30 Apr

 2024 NBA playoff picks, Game 4 best bets from proven model

The New Orleans Pelicans will look to stave off elimination when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of their 2024 NBA playoffs series on Monday. The Thunder (57-25), the top seed in the West, are coming off a 106-85 win at New Orleans on Saturday. The Pelicans (49-33), the eighth seed, have not been able to get out of the first round since the 2017-18 season. OKC was 24-17 on the road during the regular season, while New Orleans was 21-19 at home. Zion Williamson (hamstring) remains out for the Pelicans.

The game from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans will tip off at 8:30 p.m. ET. Oklahoma City is averaging 108 points per game during the postseason, seventh-best in the NBA, while New Orleans is averaging 89.7, 16th-best. Oklahoma City is a 4.5-point favorite in the latest Thunder vs. Pelicans odds from SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points is 208.5. Before making any Pelicans vs. Thunder picks, be sure to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven computer model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters the third week of the 2024 NBA playoffs on a sizzling 91-62 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning more than $2,600. Anyone following the model has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Thunder vs. Pelicans and just locked in its picks and Game 4 predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Pelicans vs. Thunder:

Thunder vs. Pelicans spread: Oklahoma City -4.5
Thunder vs. Pelicans over/under: 206.5 points
Thunder vs. Pelicans money line: Oklahoma City -192, New Orleans +160
OKC: The Thunder have hit the money line in 57 of their last 79 games (+19.60 units)
NO: The Pelicans have hit the first-half money line in 55 of their last 83 games (+23.80 units)
Thunder vs. Pelicans picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Thunder can cover
Center Chet Holmgren has reached double-figure scoring in four of the past five games, including a 26-point effort in Game 2. In that contest, he also added seven rebounds and two blocks. Holmgren registered a double-double in the series opener, scoring 15 points, while adding 11 rebounds. Including the postseason, he has registered 24 double-doubles on the year. In three playoff games, he is averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 1.3 assists.

Shooting guard Josh Giddey is coming off a 21-point, eight-rebound and six-assist effort in Saturday’s win. He has been putting up impressive numbers this season, and over a span of 15 games in March, he averaged 16.3 points on 57.2% shooting, including 41.4% from 3-point range, to go along with seven rebounds and 5.5 assists. He posted a triple-double in a win over Portland on Jan. 11, scoring 13 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and adding 12 assists in just 22 minutes of action. That marked the first time in NBA history that a player had a triple-double on 100% shooting in under 25 minutes. See which team to back at SportsLine.

Why the Pelicans can cover
Guard CJ McCollum is one of five New Orleans players averaging 10 or more points this postseason. McCollum opened the series with a 20-point, six-assist and three-rebound performance. He followed that up with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists, and had 16 points, seven assists and five boards in Game 3. During the regular season, he played in 66 games, all starts, and averaged 20 points, 4.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 32.7 minutes. During the regular season, McCollum ranked No. 1 in the NBA in 3-point percentage, shooting 42.9% from long range.

Small forward Brandon Ingram has scored 10 or more points in each of the last 10 games for New Orleans. His best game during that stretch was a 24-point, six-rebound and six-assist effort in a 105-98 win over Sacramento on April 19. He had 19 points and four rebounds in Saturday’s Game 3 loss. In three postseason games, he is averaging 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and one block in 35.7 minutes. See which team to back at SportsLine.

How to make Pelicans vs. Thunder picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 210 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits over 50% of the time. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

So who wins Thunder vs. Pelicans, and which side of the spread hits over 50% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Pelicans vs. Thunder spread you need to jump on, all from the model on a 91-62 roll on top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.

30 Apr

2024 NBA playoff picks, Game 5 best bets from proven model

The No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets are hosting the No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers in a pivotal Game 5 matchup in the 2024 NBA playoffs on Monday. After falling down 0-3, the Lakers picked up a massive win in Game 4 when Los Angeles edged out Denver 119-108, snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Nuggets. Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) is questionable for Los Angeles, while Jamal Murray (calf) is questionable for Denver.

Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET at Ball Arena in Denver. The Nuggets are 6.5-point favorites in the latest Lakers vs. Nuggets odds via SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 217. Before making any Nuggets vs. Lakers picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters the third week of the 2024 NBA playoffs on a sizzling 91-62 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning more than $2,600. Anyone following the model has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Lakers vs. Nuggets and just locked in its picks and Game 5 predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Nuggets vs. Lakers:

Lakers vs. Nuggets spread: Denver -6.5
Lakers vs. Nuggets over/under: 217 points
Lakers vs. Nuggets money line: Denver -254, Los Angeles +206
DEN: The Nuggets are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games
LAL: The Lakers are 2-7 ATS in their past nine games against the Nuggets
Lakers vs. Nuggets picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Nuggets can cover
Forward Aaron Gordon is an athletic playmaker who’s great at cutting to the rim and finishing around the rim. The Arizona product rebounds well and plays superb defense against forwards. He’s averaging 15.5 points, nine rebounds, and 4.3 assists in the 2024 NBA playoffs. In Game 3, he had 29 points and 15 rebounds.

Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope provides Denver with another two-way force. Caldwell-Pope has the athleticism to move well out on the perimeter as a defender and uses his sweet jumper to space the floor. In this series, he’s averaging 9.3 points, two assists, and 2.3 steals per game. On April 27, Caldwell-Pope finished with 14 points and four steals. See which team to back at SportsLine.

Why the Lakers can cover
Forward LeBron James can take over a game in a flash. James is a freight train when driving into the paint with the top-tier vision to get his teammates good looks at the rim. The 20-time All-Star leads the team in assists (8.2) and steals (2) to go along with 27.3 points per game in the 2024 NBA playoffs. In Game 4, James stuffed the stat sheet with 30 points, five rebounds, and four assists.

Forward Anthony Davis has great instincts and awareness on the floor. Davis thrives as a shot-blocker and rebounder but has a diverse offensive game. The former Kentucky product also plays elite defense. Davis enters Monday’s matchup leading the team in points (30.5), rebounds (15.8), and blocks (1.5) thus far in the postseason. In Game 4, he finished with 25 points, 23 rebounds, and six assists. See which team to back at SportsLine.

How to make Nuggets vs. Lakers picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 220 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits in well over 50% of simulations. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

So who wins Lakers vs. Nuggets, and which side of the spread hits well over 50% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Nuggets vs. Lakers spread you need to jump on, all from the model on a 91-62 roll on top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.

30 Apr

Celtics big man (calf tightness) to undergo imaging Tuesday

The Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 102-88 in Game 4 on Monday to take a 3-1 series lead, but they may have lost Kristaps Porzingis in the process.

Porzingis exited late in the second quarter with right calf tightness, the Celtics announced. He appeared to roll his opposite ankle a few possessions and was noticeably limping before pulling up lame with the calf injury. In a positive bit of news, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Porzingis will undergo imaging on Tuesday, but as it stands, it does not appear that he’s suffered an Achilles injury.

Kristaps Porzingis actually rolled his ankle and was already limping a couple possessions before his non-contact injury. Here’s the sequence: pic.twitter.com/hP6SBlzKok

— Tomek Kordylewski (@Timi_093) April 30, 2024
In the moment, it didn’t look great. It was non-contact, and Porzingis had his head buried in his jersey as he limped to the locker room. He left the arena is a walking boot.

Kristaps Porzingis heading out of the Kaseya Center with a walking boot on his right foot pic.twitter.com/lUCwjVOE3A

— Josue Pavón (@Joe_Sway) April 30, 2024
It’s now a big-picture situation for Boston, which, barring a catastrophic collapse, has this Miami series in hand and can begin prioritizing Porzingis’ long-term postseason outlook.

We’ll wait to see what, exactly, Porzingis is dealing with, but if it’s concerning at all, you’d have to imagine there’s no way he plays in Game 5 on Wednesday, and moving forward it’s worth questioning whether the Celtics would consider sitting Porzingis for their presumed second-round series against either Cleveland or Orlando.

Neither of those teams should be able to threaten Boston even without Porzingis, who becomes a major necessity starting in the conference finals, where, as it looks right now, Boston could be facing the Knicks. Beyond that, certainly Porzingis would be needed in the Finals should Boston make it that far.

