College basketball’s SEC showdown and Genesis Invitational pick: Best bets for Feb. 15

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Tennessee guard Zakai Zeigler (5) reacts after a shot by guard Tyreke Key (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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 Wednesday, Feb. 15:

TOP PLAY

The play: Men’s college basketball: Tennessee -2.5 over Alabama

The odds: -120

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Our take: Tennessee coach Rick Barnes is going to earn his money this week. The Volunteers entered last week ranked No. 6 but suffered a buzzer-beater loss at Vanderbilt last Wednesday — and then suffered ANOTHER buzzer-beater loss to Missouri, this time at home, on Saturday.

Barnes will have to get his team over that double-whammy quickly, because newly christened No. 1 Alabama is coming to town (a road trip to contenders Kentucky and Texas A&M will complete a really difficult portion of the schedule). But there’s a good chance that happens.

These teams are extremely similar, both forcing opponents to take tough shots, mostly from two-point range. One relative weakness for both is getting to the free-throw line, though Tennessee did a good job of it Saturday against Missouri. At home, you’d expect the Volunteers to get the benefit of a few whistles, and they’re by far the more desperate team here.

As for betting against a No. 1 team as an underdog? Well, it’s happening more often. After three seasons with one total instance of a top-ranked team being a dog, this is our fourth this year. In the previous three instances, No. 1 went 1-2.

GENESIS INVITATIONAL TOP 10

The play: PGA Genesis Invitational, Justin Thomas to finish top 10

The odds: +170

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: Thursday tee time 3:04 p.m. (ESPN+/Golf Channel on Thursday/Friday, Golf Channel/CBS on Saturday/Sunday)

Our take: One of golf’s top non-major events takes place in Los Angeles this week, and it’s already made big headlines this week with the return of Tigers Woods. That’s great and will be fun to watch, but the truth is Tiger doesn’t offer any betting value this week. He’s extremely unlikely to win, and while a +200 bet for him to make the cut is somewhat tempting, we just don’t know what type of form he’ll be in with debilitating leg and back injuries.

That said, we’re going to turn to one of his playing partners for the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday. Justin Thomas has always loved playing with Tiger, and this uneven course at Riviera Country Club is made for his strong iron and short game. Thomas finished third at the Phoenix Open last week and is rounding into the type of form that saw him win The Players Championship in 2021 and the PGA Championship last season.

It’s also worth a dabble on Thomas to win the tournament at +1600, but with Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and most of the world’s other top players in the field, that’s more of a speculation play. We’ll stick with a top 10 at plus money.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Tuesday’s best bets

  • NBA: Raptors (-7) over Magic (WON)
  • NBA: Warriors (+8½) over Clippers (LOST)

Tuesday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 2-2

Total for February: 12-15

Total for 2023: 37-49

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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