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Sports To Bet On (Week of Feb 2, 2009)

Sports Betting Games to Bet on – Feb. 2 Edition

No letting up now. The NFL season might be almost over (don’t forget the Pro Bowl), but March Madness is nearly upon us, and we’re rushing headlong into the playoff stretch for both the NBA and NHL. If you’re one of the many who finally bought a big-screen television for the Super Bowl, you will love watching basketball and hockey in HDTV. It might even improve your handicapping. But don’t take our word for it; check out this week’s Top 5 betting games on the tube and see for yourself. All times are Eastern, and updated lines are available at sports.bodog.com.

1. NBA: L.A. Lakers at Boston (Thursday, 8:00 p.m.)

Here’s a good place to start. The unending rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics continues Thursday at the Garden. This is their second meeting of the year and first since Christmas Day, when Los Angeles won 92-83 as a 2-point home chalk. The Celtics went off the rails for a while after that, losing six of their next eight before getting back on track at 11-0 SU and 9-2 ATS. The Lakers are 13-4 SU and 10-7 ATS since putting the boots to Boston, but starting center Andrew Bynum suffered a sprained knee Saturday against Memphis. Coach Phil Jackson believes Bynum will be out for “quite a while.”

2. NCAAB: Notre Dame at UCLA (Saturday, 1:00 p.m.)

Nobody’s pulled in more action than the Bruins this year, even though at 17-4 SU and 10-10 ATS, there isn’t a lot going on for UCLA right now from a handicapping standpoint. What used to be a dominant defensive team inside is now relying on the brilliant two-way play of point guard Darren Collison. As for the Fighting Irish (12-8 SU, 4-10 ATS), they’ve been an outstanding fade candidate with five straight losses SU and ATS. The betting public is going to realize at some point how bad this team’s defense is.

3. NBA: Cleveland at N.Y. Knicks (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.)

The Cavs are the most popular team to bet on these days, which makes perfect sense at 36-9 SU and 30-15 ATS. However, they may have topped out in value at 6-3 SU and 4-5 ATS in their last nine. The improving Knicks (21-25 SU, 27-19 ATS) are also pulling in decent action as a large-market team on a healthy 8-3 SU (9-2 ATS) run to respectability. New York is finally getting a taste of what first-round pick Danilo Gallinari can do; the 6-foot-10 small forward is only playing about 15 minutes per game off the bench, but per 40 minutes, Gallinari is good for 18.1 points and 5.5 rebounds.

4. NHL: Detroit at Pittsburgh (Sunday, 12:30 p.m.)

Ratings for The NHL on NBC have steadily picked up since the lockout, in part because NBC does a very good job of marketing the most popular teams – they have flex games at their disposal, too, just like their NFL deal. Sunday’s first of three games is a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup final. Both the Red Wings and Penguins see considerable action, but Detroit is the only one converting at 31-11-7. The Pens have spent all year short-handed with injuries and are currently out of playoff position at 24-22-5. The Wings are also down a few good men – defenseman Brad Stuart (ribs) will miss this game; forwards Tomas Holmstrom (groin) and Henrik Zetterberg (back) are day-to-day.

5. NFL: Pro Bowl – AFC vs. NFC (Sunday, 6:00 p.m.)

This is the last Pro Bowl planned for Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium – moving forward, it’ll be at the Super Bowl host site the week before the big game. There are some small rules changes to keep the game less violent, and the players tend to take it easy as well, as you would expect for an exhibition contest. The AFC and NFC are tied at 19 wins apiece since the current format began in 1971; the teams have exchanged victories over the past six seasons, with the NFC winning 42-30 last year as a 3-point underdog.

Honorable Mentions

NBA: L.A. Lakers at Cleveland (Sunday, 3:30 p.m.)
NCAAB: Duke at Clemson (Wednesday, 9:00 p.m.) 
NHL: Washington at New Jersey (Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.) 
Soccer: Manchester United at West Ham (Sunday, 11:00 a.m.) 
Golf: Buick Invitational (final round coverage starts Sunday at 3:00 p.m.)



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