So yeah, prioritizing Porzingis’ long-term postseason outlook will likely be the play for Boston no matter how this diagnosis comes back, but let’s all hope for positive news as we’ve had enough injuries already take their toll on this postseason.

27 Mar

Expert NCAA bracket picks against the spread, odds for First Four games

The 2024 NCAA Tournament officially got its start on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, with two First Four games. There are two more First Four games on Wednesday. The first games each day will tip off at 6:40 p.m. ET with all four showdowns on truTV and March Madness Live.

No. 16 seeds Grambling and Montana State will meet first, with the winner facing No. 1 seed Purdue in the Midwest Region. The next game will see No. 10 seeds Colorado and Boise State battling their way into the main bracket. The winner advances into the first round to face No. 7 seed Florida on Friday.

The First Four has been a mixed bag over the years, but generally the games serve as a perfectly tasty appetizer to the main course that is the first round of March Madness, which begins Thursday at noon.

Let’s take a look at each of the First Four games along with who our experts are predicting will not only advance to the first round but potentially cover the spread.

Odds via SportsLine consensus | All times Eastern

(10) Colorado vs. (10) Boise State
Wednesday, 9:10 p.m. | truTV, March Madness Live: Few teams enter the NCAA Tournament with better vibes and renewed optimism as Colorado, which has won seven of its last eight games thanks to finally landing on the right side of some injury luck. Coach Tad Boyle has a talented squad stacked with future NBA talent playing with a lot of confidence going into March Madness. Pick: Colorado -2.5

(16) Grambling State vs. (16) Montana State
Wednesday, 6:40 pm. | truTV, March Madness Live: Grambling State is dancing for the first time in school history after taking down the SWAC regular-season and tournament titles. The Tigers are 18-4 since a 2-10 start, and they are led by two standout guards in Kintavious Dozier and Tra’Michael Moton, who I think have the goods to at least keep this one within the number. Pick: Grambling State +4

27 Mar

Boise State vs. Colorado prediction, best bets from expert on 22-10 run

The Boise State Broncos (22-10) and Colorado Buffaloes (24-10) meet in the 2024 First Four on Wednesday. The winner of the game will be the No. 10 seed in the South Region and take on the No. 7 seed Florida Gators in the first round on Friday. The Buffs went on an eight-game winning streak to close out the regular season and bolster their NCAA Tournament resume before losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament title game. The Broncos finished the regular season in a tie for second place in the Mountain West, but lost to New Mexico in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Boise State is making its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Leon Rice, while CU will be making its sixth appearance under Tad Boyle.

Tipoff from UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio is scheduled for 9:10 p.m. ET. The Buffs are 3.5-point favorites in the latest Boise State vs. Colorado odds from SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 143.5. Before making any Colorado vs. Boise State picks, be sure to see the college basketball predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Jimmie Kaylor.

Kaylor is a betting and DFS expert for SportsLine, who has covered college sports and the NFL for close to a decade as a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. His background as a former high level athlete — he was a Division-I All-American and professional athlete — gives him a unique perspective when building his fantasy lineups and locking in his betting picks. He has his finger on the pulse of the college basketball landscape and has been cashing in big for SportsLine members for the last two years.

Kaylor enters the 2024 NCAA Tournament on a 19-9 run on his college basketball picks for SportsLine. He is up 10.1 units, returning a profit of $1,010 for $100 bettors. In Tuesday’s First Four matchup between Virginia and Colorado State, Kaylor went 3-1, returning a profit of $190 for $100 bettors and running his overall streak to 22-10. Anyone who has followed his picks this season is way up.

Now, the Kaylor has his sights on Boise State vs. Colorado in the First Four 2024 and just locked in his picks and predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are several college basketball odds and trends for Colorado vs. Boise State:

Colorado vs. Boise State point spread: Colorado -3.5
Colorado vs. Boise State over/under total points: 143.5
Colorado vs. Boise State money line: Colorado -179, Boise State +149
CU: KJ Simpson leads the Buffs in scoring at 19.6 points per game.
BSU: The Broncos rank 18th in the country in strength of schedule.
Colorado vs. Boise State picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why Colorado can cover
Colorado is athletic and has the potential to be one of the most explosive offensive teams in the March Madness field. Tad Boyle’s team averages 79.3 points per game, with five players averaging 10.2 or more points per game. The trio of KJ Simpson, Tristan da Silva, and Cody Williams will give opposing teams fits, and center Eddie Lampkin Jr. is an imposing presence on the inside.

