Pause, reflect and bet.
That is the game plan for New Jersey sports betting fans as they head into the winter wagering landscape.
Amid the Super Bowl hangover, futures betting looms with value in:
All three sports launch their finishing kicks prior to the playoffs, making this an excellent time to consider futures wagers. Some teams beginning to gain steam remain at bargain prices.
Odds will slowly diminish as seasons conclude. Watching a hot team go down on the odds board will also coincide with winning ways. Seeing the respect teams garner in futures will also help individual game handicapping.
For many bettors, this is a time to put one eye on individual games and another on championship status.
Here’s an overview.
NBA: There are three … and then the rest
FanDuel Sportsbook lists the following teams as its February favorites to capture the NBA Championship in June:
- Milwaukee Bucks (+190)
- Los Angeles Clippers (+300)
- Los Angeles Lakers (+300)
The Boston Celtics are 14-1 while the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers are 17-1. The Sixers have been fading, especially on the road. The Miami Heat stands at 23-1, a nice price for a good team.
Consider the clairvoyance of making a stab at one of these teams here.
The Celtics are clicking at .700 ball. This shows how well the 43-7 Bucks, 38-11 Lakers and 36-15 Clippers were playing in early February. The Denver Nuggets, at 36-16, are 25-1. That’s a sweet spot under the radar.
DraftKings Sportsbook crowns the Lakers as a projected NBA champ at +275. The Bucks are +300, the Rockets at 16-1 and the Celtics and Heat command 20-1 respect.
William Hill Sportsbook also recognizes the big three of the Lakers, Clippers and the Bucks in a range of +260-300. It gives more perceived clout to the Rockets at 9-1, Sixers at 10-1 and the Utah Jazz at 16-1.
SugarHouse Sportsbook echoes the same sentiment as the other NJ sportsbooks in the range of +275-333, with the Lakers viewed as the top team.
College hoops: Pre-March Madness fervor
It’s early. Way early. Still about five weeks from March Madness.
That’s why strong values exist for college basketball futures. FanDuel Sportsbook was the first to post its odds on the eventual champion.
The “chalk” is still a lucrative 10-1 play if one chooses Baylor, which entered February as the top team in the country. Gonzaga and Kansas share a similar 10-1 spotlight, while Duke and Louisville return 12-1.
Above 20-1 are:
- Michigan State
And lo and behold, who is sitting at No. 26? San Diego State, the only unbeaten team in the nationally-ranked circuit. The belief is that three months of basketball excellence won’t be enough and that this team will crumble at the Big Dance.
And that’s why this is a good time to speculate, at least on conference champions, before one’s longshot hunch becomes the choice of the majority.
Baylor is at -125 to win the Atlantic 10 championship, according to SugarHouse Sportsbook. VCU is second at +275.
DraftKings has some nicely-priced conference futures to dive into.
Villanova is favored in the Big East, but only at +255, a reasonable return. Butler and Marquette are next in line at +350.
The Big 10 fashions Michigan State at +300 and Maryland +450, which suggests a wide-open race.
Baylor, Gonzaga, and Kansas lead the William Hill online sportsbook national championship board at 10-1.
NHL: Defense wins championships
Play gets tighter and tighter down the stretch and in the playoffs. Teams gamble less and back-check more. One-goal leads in the third period are protected like gold.
Two-thirds of the way through the season, the teams allowing the least goals are:
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Dallas Stars
- New York Islanders
- Boston Bruins
- Pittsburgh Penguins
All yielded between 135 and 141 goals and would pay nicely as an eventual champion.
At DraftKings, Boston is 9-1, Pittsburgh is 11-1, Dallas is 14-1, the Islanders are 23-1 and the Blue Jackets a stunning 40-1.
That price is high because this is a team that wasn’t supposed to make the playoffs after losing top-rated goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to the Florida Panthers.
But under the radar, a star emerged.
Who is Elvis Merzlikins? Probably the best goalie in hockey for the past month and a half. He is 11-2 with 1.62 goals against average; a .951 save percentage and four shutouts.
Bettors have ridden Merzlikins and the Blue Jackets, who have 1.72 goals against average for 25 games. That’s nearly a third of the season with terrific defense. He has ignited the Blue Jackets, who remain just under the betting radar.
The odds are high because the Blue Jackets just recently became a team that would make the playoffs if the season ended now. Odds indicate the sharp bettors believe they can’t keep it up. But that’s nonetheless the highest value on the board for a team that was 29-16 on Feb. 6.
NHL’s final push at NJ sportsbooks
There’s another theory about teams with the highest goal differentials going far in the playoffs.
That would mean Boston and Tampa Bay with +45, the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche at + 37 and the defending Cup champion St. Louis Blues at+ 21. All are between 9-1 and 10-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup.
St. Louis upheld the concept of second-half surges carrying over into deep post-season success. The Blues were below .500 in early January and caught fire to win the Stanley Cup.
Keep an eye on the final 10 games of the season for perhaps a second round of future bets. Teams that finish strong usually make a good postseason run.
- Tampa Bay at 8-1
- Washington and Boston are 9-1
- Dallas is 14-1
William Hill lists the Capitals as the shortest price at 8-1. Notable numbers include the Philadelphia Flyers at 28-1.
SugarHouse lists Tampa Bay as the 7-1 chalk. It has Philadelphia at 32-1 and Pittsburgh at 11-1. The book took a substantial amount of action in October with the Penguins as a 20-1 choice.