Riley. Against other teams, New York has also been prone to scoring droughts. There will be a low total posted for the game, but the UNDER is still preferred, even if it’s in the mid to high 160’s. If we can get at least 3½ points with New York, the Knicks will also be attractive as an underdog.


One fight is on while another is off due to television contract

The Judge wants to get it on. On the other hand, Oscar might not.

That’s the latest tally on bouts featuring Prince Naseem Hamed/Marco Antonio Barrera (April 7) and Oscar De La Hoya/Arturo Gatti (March 24) – both at the MGM Grand.

Let’s Get It On Productions has the TVKO pay-per-view bout between Hamed and Barrera. It’s a premiere joint venture for Judge Mills Lane and promoter Tony Holden.

The bout between Oscar and Arturo might have fallen through the ropes, according to promoter Bob Arum, whose HBO contact says Arum promotes De La Hoya’s fights. A California judge kayoed Arum’s contract with Oscar, but said the HBO contract was another matter.

Arum said Team De La Hoya asked HBO to renegotiate his contract, but it wouldn’t.


Scheduling is a big factor with betting NCAA hoops

By: Ramon Scott

Former Indiana University head coach Bob Knight used to lash out at the NCAA and TV executives when it came to having games scheduled to the network’s liking.

One of Knight’s major complaints was 9 p.m. (Eastern) start times, but it could be argued that teams are sacrificing games in the middle of the conference schedule to accommodate non-conference, cross-sectional TV games, most of which are on weekends.

But bettors don’t seem to mind laying the points with the higher-ranked (possibly more physically drained) teams, and they’re paying the price. Take last Saturday, when Texas went into Arizona and never had a chance for the money into the second half; and Wake Forest, despite rallying from a sizeable deficit, had little left for Cincinnati after forcing an overtime.

The same thing happened two weeks ago when Temple failed at DePaul and Missouri got rocked at Virginia. More samplings: how about the week before, when North Carolina drummed Marquette?

Coaches will say putting a team on a plane for a quick turnaround game can toughen a squad for the stretch, but rarely have the kids enough energy to put forth a decent effort during regular season.

Tuesday

ST. JOHN’S 77, Connecticut 69 — UConn has failed all three on the conference road in contests where it was expected to keep it closer than this. The Red Storm lost the earlier meeting in overtime and beat the Huskies here last year by 15 at pick ‘em.

Michigan State 78, MICHIGAN 68 — Spartans bounced back with a cover after their first conference loss to Indiana. The caution here is MSU’s third straight on the road. The Wolverines have covered three straight and gone under in three of their last four posted totals.

FLORIDA 79, Tennessee 75 — Vols have failed four-straight, including their last two conference road games, going over in each. The Gators finally had reasonably comfortable game, taking care of USC Saturday to improve to 2-4 as a home favorite. They’ve gone under in four straight.

XAVIER 78, Dayton 66 — Flyers have failed six of seven conference games, including all three at home, and have gone under in five of those seven. The Musketeers have been a rock-solid cover this season, going 11-4 against the number, but just a modest 4-2 as a home favorite, going under in four of their last five.

Wednesday

WAKE FOREST 77, North Carolina State 67 — Wolf Pack covered their only role as a road favorite, but failed their third straight after charging back against UNC Sunday. They’ve gone under in four of six conference games with one push. The Deacons have failed six straight and gone under in five of their last seven, but they’re 4-2 as a home favorite.

Maryland 82, VIRGINIA 81 — The Terps have covered four straight and three straight on the conference road. The Cavs have covered three straight after failing in five consecutive contests. They’re 0-3 against the spread at home in league, although this is their first shot at a home dog.

Thursday

DUKE 90, North Carolina 78 — The Heels are just 4-5 as a home favorite, going over in four of five lined games at home. Devils found a way against Maryland on Saturday, but are 5-1 as a home favorite, including 3-0 in conference. Four of the last five meetings between these two have gone over.

Charlotte 74, Cincinnati 70 — Bearcats have won the last three meetings and covered their only opportunity as a road dog this season. The Niners broke out of their slump with three covers in their last four starts. They’ve gone under in four of their last five.

Arizona 83, OREGON 79 — The Wildcats are back on track with five covers in their last six outings. They’re 2-0 ATS on the conference road. The Ducks won the meeting here last year. They’re 2-1 ATS at home in conference and 4-2 ATS at home overall, but have failed four of their last six.

Friday

MEMPHIS 76, Marquette 67 — The Golden Eagles have covered five of six in conference and gone over in five straight overall. The Tigers have also covered five of six league affairs and are riding an eight-game winning streak. They’re just 3-4 against the number at The Pyramid.

Saturday

MASSACHUSETTS 69, Fordham 65 — The Rams have covered five of their last seven and gone over in four of their last five. They’ve covered both of their opportunities as conference road dogs. Minutemen have strung together eight straight covers, and are 3-2 ATS as a home chalk.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE 77, Syracuse 72 — The Orange have failed four of the last five. They’re 0-2 as a road dog, and they’ve gone under in three of their last four. The Wolf Pack are 1-2 as a home dog and have gone under in four of five posted totals at home.

BUTLER 70, Wright State 62 — Wright fared poorly in their first conference road game. Butler ran into a three-game spread-losing streak after covering three in a row. They’re 10-1 straight up at home, 5-3 against the number. They crushed Wright here by 24 last year.

STANFORD 89, Ucla 71 — Bruins had covered eight out of nine entering the week and had gone under in five of their last seven overall. The lone spread loss was the 25-point crushing at Arizona. The Cardinal came in 3-1 as a home favorite and lost here by a point to UCLA last year.

CINCINNATI 74, DePaul 64 — Demons failed seven of their last eight on the board, including a 1-4 spread mark as a road dog this season. They’ve gone under in five of their last six. Bearcats are 1-6 as a home favorite, but won the last two meetings here by the identical score of 87-64.

WASHINGTON 67, Washington State 64 — Cougars entered the week with four covers in five tries. They’re 3-1 as a road dog this season. Huskies have failed three straight and eight of 10, going over in three of four home contests.

XAVIER 76, George Washington 66 — Colonials are 0-3 against the number on the conference road, but this is the toughest to date. Musketeers won the first meeting on the road by a bucket as a one-point dog and beat GW by 12 at home last year.

CALIFORNIA 75, Southern California 73 — S.C. is 0-2 as a road dog, gone under in five-straight overall and dropped four in a row to Cal. The Bears have covered seven of nine. They’re 2-0 at home against the number in conference, and 7-2 as a home favorite.

LONG BEACH STATE 69, UC Irvine 67 — The ’Eaters entered the week with a 15-2 overall mark and 6-1 spread mark on the road, but they’ve covered just three of their last seven. It’s their fourth road game in five outings. The 49ers have covered four straight on the board, but are 1-4 ATS at home.


Losers grab the payoffs

They’re not horsing around at Boulder Station. Lose ’em all and win.

Win once before then, and you’re DQ’d.

That’s what Boulder Station’s Race Book has in mind. Starting right now (Tuesday 8 a.m.), pony up $10 toward the prize pool on at least nine races at Philadelphia Park. The book starts the pool with $500.

Then, make one selection and one alternate for each

race. These reverse handicappers stay alive as long as their selections run out of the money. If they do, the contestant is scratched. If there’s no winner, entry fees carry over to the next week.

Official Philadelphia Park order of finish grades the contest entries.

Any contestant who runs out of the money on every race wins the prize pool. If there’s a tie, the pool is split equally.