The over/under for the NBA All-Star Game, as you would have guessed, couldn't go high enough.
The over/under for Team LeBron vs. Team Durant opened at 307.5 at BetMGM. It immediately ticked up to 308.5. By Sunday morning, 83 percent of the tickets and 81 percent of the money had been placed on the over and it was up to 313.5. Then 314.5. And 315. 316.5, 317.5 ... by tipoff the over/under was 319.5. You won't often find any side or total, in any sport, move 12 points. The books needed to avoid 320 points being scored.
When the fourth quarter opened, the format of the game made it easy to figure out: Bettors needed trailing Team Durant to reach 150 points for 320 total. When it got to 167-147, Team LeBron needed 3 points to finish the game. Steph Curry, who seemingly hit everything on Sunday night for Team LeBron, pulled up for a 27-footer and the win. Bettors rejoiced when he missed and James Harden drained a 3 on the other end for Team Durant. Seconds later Damian Lillard hit a 40-footer to end the game 170-150, capping a very profitable day for bettors.
Make fun of betting on the All-Star Game if you wish, but it was a money maker on Sunday.
At of Sunday morning at BetMGM, 85 percent of the money on the point spread was on Team LeBron at -3.5. That covered easily. Curry, who opened at +200 odds to win the 3-point contest, got 63 percent of the money in that market. Curry hit his final shot to beat Mike Conley for that title. The highest percentage of money on who would win MVP was on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who got 20.7 percent of the handle at BetMGM. No other player was above 13.3 percent for MVP. Antetokounmpo didn't miss a shot and won MVP.
About the only major market that BetMGM beat bettors on was the slam-dunk contest. Cassius Stanley was the highest-bet participant but Anfernee Simons won. At least the sportsbook got one win on Sunday.
The All-Star Game is a strange event to bet on, with players themselves not taking the game all that seriously, especially on defense. But bettors care most about cashing winning tickets, and from the beginning of the night to the end there was practically nothing but winners.
Here are the winners and losers from the past week in the sports betting world:
Loyola Chicago and some other intriguing mid-majors: The auto bids have started. Conference championship week is upon us.
Loyola Chicago was one of the first four mid-major teams to punch an NCAA tournament ticket over the weekend, and they're going to be a popular pick in about a week. Loyola is all the way up to No. 9 in the KenPom rankings after breezing through the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. The Ramblers covered with ease in all three games in St. Louis, winning each by double digits. Their only loss since Jan. 10 was a 1-point overtime loss at Drake. Yahoo Sports' Michael Lazarus had Loyola as a 10 seed in his big board, and if that holds it's going to be favored over a No. 7 seed and get most of the bets too.
The other auto bids over the weekend went to capable teams. Morehead State (Ohio Valley) is 19-1 since starting 4-6, Liberty (Atlantic Sun) is a top-100 KenPom team that beat South Carolina and Mississippi State early this season and Winthrop (Big South) is 22-1 with a two-point loss as its only blemish. Any one of those three teams look capable of a first-round upset in the right matchup, or at very least covering the spread in the first round.
There are many more auto bids to be handed out this week. Scouting for your bracket picks and strong bets in the first round of the NCAA tournament starts now.
NHL favorites: The easiest trend in the NHL this season is just to find favorites and bet them. Feel free to parlay a couple if you wish.
Chalk is ruling hockey this season. According to Covers' season-long trends, NHL favorites are winning at a 63.1 percent rate. Road favorites are a little higher at 64 percent. Favorites have been even better lately, hitting at 68.4 percent over the last week (71.4 percent for road favorites).
The best teams in the league seem to be cashing every time out: Tampa Bay, Carolina, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vegas, Washington and the New York Islanders are at or near the top of their divisions and have all gone at least 7-3 over their last 10 games. It has been a little predictable in the NHL lately, but that's fine for bettors.
Anyone trying to bet against Amanda Nunes: Nunes, the women's featherweight champion in UFC, was an overwhelming -900 favorite at BetMGM for her UFC 259 fight. She got Megan Anderson to tap out in the first round.
Nunes is turning that division into a predictable one. It seems hard to believe anyone is close to beating Nunes, who has won 12 straight fights. She has a claim as the greatest female fighter in UFC history and is adding to that legacy.
The rest of the UFC card wasn't as predictable. Israel Adesanya was a big favorite in the main event but lost a decision to Jan Blachowicz. In the other title fight of the night, Aljamain Sterling won as a small underdog in controversial fashion after Petr Yan was disqualified for an illegal knee. There was some drama, just not with the Nunes fight.
Duke's chances of making the NCAA tournament: Those who pay attention to college basketball for three weeks out of the year, starting on Selection Sunday, might spend a few seconds fruitlessly searching for Duke on their bracket.
The Blue Devils are probably stuck with one path to making the NCAA tournament, and that's winning the ACC tournament this week. Duke has lost a lot of close games and then got blown out by North Carolina in the regular-season finale on Saturday to pretty much fall off the bubble. If Duke gets an at-large bid at this point it will infuriate Blue Devils haters who know they don't deserve a spot.
Fading Duke (and Kentucky) has been profitable for bettors all season. Duke will be desperate in the ACC tournament this week, but will it even matter?
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