Wild Card Wednesday: Best Bets for January 18

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a sports bettor, it’s that you can’t force a play. Just because you happen to want to watch a game doesn’t mean that you should always get action on it. Case in point, tonight features a game between my Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s an intriguing matchup, and it’s one where I think both teams will be hungry to score goals.

And yet…Ottawa’s struggled at the net recently and so has Pittsburgh. But at the same time, these teams have produced goals when they’ve faced each other recently, cashing the over in six of seven. So the trends and performances don’t match up, which means I probably shouldn’t force the action. Maybe I’m leaving money on the table, but I’d rather not make a play unless I really feel good about it.

Yesterday, I felt great about all of my plays, and it worked for a 5-0 day. My hockey play was closer than I wanted, but Edmonton still put it to bed fairly early in the third. Hopefully, we can keep that momentum going. Here are my plays for January 18.

LONGWOOD -5.5, -110

Betting on the Lancers is seldom a comfortable experience. Longwood tends to let teams hang around longer than either you or coach Griff Aldrich would like. This season alone, I’ve had at least three instances where I bet the Lancers and watched them nearly fritter away a second-half lead.

So why pull them out here? Because I cashed all three of them, and because they’re playing at Willett Hall. Longwood will make you crazy, but more often than not, Longwood will make you money. In this game, the Lancers should cover because Gardner-Webb repeatedly sends teams to the foul line. As long as Longwood connects, the Lancers will cover.

PITTSBURGH -11, -110

I was there for last year’s meeting, when Louisville nearly gave the game to Pittsburgh. I don’t think the Panthers will need any help this year. The Cardinals aren’t getting any better at 2-16, and the Panthers are in position to think NCAA tournament. The weakness of the ACC isn’t going to help matters, though, and Pitt absolutely cannot afford a Quad 4 defeat to Louisville. Expect Jeff Capel’s team to run away with this one.

ARKANSAS TTO 77.5, -110

Defense-optional Missouri has played to the under in three of four, so I don’t want to mess with the Tigers here. Instead, I’ll ride the Razorbacks to do their share of the scoring. Missouri’s unders aren’t because the Tigers figured out how to get stops; they’re because the Tigers couldn’t break 70 points. They didn’t hold any of their past five opponents under 73, which should bode well for an aggressive Arkansas attack. The Razorbacks have to get back on track here, and I expect their offense to step it up in this game.

SHARKS TTU 2.5, +110

Dallas doesn’t play all that well in the Shark Tank, but that’s against much better San Jose squads. These Sharks aren’t good attackers and face a strong Dallas defense. The Stars rank fifth in penalty kills and second in GAA, and they’ve held the opponent to two goals or less in eight of their past 10. They’ll likely keep the Sharks from doing much damage.


I made the mistake of thinking the total was too high when Central Arkansas visited Queens last week. The Bears proceeded to drop 92 on the Royals and the total cashed by 21 points. I’m not making this mistake again; North Alabama also plays no defense. The Lions rank 359th at defending the 3-pointer and the Bears rank 359th in points conceded. The Bears have given up 83.7 points in six Atlantic Sun games, while North Alabama gave up 107 to Queens and 95 to Stetson. Expect a track meet here.

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