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What the heck is going on in San Antonio? The most boringly reliable franchise in all of sports is struggling and full of drama. They are free falling. If the playoffs started now they would not have home-court advantage in the first round, and they sit just 2.5 games out of ninth. They are only a game and a half out of third, so all is not yet lost, but they are certainly not playing like they are a threat to climb up the standings.
So, what’s going on down by the Alamo? And what does it mean for bettors? Here are four factors to consider when pondering those questions:
Kawhi Leonard: Obviously, this is the biggest story on the team. By far. So, what is going on with the team’s superstar? I don’t have any clue, and I don’t suspect anyone truly does. He has played only nine games this year, and he didn’t look right when he did play. He’s fighting with his shoe sponsor. He might be fighting with his team, too, but we can’t get a straight story about that. Sometimes it seems like him and his coach aren’t getting along. Sometimes it seems like he wants to be anywhere but San Antonio, but it still seems hard to believe that that is true. He has been cleared to play by the medical staff, but he doesn’t want to come back – or maybe he does. He’s fine – or maybe he’s looking for another opinion on what’s going on.
It all makes no sense, and the drama is so contrary to what the Spurs have been throughout the Popovich era that it is disorienting. It’s all so raw, and it feels out of control. It feels like all parties need to take a step back, realize what they have and where they are at, and come at it all fresh. Leonard may or may not come back, and he may or may not be any good this year when he does return. But, as we will talk about soon, it doesn’t really matter. Him at less than 100 percent isn’t likely to be enough to beat the Warriors or Rockets. Heck, him at 100 percent isn’t enough to do that. So, player and team will be best served to look towards their futures and making sure that it works out for everyone.
The schedule: Things have not been good for a long time, and they aren’t getting much help from the schedule to get things back on track. Tonight they have to travel to Golden State , which obviously isn’t easy. Counting that game, they have 18 games left, and 15 are against teams in the playoffs or in a real playoff race – including two each against the Warriors and Rockets. This team hasn’t been playing right now like they are good enough to beat playoff teams – they have dropped seven of their last eight against playoff contenders. They are only 3-8 in the last 11 games, and it’s not going to be easy to shake off that funk against this slate.
Does it really matter?: It is fascinating to see the wheels fall off this team right now because they have been so boring and stable for so long. But when you really look at the situation it all doesn’t really matter that much. Coach Pop will be fine – he’s not going anywhere until he wants to. Leonard’s fate isn’t going to be decided by how this season turns out. And this team isn’t going to beat the Rockets or Warriors this year regardless. So that means that they were, at best, winning one playoff series.
If they keep falling and wind up facing one of those teams in the first round it just means that their playoff run ends sooner – but in exactly the same way we all know it is going to end. So, all this team can do is to accept that the season is lost and start figuring out how their mojo can be found again in time for next year.
And all you need to do is look at the futures odds to see where this team is really at. They are tied with the Thunder as the third choice to win the West at BetOnline . But they are at +2000, while Houston is at +200 and Golden State is at -225. They are just barely relevant.
Betting performance: The last several years the Spurs have been stable – not exciting or hugely productive but also not particularly costly. They typically at least break-even. And despite the drama this year they are doing pretty much the same, they sit at 32-30-2 ATS, which is just a hair below a break-even level. Considering their struggles – at least relative to what we have come to expect from them – that’s not too bad. Not surprisingly, things have gotten worse lately – over that 3-8 stretch the team has gone 4-7 ATS.
For most people, conference tournaments are just a distraction while we wait for what really matters – the setting of the brackets and the start of March Madness. Smart bettors know, though, that watching conference tournaments can yield all sorts of valuable information about how ready teams are to shine in the main event. The big storylines in conference tournaments are obvious – top seeds, star players, and so on. Here, though, are three somewhat more under-the-radar storylines worth keeping an eye on this year:
Distraction factors: There has been more talk in recent weeks surrounding college basketball about FBI investigations and the future of coaches and programs than there has been about play on the court. Rick Pitino was the first very high-profile casualty of this attention to past sins, and all indications that he won’t be alone by the time things are over.
Arizona’s Sean Miller has had to serve a one-game suspension already, and many coaches have been subjected to uncomfortable lines of questioning. Basically, if you are a guy who has had high-level success in the last decade or more and your name isn’t John Beilein then at least some people are assuming you are dirty.
