Tonight’s Trio

May 24, 2023

Three bets worth considering on a Wednesday night

Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers
FLA Live Arena – Sunrise, FL
8:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Florida -112

There have been 12 series completed in the NHL playoffs thus far in 2023, but there hasn’t been a single sweep. In fact, nine of the 12 have gone at least six games, as the league has put out a highly competitive product with long series being the norm.

That’s why it’s a surprise to see Florida up 3-0 on Carolina, on the verge of going to its second ever Stanley Cup Final and trying to win its first. But the Hurricanes were 3-2 on the road in the postseason entering this series, including an impressive 5-2 win in New York against the Islanders and a 6-1 smackdown of the Devils in New Jersey.

And guess what? Both of those came in Game 4s after tough Game 3 losses, much like their brutal 1-0 defeat to the Panthers on Monday night. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour has done a brilliant job of making adjustments from game to game on the road in the first two series of these playoffs, so why would the Eastern Conference Final be any different?

Meanwhile, Florida was just 2-3 at home entering this series, actually thriving on the road in its underdog role better than it was playing at FLA Live Arena. In those five home games against Boston and Toronto, the Panthers were outscored by a 19-15 margin. And even once you count the Game 3 victory it’s, still a -3 net difference in goals at home.

All three of these contests have been one-goal margins, including a four-overtime thriller in Game 1 that ultimately became a crapshoot because both teams were exhausted. It’s not like any of these have been blowouts, and the law of averages plus the hyper-competitive playoffs say the Hurricanes should win at least one game. They’ll do it on Wednesday night and avoid the sweep.

Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Carolina M/L (-104)


Charles Schwab Challenge
Colonial Country Club – Fort Worth, TX
May 25-28, 2023
SuperBook Line: Viktor Hovland (-120) vs. Collin Morikawa (+100)

Viktor Hovland is coming off an excellent showing at the PGA Championship a weekend ago. He had a real shot to win and was paired in the final group with eventual champion Brooks Koepka.

A pesky and unfortunate bunker shot on the 16th hole ultimately took Hovland out of contention, as his ball plugged into an elevated piece of land and he went on to get a double bogey. But Hovland had nothing to hang his head about, finishing a very impressive -7 overall, tied with world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler for second place.

Meanwhile, Morikawa couldn’t get much going in Rochester, heading into the weekend at +1 and shooting a 74 on Saturday with three-straight bogeys to finish the round. He ultimately finished +4 overall, good for a respectable but disappointing tie in 26th place.

Morikawa is now No. 17 in the world, while Hovland checks in at No. 6. Factor in what happened last weekend and the fact Morikawa only has one top-10 in his last six tournaments (plus two missed cuts) and Hovland looks like the easy play in this tournament matchup.

The Norwegian has finished in the top-10 in four of his last six starts and has made every cut over his last 14, dating back to October 2022. At this event last year, Morikawa finished +2 and tied for 40th place, while Hovland was -2 and tied for 21st place.

Take Hovland confidently. And be thankful he’s only priced at -120.

Bill Liteley’s pick: Viktor Hovland (-120)


Charles Schwab Challenge
Colonial Country Club – Fort Worth, TX
May 25-28, 2023
SuperBook Line: Max Homa (-130) vs. Sam Burns (+110)

These odds are only this close because Sam Burns was masterful at this event a year ago, taking down Scottie Scheffler in a playoff to capture the title with a winning score of -9. Homa wasn’t bad himself, shooting three rounds in the 60s to finish tied for 23rd at -1.

But a lot has changed in a year, as Burns has struggled recently. Meanwhile, Homa continues to rise.

Burns is coming off a disastrous PGA Championship, where he missed the cut and wasn’t even particularly competitive, finishing at +14 after just two rounds. His 80 on Friday was low-lighted by two triple bogeys and a double bogey. His scorecard looked like a decent golfer at a municipal course, not one of the top players in the world at a major championship.

Burns has missed the cut in each of his last two starts and four of his last eight. He’s finished 142nd, 101st and 103rd in three of those tournaments.

Meanwhile, Homa has made the cut in 13 of his last 14 starts. Over that time period, he’s won two tournaments, finished solo second and tied for third. He’s thrown in a T6, T8 and T14 for good measure, climbing all the way up to No. 7 in the world.

Burns’ brutal stretch has dropped him to No. 14. Golf is a sport largely based on confidence, and Homa has a lot of it right now while Burns has faded since his triumph a year ago. Get in on Homa and you may have a winner by Friday afternoon.

Bill Liteley’s pick: Max Homa (-130)

Around the Nation

Things we’ve learned this week

A dymanic duo
While most of the attention in the Western Conference Finals fell on the Lakers, it was the Nuggets that shined on the court. Denver advanced to its first-ever NBA Finals with a convincing sweep of Los Angeles, sending a message to the rest of the league. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have established themselves as one of the best duos in the Association.

The NFL big flex
This week, the NFL approved a plan to modify the Thursday night schedule late in the season. With 28-day notice, the league can flex a game into the earlier time slot, between Weeks 13-17. It makes sense, as they want to avoid bad matchups and meaningless games in that national TV spot. The owners are simply protecting the investment made by Amazon Prime for those games, which is good business.