Simpson, a 6-foot-2 junior, leads the team in scoring (19.6 ppg) and assists (4.9) to go with 5.7 rebounds per game. Williams, a 6-foot-8 wing and future NBA lottery pick, is back from an ankle injury that slowed him down during the Pac-12 Tournament and averages 12.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Da Silva averages 15.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Buffs. All three players will likely be on NBA rosters in the future. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

Why Boise State can cover
Boise State is another Mountain West team that feels like it was disrespected by the Selection Committee. The Broncos put together an impressive regular season resume en route to earning their third straight NCAA Tournament bid. Leon Rice’s team finished in a tie for second place in the Mountain West during the regular season, before being upset by eventual champion New Mexico in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament.

The Broncos enter March Madness ranked 26th in the country in NET after played the 18th-most difficult schedule in college basketball. BSU has four players averaging 12.5 points or more per game, and it is one of the most efficient offensive teams in the March Madness field. Forwards O’Mar Stanley (13.0 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Tyson Degenhart (17.0 points, 6.2 rebounds) lead the way for the Broncos. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

How to make Boise State vs. Colorado picks
Kaylor has analyzed Boise State vs. Colorado from every angle and he’s leaning Over on the point total. He has also discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He’s only sharing what it is, and which side to back, at SportsLine.

27 Mar

Picking winners of all 63 games in the NCAA Tournament with 63 reasons why

I never fill out my bracket until the First Four is over. After all, First Four teams have a well-established propensity to go further than just one game, and this year’s bunch — especially the No. 10 seeds from the Centennial State, Colorado and Colorado State — could add to that.

That also gives me more time to research and distance myself from championship week. That’s the upside. The downside is it gives me more time to fret. What am I missing? What am I looking into too much?

What am I doing?

Don’t get caught on the bubble! Get your brackets in now to compete for the chance to win a new Nissan Rogue and Final Four® trips!

But eventually Thursday comes, and my bracket is due. So I boil it down to one sentence for every matchup. It’s part adages I believe in (great, experienced guard play and NBA talent are requisites), part research and part “I need to get this done.” So here’s the result: 63 picks, 63 sentences and too many reasons to worry (and be excited) to count.

