If I had to pick one parlay that I thought would cash yesterday, I would have said it would be the NHL play. After all, the Capitals, Rangers and Blues were facing the Flyers, Red Wings and Canadiens respectively. None of those teams have a thing to play for, while the teams I took are playoff contenders. On paper, this looked solid.
Except it didn’t work, because the Rangers got too cute in the shootout and couldn’t put one home and the Blues somehow managed to lose a 2-1 lead with nine seconds left and fell in overtime to Montreal. Meanwhile, the much more risky Pennsylvania Parlay cashed, although Robert Morris nearly gave me a heart attack when it fouled down nine with under ten seconds left and the under 3.5 points short of the total. Luckily, the Colonials missed their 3-point attempt to cut it to seven and ruin my parlay, leading to a 5.15 unit cash.
And that’s why we play the occasional parlays: cash one and it’s a great day. We’re back to single game picks for Friday, and luckily, soccer is on the docket to make up for the lack of basketball. Here are my best plays for February 18.
MAINZ-BAYER LEVERKUSEN U2.5, +115
If you listened to the podcast, Corey and I had a different approach to this match. His play was both to score, which also makes sense: Leverkusen has been scoring at will lately, finding the mesh 14 times in its past three matches. It’s also been shipping a lot of goals, as both teams have scored in Leverkusen’s past eight matches. But there’s a trend here going the other way: Mainz playing tight defense. The under has cashed in five of the past seven matches for the 05ers, and four of the past five meetings between the teams have finished 1-0 to Leverkusen. Plus, Mainz has blanked its past four visitors to its grounds. I think this will be a much lower scoring match than Leverkusen has played lately.
JUVENTUS WIN TO NIL, +140
Torino are not scoring on their travels unless the destination is Sampdoria. The Bulls have been blanked in six of their past nine away matches across all formats, and two of the matches where they found the net were at Il Doria, which has given up 42 goals in 25 matches. The other was at Cagliari, whose defense is even worse. Torino should keep its rivals from putting up a big number, so Juve and under 2.5 at +240 is tempting, but this play should be a winner.
NEBRASKA +2, -110
I’m probably stupid for doing this, but Nebraska has actually been an excellent bet when it plays in Lincoln. The Huskers are 6-1 ATS in Big Ten games at home this year, and Maryland might not have Eric Ayala on the floor because of a wrist injury. Nebraska just crushed Minnesota at home and played Rutgers, Wisconsin and Indiana to tight losses. All of the latter three teams are better than Maryland. Nebraska might win this outright.
RICHMOND +2, -110
The Spiders lost to Virginia Commonwealth by two at home earlier this year, so why do I think they turn the tables here? Simple: Richmond shot horrendously that night and still almost stole the game. The Spiders’ shooting has been much better as of late, as Richmond has shot 47 percent or better in three of its past four contests. If that happens again here, the Spiders are winners.
PURDUE FORT WAYNE-GREEN BAY U132.5, -115
Green Bay appears to be cooked at this point. The Phoenix haven’t been competitive in February, failing to cover in any of their five games. So why am I backing the under and not the spread? Because Purdue Fort Wayne has been a home-court hero. The Mastodons put up plenty of points at home, but on the road, not so much. They’ve played to the under in four of five Horizon League road games (the lone exception was at Robert Morris, where they beat the number by a point), and Green Bay isn’t scoring. This looks like a rock fight.