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Five for Friday: Best Bets for December 31

There’s not a lot that’s on the slate for the end of 2021, as most people just want to get things over with and get to their New Year’s parties. Plus, nobody wants to go up against the two College Football Playoff semifinals except the NBA, so we’ve got to enter the world of either professional basketball or the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference just to get to Five for Friday today.

We shouldn’t have too many days like this moving forward, but we’ve got to try to end the year with one final set of winners. Here are my best bets for December 31.


Niagara has actually played pretty well at times this season, but the Purple Eagles have a fatal flaw that makes them a bad matchup to take on Quinnipiac: they can’t rebound well at all. Kevin Marfo is one of the least-known rebounders in the nation, and he’s already proven he can terrorize the Metro Atlantic, so I like the Bobcats to cover the small number at home behind second-chance points.

WAKE FOREST TTO 39.5, -110

Rutgers isn’t going to be able to slow down Wake Forest after giving up 40 to Maryland and 52 to Wisconsin. The Demon Deacons haven’t been stopped all season long, and they should be able to drop 40 on the Scarlet Knights in this situation as long as they’re motivated. I think Wake rolls in this one.


Central Michigan playing in the Sun Bowl is a great thing, but the Chippewas simply don’t have the talent to match up with the Cougars. The MAC wasn’t a great league this season, and CMU’s offense is going to have a tough time keeping up with a Washington State squad that’s been getting better every week. The Cougars shouldn’t be lacking for motivation after all they’ve been through this year; they want to end this year right.

CINCINNATI +14.5, -125

The Alabama win over Georgia papered over some of the cracks that have been evident all year from the Tide. There are two possibilities from that game, with the first being the idea that most have accepted, that Alabama has things figured out and is ready to roll again. But the second possibility holds some merit: maybe the SEC just isn’t that good this season. The league has been getting its head handed to it in bowls (the SEC is 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS in bowls this year) and its best non-conference win all year was over N.C. State. Cincinnati is better than it’s getting credit for, and I think they can hang with the Tide for at least three quarters.

GEORGIA -6.5, -130

I know I just said that I don’t think the SEC is all that good this season, but Georgia is a nightmare matchup for Michigan. You don’t beat the Bulldogs with brute force; you beat them with athletes and a quarterback who can get them the ball in space. That describes Bryce Young perfectly. It does not describe Cade McNamara, who is a serviceable quarterback but just isn’t up to that level. The Bulldogs could easily lose this game if the offense does something dumb, but I’ll trust the defense to mitigate Stetson Bennett.

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