First round
No. 1 UConn over No. 16 Stetson: The Hatters’ first NCAA Tournament trip is a short one as UConn just has too many options.
No. 8 Florida Atlantic over No. 9 Northwestern: If Northwestern was healthy, I’d take the Wildcats, but Florida Atlantic wins a high-scoring one with Johnell Davis and Boo Buie going back and forth.
No. 5 San Diego State over No. 12 UAB: Jaedon LeDee is the best player on the court.
No. 4 Auburn over No. 13 Yale: The Tigers’ depth, athleticism and length overwhelms the Bulldogs.
No. 6 BYU over No. 11 Duquesne: The Cougars are third in 3-pointers made this season.
No. 3 Illinois over No. 14 Morehead State: Behind Terrence Shannon Jr. and Marcus Domask, the Illini are the first Big Ten Tournament champion to make the second round since 2021.
No. 10 Drake over No. 7 Washington State: Darien and Tucker DeVries are the latest father-son duo to lead an upset.
No. 2 Iowa State over No. 15 South Dakota State: The Cyclones flex their defensive muscle.
No. 1 Houston over No. 16 Longwood: The Cougars bounce back from a rough Big 12 Tournament title game loss.
No. 9 Texas A&M over No. 8 Nebraska: The Aggies’ massive advantage on the boards proves the difference.
No. 12 James Madison over No. 5 Wisconsin: The Dukes are experienced and explosive, and they defend the 3-pointer exceptionally well.
No. 4 Duke over No. 13 Vermont: Jon Scheyer’s club should be well-rested and refocused after losing its ACC Tournament opener.
No. 6 Texas Tech over No. 11 NC State: The Wolfpack are a popular upset pick, but Pop Isaacs leads a Red Raiders team with five double-digit scorers.
No. 3 Kentucky over No. 14 Oakland: Greg Kampe and the Golden Grizzlies are one of the great stories in this tournament, but Kentucky has too much offense.
No. 7 Florida over No. 10 Colorado: The Gators have great guards, active bigs and terrific size across the board, making things tough on KJ Simpson and Co.
No. 2 Marquette over No. 15 Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers will push the Golden Eagles to their limits, especially with the nation’s fastest tempo, but Tyler Kolek’s return pays huge dividends.
No. 1 Purdue over Grambling State: the Boilermakers are back and on a mission.
No. 9 TCU over No. 8 Utah State: The Horned Frogs have a ton of experience, and Jameer Nelson Jr. or Emanuel Miller will make some big shots late.
No. 5 Gonzaga over No. 12 McNeese: This will be a tight one, and in a battle of great guards (Ryan Nembhard plus Nolan Hickman vs. Shahada Wells), big man Graham Ike powers the Bulldogs.
No. 13 Samford over No. 4 Kansas: The Jayhawks, especially without Kevin McCullar Jr., don’t have the firepower or depth to keep up.
No. 6 South Carolina over No. 11 Oregon: One of the hardest calls of the first round goes the Gamecocks’ way thanks to better guard play.
No. 3 Creighton over No. 14 Akron: I named Akron my favorite No. 14 seed to win, but Creighton is just too experienced and composed to fall this early.
No. 7 Texas over No. 10 Colorado State: Max Abmas and Dylan Disu get the inconsistent but talented Longhorns off on the right foot.
No. 2 Tennessee over No. 15 Saint Peter’s: The Peacocks will have major trouble on the boards and against Dalton Knecht.
No. 1 North Carolina over No. 16 Wagner: RJ Davis fuels the Tar Heels in their opener.
No. 9 Michigan State over No. 8 Mississippi State: The Spartans have won nine of their last 10 first-round games.
No. 5 Saint Mary’s over No. 12 Grand Canyon: The Gaels are really, really solid up and down the roster, and their defense is terrific, too.
No. 4 Alabama over No. 13 Charleston: This game will feature a ton of points, but Mark Sears will be the difference.
No. 11 New Mexico over No. 6 Clemson: Get ready to know the names Jaelen House, Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Donovan Dent.
No. 3 Baylor over No. 14 Colgate: The Raiders’ close-but-no-cigar first-round tradition continues.
No. 10 Nevada over No. 7 Dayton: The Wolf Pack have the backcourt and, at long last, the defense to get their first NCAA Tournament win since 2018.
No. 2 Arizona over No. 15 Long Beach State: The Wildcats avoid a repeat of last year’s 2-vs.-15 loss to Princeton.
Second round
No. 1 UConn over No. 8 Florida Atlantic: The Huskies pass their first major test of the tournament, with their excellent offense tearing up a poor FAU defense.
No. 4 Auburn over No. 5 San Diego State: The rugged Aztecs are used to wearing opponents down, but the Tigers are too deep and talented for that.
