Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.
Here are our best bets for Saturday, Dec. 10:
The play: Men’s college basketball, Kansas at Missouri OVER 154½
The odds/bet: -110 ($33 to win $30)
The book: Caesars Sportsbook
Time/TV: 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Our take: One of the best rivalries in college basketball is back, with Kansas and Missouri taking what was once an annual showdown in the Big 12 and making it a non-conference series (they resumed the series last year in Lawrence; this year they play in Columbia, and every third year the game will be in Kansas City.)
Thing is, for many years of the hiatus, Kansas was much better than Missouri. But this year the Tigers may be able to challenge the No. 6 Jayhawks; Mizzou is one of the nation’s 10 remaining unbeaten teams (albeit against a soft schedule), and Kansas is only favored by 2½ points.
For this bet, we look not to the spread but to the total, which sits at a high-but-not-astronomical number of 154½. Missouri, under first-year coach Dennis Gates, has scored 80-plus in all nine games this season, including over 90 five times and over 100 once. Clearly, the Jayhawks won’t be that generous defensively, but the point is that Gates has Mizzou playing fast — their 74.3 possessions per game is No. 4 nationally, according to KenPom.com.
Kansas’ tempo is less extreme, but the Jayhawks should be able to score plenty of points. And if the game comes down to the wire in front of a boisterous crowd, you can also count on plenty of fouls called and a close finish, both of which help the over. In what could be the most entertaining game of the day, don’t be surprised if both teams surpass 80 points.
SETTLING DOWN THE WORLD CUP
The play: World Cup, Portugal three-way money line over Morocco
The odds/bet: -140 ($140 to win $10)
The book: DraftKings
Time/TV: 10 a.m. (FOX)
Our take: The first two World Cup quarterfinals on Friday were zany, crazy, insane. Both Brazil and Argentina saw late leads evaporate in the final minutes and were taken to penalty-kick shootouts, where only Argentina was able to survive. With pre-tournament favorite Brazil out, Lionel Messi’s team is now chalk to win the World Cup.
But here’s predicting things settle down a bit in the last two quarterfinals today. That starts with Morocco, the tournament’s Cinderella that stunned Spain in another shootout in the round of 16. The Atlas Lions are a hard-working side but have little attacking talent beyond Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, so they must work extremely hard to slow down and defend against the world’s top sides.
Morocco did that for 120 minutes against Spain, which showed little of the creativity that team has become known for. Now, with just three rest days, they must attempt to do it again against Portugal, which has shown more attacking teeth than any team in the tournament outside of perhaps France.
Sooner or later, the Portuguese will break down that tired Moroccan defense. If it happens early in the game, Portugal -1.5 is worth a look here, but we’ll stick with the safe side and simply pick them to win the game within 90 minutes.
HOW WE’VE FARED
FCS playoffs: Samford-North Dakota State OVER 62.5 (LOST $33)
NBA: Pelicans money line over Suns (WON $10.50)
Friday’s profit/loss: -$22.50 (1-1)
Total for the week: -$70.50 (3-7)
Total for December: -$58.50 (7-11)
Total for 2022: +$313.90 (321-341)
NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)
Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, a $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).