It's Friday, and there's no NBA tonight. That's good news, in my opinion, because the NBA and I need to take a little time apart. Don't worry, we aren't getting a divorce, but we've been spending too much time around one another lately, and we need just to find ourselves for a few days.
Or maybe I'm just mad at the NBA and need space. In last night's letter, we took the Pelicans at home against Miami because both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were questionable to play. The Pelicans' injury report was clear. Then, shortly before game time, it was announced that Butler would play, and oh, by the way, the Pelicans will be without both Zion Williamson and J.J. Redick. Zion suddenly came down with a toe injury.
But that wasn't all! I also had Paul George in roughly 85% of my DFS lineups on Thursday night, only to have the Clippers announce that George was going to miss Thursday night's game with dizziness after lineups had locked. So I couldn't replace him.
So, a reminder for myself and you for next year: stay as far away from the NBA as possible on the last night before the All-Star break. Players tend to come down with mysterious injuries at the last minute.
- An NFL Free Agent Mock Draft. That's some SEO samurai stuff right there.
- Our Fantasy Baseball Today Draft Guide is out, so read it unless you don't want to get smarter.
- Bookmark this page. It's that Bracketology time of year.
- Which teams make the most sense for Blake Griffin?
- New Tennessee coach Josh Heupel still carries a large chip on his shoulder.
Now let's see what this night without the NBA has in store for us.
All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
Boston College at Miami, 6 p.m. | TV: ACC Network
The Pick: Boston College +4 (-110): Our first night without the NBA, and we find ourselves betting a bad ACC game. But that's why Leonardo da Vinci invented gambling! To make lackluster sporting events more exciting! Seriously, it's been a down year for both of these teams. Miami has been hit hard by injuries and comes into tonight's game at 7-16. Boston College has dealt with injuries of its own, and Wynston Tabbs leaving after 12 games. It's only 4-14.
Neither team has much to play for other than pride.
As for the matchup, I think the Canes are getting a little too much respect from this line. Miami has a better record, but I'm not sure it's the better team or markedly better. KenPom rates Boston College higher, and my numbers have these teams at about even. So if I'm getting four points with the Eagles, I'm taking them. It doesn't hurt my confidence that BC beat Miami 84-62 earlier this season, either. Now, BC shot 51.4% from three that game while Miami went 2-for-16, so I wouldn't expect another 22-point win tonight, but this is likely to be a close game. Those four points will be valuable.
Key Trend: Miami is 1-4 ATS in its last five as a favorite at home.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model is expecting a close game tonight as well, but where does it find the most value?
💰 The Picks
🏀 College Basketball
UC Irvine at Long Beach State, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN3
The Pick: Under 144 (-110) -- Bad ACC basketball and Big West basketball? The Letter is getting into some degenerate stuff tonight! Anyway, as for this game, it can be somewhat terrifying taking an under in a Long Beach State game. The Beach moves quickly on offense, and it plays little to no defense, which can lead to back-and-forth, high-scoring affairs. At least, it would if Long Beach State was any good on offense. It might move quickly, but it is not efficient!
UC Irvine is the more efficient offense, and it moves much slower. That said, it's still not a good offense, as the Anteaters lead with their defense. And it's that defense that I think will lead the Anteaters tonight and keep this score down. I'm thrilled to take this under at anything from 140 or higher, so to get it at 144 is fine by me.
Key Trend: The under is 6-2 following Irvine's last eight wins.
⚽ Premier League
Manchester City vs. Manchester United, Sunday, 11:30 a.m. | TV: NBCSN
The Pick: Manchester City (-210) -- Manchester City is Manchester City. It is amazing, and it has wrapped up the Premier League already. Still, as incredible as this team is, it's considerably better when playing at home. It has an expected goals differential (xGD) of +1.33 at home compared to +1.01 on the road. Now, that +1.01 on the road is better than any other Premier League team does anywhere, but that's still a large gap for City's home/away splits. And that's one reason why I just can't go any other direction with this pick other than City, even if the juice is heavy.
Manchester United is just entirely too dependent on Bruno Fernandes for me to give it a realistic chance of picking up a point in this match. That United is in second place is a testament to how superb Fernandes has been this season, but he's not going to be able to take City down on his own. And, to be honest, United's recent form hasn't done much to inspire confidence. Not only have they drawn their last three matches, but they've been scoreless draws. Good luck keeping City from scoring.
Key Trend: Man City has won 21 straight matches.
⚽ La Liga
Atlético Madrid vs. Real Madrid, Sunday, 10:15 a.m. | TV: beIN Sports
The Pick: Real Madrid (+180) -- We took out a future on Real Madrid to win La Liga in this newsletter a couple of weeks ago. Rooting for that bet is not impacting this pick, but the reasons I made the bet apply here. This iteration of Real Madrid is not the Galáticos Madrid, nor is it the more recent Ronaldo-led versions. But it very well could be the best team in Spain at the moment!
Atlético got off to a great start and is still in control of the league table, but recent play has been concerning. It might've beaten Villarreal 2-0 last weekend, but xG showed Atléti losing that match 1.3-0.5. Atlético's attack has dried up a bit in recent weeks, and that's concerning. The good news is they've still been solid defensively, but I think there's some bad timing at play here. In Real Madrid's Champions League match against Atalanta, it faced a team that was down to 10 men for an hour, and it had trouble breaking through for what would prove to be the match-winning goal. Well, Real will face a similar defensive setup from Atléti this weekend. It's not crazy to think Real put in some extra time in training preparing for it, given the failures against Atalanta.
Key Trend: Real Madrid has won three straight against Atlético.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Mike Barner, who is 35-23 with his last 58 against-the-spread picks in the NBA, has released his pick for Sunday's 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
🏀 Friday Night College Basketball Parlay
A four-team money line parlay paying +136.