No. 3 Illinois over No. 6 BYU: The Illini get to the second weekend for the first time since 2013, with the guards dominating.
No. 2 Iowa State over No. 10 Drake: Keshon Gilbert continues his breakout season, and that Cyclones defense leads the way again.
No. 1 Houston over No. 9 Texas A&M: The Aggies just don’t make enough perimeter shots to keep up with Jamal Shead, L.J. Cryer and Emanuel Sharp.
No. 4 Duke over No. 12 James Madison: Duke beats the Dukes with Kyle Filipowski continuing a strong postseason.
No. 3 Kentucky over No. 6 Texas Tech: Antonio Reeves, Rob Dillingham and Reed Sheppard carry the Wildcats.
No. 7 Florida over No. 2 Marquette: Shaka Smart hasn’t made it past the first weekend since VCU’s 2011 First Four-to-Final Four run, with 10 first-weekend exits since.
No. 1 Purdue over No. 9 TCU: The Boilermakers are just too much inside (Zach Edey) and outside (country’s second-best 3-point shooting percentage vs. a suspect TCU perimeter defense).
No. 5 Gonzaga over No. 13 Samford: This isn’t Mark Few’s best team, but having two composed guards against Bucky Ball’s press is a huge advantage.
No. 3 Creighton over No. 6 South Carolina: Ryan Kalkbrenner is the perfect defensive anchor against the Gamecocks’ hard-driving guards.
No. 2 Tennessee over No. 7 Texas: The Volunteers have the length, strength and versatility to limit Abmas and Disu, and the Longhorns don’t have enough consistent answers elsewhere.
No. 1 UNC over No. 9 Michigan State: Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard vs. Davis is a great guard matchup, but the Tar Heels are too good offensively all-around.
No. 4 Alabama over No. 5 Saint Mary’s: The Crimson Tide’s length, pace and athleticism overwhelm the Gaels.
No. 3 Baylor over No. 11 New Mexico: The Bears’ 3-point edge (39% vs. 33%) is too much for the Lobos to overcome.
No. 2 Arizona over No. 10 Nevada: In a game against his former conference rival, Keshad Johnson’s toughness, athleticism and improved shooting (39% from 3-point range) are key.
Sweet 16
No. 1 UConn over No. 4 Auburn: I trust the steady Tristen Newton more than I trust Auburn’s many guards.
No. 3 Illinois over No. 2 Iowa State: The Cyclones have seen a lot of good offenses, but they haven’t seen anything quite like the Illini’s.
No. 1 Houston over No. 4 Duke: The Blue Devils struggle against really physical, tough teams, and Houston might be the nation’s best at both.
No. 3 Kentucky over No. 7 Florida: These two split their regular-season meetings, decided by five points combined, and Sheppard makes some big ones to win this one.
No. 1 Purdue over No. 5 Gonzaga: The redemption tour continues as Edey gets Ike in foul trouble early, and the Zags have no interior answer after that.
No. 2 Tennessee over No. 3 Creighton: This was the only pick I crossed out and re-picked, and I did so because Knecht’s status as the best player on the floor overcomes Creighton’s balanced attack.
No. 4 Alabama over No. 1 North Carolina: Alabama has the widest range of outcomes this tournament, and in an up-tempo battle, the Crimson Tide are just a little better getting the shots they want.
No. 3 Baylor over No. 2 Arizona: Scott Drew and his bevy of guards are too much for an Arizona team that struggles to defend the 3.
Elite Eight
No. 1 UConn over No. 3 Illinois: Both of these teams can really score, but the Illini have too many defensive lapses against the Huskies’ intricate offense.
No. 1 Houston over No. 3 Kentucky: In a battle of contrasting styles, the Cougars’ physicality wins the day.
No. 2 Tennessee over No. 1 Purdue: The Volunteers can put together a solid gameplan against Edey thanks to their size, and Knecht’s rampage through the tournament continues.
No. 4 Alabama over No. 3 Baylor: The Bears finally meet their match in the 3-point shooting department, and Alabama’s 2-point proficiency helps the Crimson Tide win a thriller to make their first Final Four.
Final Four
No. 1 UConn over No. 4 Alabama: The Huskies have the interior defense to protect the rim, the athleticism to defend the perimeter and the composure to end the Crimson Tide’s run.
No. 1 Houston over No. 2 Tennessee: Both teams are excellent defensively and can struggle offensively, but I trust Houston’s backcourt a little more to get big buckets down the stretch.
National Championship
No. 1 UConn over No. 1 Houston: The Huskies are the complete package and pull off the first repeat since 2006-07 Florida.

