Cure Bowl total pick and Thunder-Timberwolves in NBA: Best bets for Dec. 16

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Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) goes upcourt past Minnesota Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell (0) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

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 Friday, Dec. 16:

TOP PLAY

The play: College football, Cure Bowl, UTSA-Troy OVER 56½

The odds/bet: -110 ($33 to win $30)

The book: Caesars Sportsbook

Time/TV: 3 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: You probably didn’t spend a ton of time watching these teams this season, but they’re both in the top 25, and this might be the best bowl matchup of the opening weekend.

Likewise, UTSA quarterback Frank Harris might be the best player you’ve never heard of in college football. He passed for 3,865 yards (sixth in the nation), 31 touchdowns (tied for ninth) and just seven interceptions in a pass-happy offense.

Troy’s passing defense is robust (No. 9 nationally in yards allowed per attempt), but the Trojans haven’t seen an attack like this that also includes star receiver Zakhari Franklin (1,100 yards, 14 touchdowns). The Roadrunners are, however, without running back Brenden Brady — which means two things: More passing and more carries for Conference USA freshman of the year Kevorian Barnes, who averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

Troy hasn’t been in a lot of shootouts this year, but it is a better passing team than a rushing team — which coincides with UTSA’s weak passing defense. There’s definite shootout potential here as we get bowl season underway.

AND THE THUNDER ROLLS…

The play: NBA: Thunder -2.5 over Timberwolves

The odds/bet: -110 ($11 to win $10)

The book: Caesars Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8 p.m. (NBA League Pass)

Our take: This is a spot play, where you’ve got one team that’s been home since Monday and has played just one game since against a Minnesota team that is finishing a long five-game road trip that has brought it from Utah to Portland to Los Angeles and now to Oklahoma City.

What’s more, the Timberwolves have struggled this year, especially lately, going 2-4 in December. That includes a 135-128 loss to OKC at home on Dec. 3 in which Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points and Rudy Gobert was ejected.

The Gobert experiment hasn’t worked out well so far in Minnesota, and in this tough spot, look for the better-than-expected Thunder to extend the Wolves’ misery.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

NFL: Seahawks +3.5 over 49ers (LOST $36)

NBA: Suns -5.5 at Clippers (WON $10)

Thursday’s profit/loss: -$26 (1-1)

Total for the week: -$53 (4-4)

Total for December: -$121.50 (13-17)

Total for 2022: +$250.90 (327-347)

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, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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