Kornegay’s Korner: Turning the Page

February 15, 2023

With football in the rearview mirror the attention turns to hoops, hockey and hardball

That Super Bowl was a doozy, huh? The oddsmakers were – once again – pretty spot on. For a game that bounced between -1.5 and -1.-0 leading up to Super Sunday, the Chiefs winning on field goal within the last minute was par for the course. Perhaps you picked it that way – or put a little dough down on Travis Kelce to score, the over 51 or Patrick Mahomes taking home the game’s MVP – or maybe you didn’t. Either way, it’s time to turn the page.

Just because football season is behind us, doesn’t mean the betting season is over. In fact, this is the time to jump right into basketball, hockey, Premier League soccer and even look ahead at some baseball futures. And who could possibly be better equipped to set the stage for football’s “offseason,” than SuperBook Sports Chief Oddsmaker Jay Kornegay?

Odds are, nobody.

Here’s what Kornegay had to say about what’s on deck.

Jay on college hoops…

“March Madness is no doubt the next big wagering event. But I won’t sell the rest of February short. For the next three-to-four weeks, we’ll be buried in college hoops, which are traditionally very popular wagering games this time of year. March Madness is a great event for many, but for those that have ‘retail’ outlets it’s one the biggest challenges of the year. The first weekend of the tournament is a bigger challenge than the Super Bowl due to the popularity of the games, the crowds, and the four-day schedule. We’ll be up for it.”

{The takeaway: Don’t wait for madness, begin studying the tendencies of tournament-bound teams now. When the first weekend arrives, you’ll be wise amidst a sea of bandwagoners.}

Jay on the NBA…

“The East is a two-horse race. The Celtics are the overall favorite at +325. In my opinion,

the Bucks – now at 5-to-1 – are the only ones with a chance to knock Boston out; sorry,  Sixers (12/1). In the West, there are five to seven teams that could come out on top. The Suns lead the pack at 9/2, while the Nuggets are right behind them at 7/1. We have a mixed bag behind the top two and any one of these teams could get hot at the right time and make the finals. This group includes the Mavs and Clippers, both at 14/1, plus the  Warriors and Grizzlies at 18/1. Overall, most of the action has come in on the top two teams from each conference. The Warriors get some attention based on defending and their history. I’m not sold on that, as any of these teams listed could cash out.” {The takeaway: It’s wide open. Spread the love, keep an eye on key injuries and watch the futures for dips and opportunities – particularly out West.}

Jay on the NBA MVP…

“’Three-peat’ is all I’ll say.”

{The takeaway: What he said.}

Jay on the NHL…

“It really is a niche sport. We don’t see that many ‘sharps’ playing hockey, but we have a couple. The general betting public will nibble throughout the season, and we’ll see spikes during the playoffs. However, hockey fans aren’t shy putting their opinions into the Stanley Cup futures. We handle a lot more than people think on Cup futures. True fans like to support their teams.” {The takeaway: Bet beyond your heart. Now, nobody is suggesting that you shouldn’t reap the rewards of your favorite team’s Cup run, but from now until then, look around the ice to truly identify the contenders. In hockey, health is everything. Look no further than the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. The roster in Colorado is easily the most loaded lineup in the NHL. The only problem is that it hasn’t been healthy all season long. At the moment, the Avs are chasing a playoff spot, but if they make it into the tournament, and they’re healthy, there’s no better set of players.}  

Jay on the MLB futures…

“The top tier is very level at this time. The way we see it at this point, anyone can take it from the top seven. As is typically the case, the traditional powers rule the roost as we head into spring training. We currently have three co-favorites; the Astros, Dodgers and Yankees are the top dogs at 7/1. The Braves (8/1), Mets 8/1, Padres (9/1) and Blue Jays (10/1) round out the top-7. Those prices might not look that appealing at this time of year but they sure will by the end of August.” {The takeaway: Don’t overthink baseball. Look at every MLB team as a stock; it’s either a blue chip or a penny. The world’s greatest investors have a lot of blue chip in their portfolio, and occasionally – and responsibly – take a flyer on a dark horse. You should bet baseball the same way.}  

Tonight’s Trio

Three bets worth considering on a Wednesday night

© Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets
Ball Arena – Denver, CO
9:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Denver -5.5

On paper, this looks like a bit of a mismatch. The Nuggets are 40-18, which puts them 5.0 games ahead of the Grizzlies for the No. 1 seed in the West; they’re also an NBA-best 26-4 at home. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are just 31-28, trying to avoid the play-in round in the playoffs.