Some teams are facing more scrutiny than others. Michigan State, for example, has been at the heart of the negativity as these issues have coupled with the nasty Larry Nassar situation at the school, and a number of questions about sexual improprieties that have come up around the program. Coach Izzo is scrambling, and it seemed to have an impact in their play on the court. Playing in the world’s largest media market in New York for the Big Ten Tournament, Izzo faced a lot of questioning, and his Spartans were rolled over by the Wolverines in the semifinal. Michigan State had already lost to Michigan once, so it wasn’t an impossible upset, but you have to think that distraction for the endless questions played a factor in the result.
So now, as we head into the main events of the coming week when most of the tournaments happen, we have to wonder if these questions and added scrutiny will have an impact. An obvious target would be Arizona. The Pac-12 is a mess, so the Wildcats, on paper, should cruise through this tournament without breaking a sweat. Will a program under attack rally together or become tentative, though? Many others will also face heightened questioning – Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and so on. We want to pay attention to what impact this has on those teams now, because you can be sure the attention and the questions will be even more intense next week when the real tournament starts.
Serious upstarts: The UConn Huskies came into 2011 Big East Tournament as the ninth seed and a team likely to miss the NCAA Tournament. They won five games in five days, including a narrow victory over top seed Pittsburgh, ranked third in the country at the time, to win the Big East crown and earn a guaranteed tournament bid. And then they ran all the way into National Championship Game, stifling Butler defensively and cutting down the nets. It was a legendary run and provided proof that teams only need to be hot at the right time.
It doesn’t always end in fairy tale fashion like that, though.
In 2006 Syracuse famously rolled through the Big East, also as ninth seed, but then lost in the first round of the tournament. They were doomed from the start, though, as Gerry McNamara had led them through the Big East but was hobbled by a leg injury in the main event.
Regardless, while most of the conference tournaments will be quite chalky, there will be a few surprises – from the mild ones like Michigan winning their second straight Big Ten title as a fifth seed to some that are truly shocking. In each case the public attention will be focused on the winning teams more heading into the NCAA Tournament than it would otherwise have been. It is important, then, that we are paying close attention to get a sense of what the future holds is more like UConn or Syracuse after a shocking win.
A-10: The Atlantic 10 doesn’t get as much attention as it used to since Butler and Xavier left for the Big East. There is some darned good basketball being played there, though, and this year it is perhaps the most important conference tournament for bettors to keep an eye on.
Rhode Island won the regular season and is a lock to be in the NCAA Tournament field regardless of what happens here. St. Bonaventure is rolling and is in decent shape to make the field, too – they have a RPI of 21, and only one team that high has ever missed making the field. They probably have a bit of work to do.
Those two are the class of the field, but Davidson can be dangerous – they won 13 conference games and took the Bonnies to triple overtime last week. And there are several other decent teams that could get hot at the right time, too. This has the potential to be a three-bid conference if everything plays out in a perfect way – St. Bonaventure loses to an upstart in the final. And, at the very least, those top two teams are not ones that anyone would be eager to face in the Big Dance. There will be some good basketball to watch here and potentially some good betting lessons to learn, too.
There are essential variables that you need to factor in if you want to become successful in your sports investing activity. Having the best sports handicapping service is one of the core elements that you need to cover if you want to increase your chances of winning and attain a higher ROI. When we talk about sports investing we are not only referring to random picking of football teams and games to bet on. For the most part of the activity, a true blue sports bettor will use a solid football betting system or strategy while considering the prevailing betting odds. Most of these wagering systems are based on a specific form of rating scheme where a particular football team is assigned a numerical value based on certain critical parameters such as league ranking, recent team performance, and home advantage.
If you are engaging in sports investing for the first time, it is a must that you first familiarize yourself with the dynamics and nuances of the games as well as the rules of the sport before you can start developing a solid football betting system or strategy. This task can be easily completed if you have prior knowledge or background on the sport as a tactician, informed spectator or even as a player. If it is your first time to get involved in this form of sport, it is best that you watch and carefully analyze collegiate and pro league matches so that you will learn how the games are being played.
It is true that you cannot possibly find a specific football betting system that offers a 100% winning clip. Further, these wagering systems are not created equal. You will find a wagering system that has a much better winning clip than the rest. In addition to this basic fact about wagering systems, you must also remember that a particular system or strategy that worked perfectly well in a specific football season may turn out to be a total failure in the current season. For instance, pro league football punters may analyze the team standings in forecasting the outcome of the matches. One bettor may adopt a specific football betting system that states that in situations where the home team is about 3 or more spots higher than the opposing team, then the home team will most likely come out the winner.
This betting option can be correct over the course of 3 seasons. However, this betting strategy should not be taken in absolute terms. The more seasoned sports bettors will also have to take into account goal difference, player on the injured list and current team form. These variables are considered when analyzing the betting odds that are being presented on a particular matchup.