Kornegay’s Korner: Right Down the Middle

February 8, 2023

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Apologies Scott Norwood, that’s how this one is going to go.

Too soon?

Maybe, and indisputably an unnecessary cheap shot, as we’re not talking about field goals at all (Okay, for real… sorry Scott). Right down the middle is where Super Bowl LVII is headed… at the betting window.

“As the spread indicates, this is shaping up to be a tightly contested game. The early wagering has also indicated the general public is very much split down the middle at the wagering windows,” says SuperBook Sports Chief Oddsmaker Jay Kornegay. “Both teams have terrific fan bases, and they will be represented. These two teams also have appeal for the non-football fan. There’s plenty of story lines and many superstars to stir up interest.”

Just how a savvy oddsmaker like Kornegay likes it; just how a good sports fan likes it, too. Nobody wants a forgone conclusion, and this one certainly isn’t. Buckle in, America, Super Bowl LVII should be a good’n. And let’s not forget to get those bets in –no need to be scrambling instead of enjoying Chris Stapleton’s rendition of the National Anthem.

“Normally, once we open the Super Bowl line it’s like a jumping bean but settles in nicely after a couple of days. This year isn’t any different,” says Kornegay. “We went through our opening rush but then it hits a lull before the big weekend. But keep in mind, we expect 80-85% of the handle to come in the last two days.”

You’re on your own here, folks. However, if you do want to see a trend, if you are searching desperately for that bandwagon that everyone in the country is already on, look no further than Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. That’s where everybody seems to be leaning.

Kelce is currently sitting at 7-to-1 to score the game’s first touchdown.

“Travis Kelce is the big fan favorite. In the early going, we have more tickets on him that any other player to score the first touchdown,” Kornegay confirms. “We don’t expect that to change any time this week.”

Kornegay says the book keeps a close eye – and perhaps a rooting interest on a few others aside from the odds-on favorite. SuperBook’s early exposure, he says, can be found in A.J. Brown, Kenneth Gainwell and Jerick McKinnon.   

“Every year the ‘player to score the first touchdown’ prop is the most popular prop on the board,” he adds. “Why? It’s easy to understand and bettors are getting great odds. The low risk, high reward scenario is very appealing to most.”

Get read, sports fans. We’re closing in on the final 72 hours before America’s biggest unofficial national holiday.

Tonight’s Trio

Three bets worth considering on a Wednesday night

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Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics
TD Garden – Boston, MA
7:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Boston -4.5

This is a matchup of Eastern Conference titans. Boston is currently the No. 1 seed, while Philadelphia is sitting in the third spot, just 3.0 games back.

This should be a doozy, giving ESPN a great national TV game. Of course, that all depends on whether or not Joel Embiid plays.

If the MVP candidate is on the court, expect a battle. If not, it might be time to turn the channel.

Assuming Embiid is a go, the signs point in one direction in this one. The 76ers are 7-2 against the spread (ATS) in the last nine meetings between the two teams. Meanwhile, the Celtics are 0-5 ATS in their last five games playing on one day of rest; they won Monday night in Detroit.

Philly has won eight of their last 10, while the Celtics have hit a couple of bumpy patches of late. Take the points in this one.

Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Philadelphia +4.5 (-110)


© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat
Miami-Dade Arena – Miami, FL
7:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Miami -6.0

These two teams are going to grind it out. Indiana is a decent team offensively, but they’ll be held in check by Miami; the Heat have the second-best defense in the NBA in terms of points allowed. Throw in the fact that they’re also the league’s lowest-scoring team and this has all the makings of a slugfest.

Not surprisingly, the under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings between these two teams. A pattern has emerged.

But it’s not just when they play each other. The under is 5-0 in the Heat’s last five games at home. The under is 4-0 in the Pacers last four games. And the under is 6-0 in Indiana’s last six games when their opponent allowed 100 points or more in their previous game; Miami surrendered 123 their last time out.

The Heat will be looking to get back to their brand of basketball. They’ll clamp down from the opening tip. So hop all over the under.

Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Indiana/Miami under 223.0 (-110)


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Florida at (3) Alabama
Coleman Coliseum – Tuscaloosa, AL
9:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Alabama -9.0

Florida is walking into a hornet’s nest on Wednesday night. Alabama is No. 3 in the nation, boasting a 20-3 record; they’re also a perfect 11-0 at home.

Meanwhile, the Gators are just 13-10 on the season, going 3-4 on the road. That doesn’t add up to a good situation.

Florida’s road woes can be pinned on their inability to score away from Gainesville. They’re averaging just 59.2 points per game in their last six road games 

A lot of Bama’s success can be tied to their stingy defense. The Crimson Tide have held SEC opponents to 57.4 points per game at home this season. 

Alabama has been a stout team all season, consistently blowing out opponents. This game sets up well for them to limit a Florida team that struggles from the mid-range and beyond the arc.

The Tide will roll, but that’s not the best option on the board. Alabama holding Florida under 70.0 points is a great value.

Hoops Harlen’s pick: Florida under 70.0 points (-115)

Around the Nation

Things we’ve learned this week

A new name atop the leaderboard – In 1,560 career games, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 38,387 points during his illustrious career. For nearly four decades, that was the most in NBA history. Not anymore. On Tuesday night, LeBron James, playing in his 1,410th game, passed the big man on the league’s all-time scoring list. Tributes rolled in, with Shaq’s being among the best.

He has a point – Trent Dilfer sounded a bit like a bitter former player when he talked about not being impressed by Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and other modern-day quarterbacks. But the Super Bowl-winning signal caller isn’t wrong when he says that today’s QBs have it much easier than those who played in past eras.