Things have changed of late, however. Eight days ago, Dallas began the shakeup in the West when the Mavs traded for Kyrie Irving. That changes their outlook on the season, raising expectations.

Early on, the returns were good for the Mavs. They won their first two games after the trade, beating the Clippers and the Kings. Since then, however, they’ve hit a rougher patch, losing in overtime in the second half of the back-to-back in Sacramento and falling by three to Minnesota.

At the same time, the Nuggets are dealing with some injury issues. Jamal Murray hasn’t played since Feb. 4, having missed the last five games; he’ll make it six in a row tonight. And Aaron Gordon has missed the last two outings but is day-to-day heading into the matchup with the Mavericks.

Even without two All-Star-caliber players, Denver has won two straight. But wins at Charlotte and Miami are one thing; they’ll have their hands full with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving tonight.

The Nuggets might win, but it’ll be tight. Take the Mavericks and the points.

Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Dallas +5.5 (-110)


© Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder
Paycom Center – Oklahoma City, OK
8:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Oklahoma City -9.5

There isn’t a lot of suspense to this one. It’s a mismatch on the plains, as the Thunder host the Rockets.

Oklahoma City currently sits just a half game out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. Having sputtered to a 5-5 record in their last 10 games, the Thunder can’t afford to give away this one. As they try to chase down Utah or Golden State in the standings, racking up easy wins is a key.

Houston is the definition of that term. The Rockets are 13-44 on the season, giving them the worst record in the NBA. They’re 2-8 in their last 10 games and have dropped six in a row. They’re also tied with San Antonio for the fewest road wins in the league, posting just five on the season.

So, there’s not a lot of intrigue when it comes to the outcome of the game. But how the Thunder get to a win is interesting. More specifically, watching their young star torch the Rockets will be fun to watch.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is currently the fifth-leading scorer in the league, averaging 30.9 points per game. Not surprisingly, he’ll be in Utah for the All-Star Game on Sunday.

Of late, however, the high-scoring guard has struggled a bit. In three of his last four games, Gilgeous-Alexander has failed to reach his season average. That trend will end tonight.

Houston is one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. In four of their last five games, the Rockets have given up 123, 130, 140 and 153 points, in regulation. That’s porous, to say the least.

The star will shine tonight in OKC. Look for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to have a big night.

Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander over 32.5 points (-115)


© Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

(3) Alabama at (10) Tennessee
Thompson-Boling Arena – Knoxville, TN
7:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Tennessee -3.0

Something seems amiss here. This marquee battle in the SEC is leaning in the wrong direction.

Sure, Tennessee is a top-10 team. And yes, the Vols are tough at home, boasting an 11-2 record this season. But at 19-6 overall, including an 8-4 mark in the conference, they’re far from a juggernaut.

That’s been readily apparent of late. Tennessee has lost three of its last four games, including back-to-back one-point heartbreakers to Vanderbilt and Missouri. The Vols’ only win during that stretch was an ugly 46-43 victory over Auburn that seemed to set college basketball back 50 years.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide just continue to roll on. They’re the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason, boasting a 22-3 over record. They’re a perfect 12-0 in the SEC and are 8-1 on the road.

This line should be reversed. Thus, it’s time to jump on the value. Take Alabama and the points.

Hoops Harlen’s pick: Alabama +3.0 (-110)

Around the Nation

Things we’ve learned this week

Everyone gambles in Las Vegas – While Derek Carr is far from a great quarterback, he’s also good enough to win a lot of games. Despite that fact, the Raiders parted ways with him this week, leaving a gaping hole at the most-important position in sports. Perhaps they think they’re going to get Aaron Rodgers or Lamar Jackson. But that seems like a big risk to take in a division that has Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson.

The NBA is wide open – The NBA trade deadline brought a flurry of activity, including a blockbuster deal that sent Kevin Durant to the Suns. Why all of the action? Because more teams that usual think they have a shot to win a title this season. With no “super team” in the way, the race to a championship is wide open, providing a lot of teams with motivation to push their chips into the middle of the table.