Kornegay’s Korner: On the Verge of Madness
March 1, 2023
“This year, I would recommend taking a longer shot that appeals to you.”
And with that simple piece of advice from SuperBook Chief Oddsmaker Jay Kornegay, let the Madness of March begin.
In college football, such words would rarely be spoken. But in men’s basketball, not only do the blue bloods tend to come in and out of the fray, there are no guarantees once the NCAA Tournament begins. Plus, we’ve still got conference tournaments to keep an eye on. This week, many of the mid- and low-majors will crown conference a champ. Next week, the big boys take flight.
“The Big 12 is wide open and anyone can win that tourney,” says Kornegay of the conference that currently fields five top-25 teams, four of which most consider locks for the tournament. “The Big Ten is also interesting. Purdue will be the favorite, but I don’t trust them one bit. With that said, a few teams could win that one and you could catch a solid price with the winner.”
Whether one is filling out a bracket, looking for moneyline upsets in the early rounds or putting money on tournament futures, opportunity abounds in the early days of March.
“I personally like to pick upsets but not too many out of the gate,” says Kornegay. “I look for opportunities during the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. By that time, you have filtered out some of the Cinderellas and you’re down to teams that can actually win it.”
Notice the “s” that follows “team.” In the modern landscape of college hoops, that’s not just hyperbole.
“There are so many to pick from this year. It’s so wide open,” suggests Kornegay, when asked if anyone outside of the top-5, top-10 teams have a shot. “Teams like Kentucky – now – UConn, Texas, TCU all have a chance. I listed a small sample and probably could list a dozen more. Once the bracket comes out there might be even more opportunities.”
Interestingly, the price on futures doesn’t change dramatically once the bracket is released, or sometimes even after conference tournaments. Kornegay suggests that often times value can be found on solid teams that get upset in their conference tournaments; his oddsmaking crew certainly looks at the path to a national title and adjusts accordingly, but still, the prices don’t change much. If there’s a team and a price that feels right today, go ahead and add it to the shopping cart.
The only sure thing in March is that it will be mad. Just how we like it.
Three bets worth considering on a Wednesday night
Toronto Maple Leafs at Edmonton Oilers
Rogers Place – Edmonton, AB
8:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Toronto -130
There are few bizarre tidbits at play in this one. Both provide a hint where to lean tonight in Edmonton.
First, it’s the fact that the road team is 10-4 in the last 14 meetings between the two teams. That’s a large sample size. And it’s extremely lopsided.
Second, Edmonton is better on the road this season than they are at home. The Oilers are only 14-12-5 at Rogers Place, while they’ve gone 18-9-3 on the road.
Those two facts suggest that Toronto is the play here. But that’s not all.
The Maple Leafs have won five of their last six games. They’re 7-3 in their last 10. Meanwhile, the Oilers have dropped two in a row.
Toronto has dominated of late in Edmonton. They’ve won the last four times they’ve played at Rogers Place, dating back to last season.
The favorite is 20-8 in the last 28 games between the Maple Leafs and Oilers. There’s no reason that trend won’t continue. Roll with the hot team tonight.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Toronto M/L (-130)
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
TD Garden – Boston, MA
7:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Boston -5.5
This is a marquee matchup between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Boston currently sits in the No. 2 seed, just a half game back of Milwaukee. Meanwhile, Cleveland is sitting in fourth, only two games back of Philadelphia.
It’s also a showdown between two of the best scorers in the NBA. Jayson Tatum powers the Celtics, averaging 30.1 points per game. On the other side, Donovan Mitchell is pouring in 27.2 points per game for the Cavaliers.
So far this season, the games between these two teams have been fantastic. Both have gone to overtime, with Cleveland coming out on top in both instances.
The Cavs appear to be back on track after a mini-slump in late February. They blew out Toronto on Sunday night, winning 118-93.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are coming off a loss. They fell 109-94 on Monday night in New York against the Knicks.
Two good teams. Two previous overtime games. Expect another close one. Take the Cavs and the points.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Cleveland +5.5 (-110)
New Jersey Devils at Colorado Avalanche
Ball Arena – Denver, CO
9:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Colorado -130
Colorado is the hottest team in the NHL right now. The defending Stanley Cup champions have won six in a row, rocketing up the standings. Once thought to be at risk of not making the postseason, the Avs are now just two points behind the Stars for first place in the Central Division and three points behind Vegas and Los Angeles for the top seed in the West.
Thus, it would make sense to go with the Avs in this one. That’s where the numbers seem to point.
Not so fast, however. One of the craziest stats of the season suggests otherwise.
New Jersey is 21-4-3 on the road this season. Yep, that’s not a typo. The Devils have racked up 45 points away from home so far in 2022-23.
That would be a remarkable home record for a team. To do it on the road is just staggering.
They’ll have a great chance to pad those numbers tonight. They’ll face a Colorado team that has to be running out of gas.
The Avs have been playing at a playoff level for a month, as they’ve tried to claw their way back into contention. This will be their fourth game in six nights.
As odd as it sounds, take the visiting team tonight. That’s where the sneaky value lies.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: New Jersey M/L (+115)
Today’s best packaged deal
- Phoenix Suns -500
- New York Knicks -300
- Memphis Grizzlies – 450
There are a lot of big favorites on the board tonight, so take the three best teams in the league and stick them together. These are favorable matchups across the board against bottom-feeder teams. The Grizzlies get the Rockets on the second night of a back-to-back, the Suns get Kevin Durant in the lineup and the Knicks are red hot.
Jason Schelfsky’s Three-Leg Parlay = -105
Around the Nation
Things we’ve learned this week
The Lakers are Toast – Currently, Los Angeles is sitting at 29-33, 12th in the Western Conference. They’re a game behind New Orleans for the final spot in the play-in tournament. That seems doable, but not considering what happened this weekend. LeBron James injured his foot and is out indefinitely. The league’s all-time leading scorer will be evaluated in two to three weeks, with a possible return impacted by where the Lakers are in the standings. They’ll be out of it by then.
Next Season is Here – The new NFL league year doesn’t officially begin until March 15, but for all intents and purposes, the page has already turned from 2022 to ’23. The Scouting Combine is underway, as teams begin looking for players to add to their roster. But the gathering in Indianapolis is much more. This is where teams make decisions about franchise tags, free agents are discussed and trades are negotiated. Super Bowl LVII is in the rearview mirror. We’re on to 2023.