There's nothing better in sports than a do-or-die game. March Madness is so widely popular because it's a nonstop series of elimination games. Viewership for Game 7s in the NBA, NHL and MLB is always higher than the previous games in the series. The football playoffs are thrilling.
On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. men's national team faces a simple proposition. Beat Iran and advance to the second round of the tournament. If the U.S. loses or earns a draw, it'll be eliminated. The whole country is watching. If you don't win, it's over for four years. No pressure.
The U.S. is a betting favorite to pull out the victory at +100. Iran pays out at +290 on the moneyline while a draw pays out at +230. The U.S. is coming off an impressive performance against England that earned them a draw. However, Iran took advantage of a late red card to the Wales goalkeeper and earned all three points in its previous game. That has Iran in the driver's seat here, as all it needs is a draw to advance.
That's the main concern ahead of the USA-Iran match on Tuesday. Iran will certainly park the bus. They don't need the win. The Americans will likely dominate possession and be tasked with trying to break down the Iran defense. That's not a role they're in all that often. That's why the total is juiced so heavily to the under, with under 2.5 goals being a -185 favorite.
For a more in-depth breakdown of the scenarios and the matchup between the United States and Iran, you can read Nick Bromberg's preview here. They always say not to bet with your heart, but rather bet with your head. The World Cup is a rare exception. As a proud American, it is my constitutional duty to bet the United States to win on Tuesday afternoon.
In the other game in Group B, England is a -210 favorite against Wales. England is almost certainly onto the next round no matter the result, but it'll want to win the group. Wales will be without goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey after his red card in their last game.
Decent day of college basketball, marquee matchup in the NBA
Once the World Cup wraps up, you can turn your attention to the hardwood in the evening.
There are only three NBA games on Tuesday's schedule, but there's a solid matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors. Dallas is a 1.5-point home underdog, having lost four straight games. Golden State has won three straight games. Elsewhere, the New York Knicks are 5.5-point road favorites against the Detroit Pistons while Portland is a 3.5-point favorite at home against the Clippers.
On the college slate, the best game of the night probably features Michigan hosting No. 3 Virginia. Virginia is a 3.5-point road favorite. Elsewhere, Baylor is a 6.5-point favorite against Marquette and Clemson is a 1.5-point home favorite against Penn State.
Nine-game NHL slate
If you're more interested in the ice than the hardwood, the NHL delivers a solid nine-game slate on Tuesday.
The Boston Bruins have opened their season with a 12-0 record on home ice, and that perfection will be put on the line on Tuesday night. Boston is a sizable -165 favorite against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning played on Monday night and erased a two-goal deficit in the final six minutes to force overtime, where they won on a Steven Stamkos goal.
Speaking of streaks, the Philadelphia Flyers have lost 10 straight games. They host the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, who have won four in a row. Long Island is a -190 road favorite. The Seattle Kraken have won five straight games, and they're slight +110 underdogs on the road against the Los Angeles Kings.
Other marquee matchups include Matthew Tkachuk's return to Calgary, where the Flames are -160 favorites against the Panthers. Winnipeg has quietly been one of the more surprising teams in the league, and it's a +115 home underdog against the Colorado Avalanche.
First look at Week 13 of the NFL
Week 12 of the NFL season wrapped up on Monday night with the Pittsburgh Steelers earning an outright victory as a 2.5-point road underdog. The game went over the total of 39.5 points as Pittsburgh earned a 24-17 victory.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Atlanta Falcons (pick-em)
New York Jets @ Minnesota Vikings (-3)
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)