College World Series, LSU-Wake Forest pick and a pitching prop: Best Bets for June 22

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LSU's Cade Beloso celebrates as he approaches home plate after hitting a three-run home run against Wake Forest during the third inning of a baseball game at the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, June 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

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 Thursday, June 22:

TOP PLAY

The play: College World Series, Paul Skenes UNDER 11.5 strikeouts

The odds: -112

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: Paul Skenes is the best pitcher in college baseball. All of the talk these last few days has been about how opposing teams — namely Tennessee and Wake Forest — cannot allow LSU to survive long enough for Skenes to take the bump again. Well, here we sit on Thursday afternoon.

While LSU head coach Jay Johnson has not officially confirmed Skenes will start for the Tigers, it’s the worst-kept secret in America. The same goes for the Demon Deacons starting their ace, Rhett Lowder. Neither coach can afford to look ahead to a potential three-game series with Florida, not against an opponent of this caliber.

Skenes dominated in his College World Series debut against the Volunteers. He punched out 12 in his nearly eight innings of work. This has led to oddsmakers setting an astronomically high strikeout total.

The reality is Skenes has yet to pitch on four days’ rest, which is the typical rest period for Major League pitchers. He will likely have his dominant stuff this evening in front of a sold-out crowd in Omaha. However, there are questions about whether he will give LSU enough length to rack up 12 or more strikeouts given he’s on short rest.

We’re going to err on the side of caution here and say Skenes comes up just shy of the oddsmakers’ projection.

THE TIGERS COMPLETE THE COMEBACK

The play: College World Series, LSU over Wake Forest

The odds: -160

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Our take: Survive and advance. This phrase, made legendary by the late Jim Valvano, has been the rallying cry of countless teams over the last few decades. It’s exactly what LSU has done over the last few days after it suffered a 3-2 defeat against Wake Forest to pick up its first loss in Omaha.

The Tigers have won back-to-back elimination games — with a makeshift pitching staff, might I add — in convincing fashion over Tennessee and the Demon Deacons. Now, nine innings stand between LSU and a rematch of the 2017 College World Series final against Florida.

All the Tigers asked for was a shot. They’ve now made it back to this stage where they will hand the ball off to the best pitcher in the country in a do-or-die rubber match. Is anyone really going to bet against LSU? Skenes’ squad opened up as the favorite after a 5-2 win on Wednesday night and the money has flown in, resulting in the Tigers’ line being heavily juiced.

Nobody knows quite what Thursday has in store for supporters on both sides of the aisle. That being said, it’d be silly to bet on LSU to cover a -1.5 run line with aces going for both squads. Therefore, we’ll ride with the Tigers to win outright considering they’ve been the all-around better team up to this point.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Wednesday’s best bets

College World Series: LSU-Wake Forest over 9 runs scored (LOST $31.50)

Travelers Championship: Tommy Fleetwood to finish in the top 20 (PENDING)

Wednesday’s profit/loss: -$31.50 (0-1, 1 pending)

Total for the week: -$31.50 (2-3, 1 pending)

Total for June: -$161.30 (19-22, 1 pending)

Total for 2023: -$495.60 (139-156, 1 pending)

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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