In The Game Day’s new series The Ticket, Adam Kramer breaks down the previous week’s betting action, including Jordan Spieth’s struggles at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament, and Jan Blachowicz winning at UFC 259. Adam also looks ahead to the next few weeks sports betting and fantasy sports.
Greetings, all. Adam Kramer here.
If you’ve listened to The Game Day Podcast, this is not necessarily an introduction. (Also, if you haven’t now would be the time. I waste no time spamming you with content.)
I am thrilled to be writing a weekly column, which will focus on gambling across the full gauntlet of sports and events betting and fantasy. While my origins are college football and the NFL, I dabble in pretty much everything when it comes to sports betting.
The goal of The Ticket is to explore the highlights of each week through a gamblin’ lens. Looking forward to these a great deal.
And by all means, I welcome ideas.
Jan Blachowicz Wins At UFC 259, Jordan Spieth Frustrates Again
This is, quite simply, sports betting bliss. The stretch that we are currently on—eight weeks of wagering ecstasy—is stockpiled, diverse and full of opportunity. Sure, we don’t have football.
Well, sort of. The FCS is even providing that, which only adds to this magnificent buffet of wagering moments and quality sports-watching.
March, April and even May are delightful. If you weren’t aware of this by now, you’ve already missed out.
Please, I implore you to change that.
- In golf, we have THE PLAYERS on deck. (More on that in a moment.) The Masters at Augusta National is a month away. Even the PGA Championship, at spectacular Kiawah Island, will be here soon.
- Opening Day for baseball is closing in, and that’ll take us through fall. Heck, I’m even dabbling on some spring training betting action. (Of course I am.)
- The NBA is poised to take us through a fascinating second half. Hockey, too.
- While the NFL Draft isn’t necessarily a marquee gambling event yet, that is changing quickly. Plus, there will be betting opportunities coupled with future intrigue. Oh, and free agency approaches.
- UFC? It’s on fire. UFC 259 delivered, and we have another pay-per-view this month.
- And there’s college basketball. After missing out on the tournament last year, we are now closing in on March Madness. It’ll start with conference championships, which are happening now. And then the bracket and all of its possibilities will take over.
- Oh, and don’t forget about horse racing. Prep races are taking shape, and the Kentucky Derby will greet us in early May.
And that’s not all. While the part of the sporting calendar was demolished last spring due to COVID, we welcome its return with open arms. No matter your sport o’ choice, spring has something for everyone.
And it’s already started. Welcome to this most glorious stretch. Let the madness begin.
At the Window: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Before we look ahead to what’s to come this week, here’s a look at some of the highlights and lowlights from the week that was. I’ll share some of my individual wins and losses, and I’ll also highlight some noteworthy moments that stood out.
The Good: Underdog Triumph by Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259
A great card on paper delivered. I had Jan Blachowicz (+205) over Israel Adesanya in the main event. I thought the weight difference, which Adesanya didn’t shy away from, would be key. It was.
Blachowicz has to be one of the more underappreciated fighters in recent memory. Great fight. Good cash.
The Bad: Jordan Spieth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
I’m not sure there is a more agonizing golfer to bet on, largely because Spieth doesn’t compartmentalize his frustration. It flows out of him throughout each round.
I backed Spieth to win (28/1). He grabbed the lead. He hit a hole-in-one. Then, well, he did what he’s done lately and faltered on the weekend.
Betting on Spieth is entirely too stressful, although I will return to the well eventually.
The Ugly: Massive DQ in UFC 259
I’m not going to lie, Petr Yan’s illegal knee on Aljamain Sterling aided me financially. That knee, which ultimately led to Yan being disqualified, won me a bet I didn’t expect to win.
But that was a bizarre turn of events in a fight that Yan was dominating. If you had Yan (-110), you’re furious it didn’t cash. He was going to win.
If you had Sterling (-110), as I did, you take the gifts from the gambling gods when you can. They don’t come often.
What I’m Watching
College Basketball Galore
We are now less than a week from our bracket, although it’s easy to simply glide past a loaded week.
Don’t do this. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are some of the finest wagering days on the calendar.
I am a partial Big Ten homer, and I am fascinated to see how the conference plays out — especially on the heels of another Michigan loss on Sunday.
Tons of options. Tons of games. Cannot wait.
THE PLAYERS Championship
Remember this tournament? Last year, golfing’s epic clash at TPC Sawgrass was undone in real time by COVID-19.
I’m thrilled that it’s back. We know Brooks Koepka won’t play with a knee injury. We know Bryson DeChambeau will be a popular selection coming off a win.
I’m playing a few golfers. Picks to follow.
UFC Fight Night
Throughout the pandemic, the UFC has consistently put out excellent fight cards. While Saturday night’s card won’t match the buzz of 259, this has plenty of really interesting fights. The main event between Leon Edwards (finally) and Belal Muhammad is a pay-per-view-level fight. This event has a good undercard, as well.
What I’m Betting
(The answer is a lot of college basketball as lines come out. That will be largely my week overall. I’ll be sending out picks through my Twitter account. Be sure to follow along.
Belal Muhammad (+200) vs. Leon Edwards (UFC)
Edwards has fought twice since June of 2018. Muhammad is running it back after a win back in the middle of February. Edwards is obviously great, but the inactivity might be an issue. I love Muhammad at this value.
Tony Finau 33/1 & Hideki Matsuyama 25/1 (PGA THE PLAYER Championship)
I’m backing pure ball-striking at a course that rewards the art. Both golfers have game. Both have fallen flat, historically, in major moments. It just feels like it’s a matter of time for Finau to break through. Let’s hope it’s this week.
St. Louis Cardinals 25/1 (MLB)
It’ll be a busy month of future betting as we lean into baseball and navigate spring training. I see the Cardinals having great value because (a) the NL Central looks ripe for the taking and (b) the addition of Nolan Arenado should make this one of the most potent infields in baseball. Pitching remains a question, but I’ll gladly take the 25/1.
Ohio State 10/1 (CBB Big Ten Tournament)
The gauntlet that is the Big Ten tournament is loaded, although I think Ohio State has a decent draw despite not earning a bye on Wednesday. Four straight losses to close out the year is, well, suboptimal. But three out of the four were close games, and I could easily see a tournament recovery.
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