20 Mar

Sea Dragons earn final berth via tiebreaker; here’s a look at both playoff semis

The XFL’s 40-game regular season — four games per week for 10 weeks — ended Sunday night, and it took all 40 to decide which team got the fourth and final playoff berth.

The Seattle Sea Dragons entered their Sunday night matchup with the Vegas Vipers knowing they’d need to at least win to match the St. Louis Battlehawks’ 7-3 record. The Sea Dragons got the win, 28-9, as well as the final playoff berth, with the deciding factor amazingly coming down to the fifth point in the XFL’s list of playoff tiebreakers.

Ahead of its Week 10 games, the XFL is sharing its two team tiebreakers and Division Championship Game clinching scenarios. pic.twitter.com/30fvL7Y8az

— XFL Communications Department (@XFL_PR) April 21, 2023
The Sea Dragons, who’ve gone 7-1 in their last eight after an 0-2 start, have had a difficult week. Defensive lineman Chris Smith, who also played for five different teams in eight seasons in the NFL, died last Monday at age 31. Seattle wore Smith’s No. 42 on their helmets and had his jersey on the sideline.

A moment of silence for our teammate Chris Smith #XFL2023 | #BreatheFire pic.twitter.com/9uLpMGstpc

— Seattle Sea Dragons (@XFLSeaDragons) April 23, 2023
Seattle’s win knocked out the Battlehawks, who got an absolute monster effort from A.J. McCarron on Saturday (more on that below). First, let’s dive into the playoff matchups.

XFL playoffs set
Arlington Renegades at Houston Roughnecks

Saturday, April 29, 7 p.m. ET

Seattle Sea Dragons at D.C. Defenders

Sunday, April 30, 3 p.m. ET

The championship game will feature the winners of those two matchups, with the game kicking off at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 13, on ABC.

Here’s a look at the Week 10 scores (check out the final regular-season XFL standings here).

St. Louis Battlehawks 53, Orlando Guardians 28
D.C. Defenders 29, San Antonio Brahmas 28
Houston Roughnecks 25, Arlington Renegades 9
Seattle Sea Dragons 29, Vegas Vipers 9

Sea Dragons top Vipers, knock Battlehawks out of playoff picture
Seattle led just 6-0 at half, perhaps feeling some nerves in a must-win game. But after that it was all Sea Dragons. Seattle scored a touchdown on four consecutive drives from the end of the second quarter to the start of the fourth.

Sea Dragons quarterback Ben DiNucci threw for 339 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. Former NFL receiving leader Josh Gordon led Seattle with nine catches for 115 yards. Juwan Green had five catches for 88 yards.

Two of Seattle’s three losses this season came against the D.C. Defenders — 22-18 in Week 1, and 34-33 in Week 8 — and they’ll now face each other for a third time in the playoffs.

McCarron sets XFL’s all-time TD record
A.J. McCarron may not have been an NFL star, but he’s been an absolute beast in the XFL. The Battlehawks quarterback threw SIX touchdown passes on Saturday, going 28 of 35 for 420 yards. McCarron appears to be the frontrunner for XFL MVP. In a game with a playoff berth potentially on the line, all St. Louis did was score 53 points.

Granted, it came against the Orlando Guardians, who’ve won one game all season — inexplicably handing the D.C. Defenders their one and only loss.

McCarron’s six TDs gave him 24 for the year. It’s the most any XFL quarterback has thrown in any of the league’s three seasons — the other two were the 2020 season that was canceled after five games due to COVID-19, and the original one way back in 2001, when Tommy Maddox threw 18 touchdown passes.

No typos. We checked. pic.twitter.com/P5FB07drgu

— St. Louis Battlehawks (@XFLBattlehawks) April 22, 2023
The question for McCarron: Could he return to the NFL? The fifth-round pick of the Bengals in 2014 — he also played briefly with four other teams, totaling 6 TD passes and 3 INTs in the NFL — would be eligible to do so.

A look at who’s in
D.C. Defenders
Seattle Sea Dragons
Houston Roughnecks
Arlington Renegades
The owners of the XFL’s best record, D.C. (9-1) won another nail-biter this past weekend, beating the San Antonio Brahmas 29-28.

The Brahmas’ loss knocked them out of playoff contention, which means the Arlington Renegades are in — despite a 4-6 record and allowing more points than they’d scored after losing on Sunday. The Renegades and Roughnecks not only played in the regular-season finale for each team on Sunday (the Roughnecks won 25-9), they’ll also match up again in the playoffs next Saturday in the South Division championship — in case you’d like to watch some football as the third and final day of the NFL Draft comes to a close.

A look at who’s out
Las Vegas Vipers
Orlando Guardians
San Antonio Brahmas
St. Louis Battlehawks
The Vipers couldn’t play spoiler against the Sea Dragons on Sunday night, but Vegas was more competitive during the second half of the season. Rod Woodson’s team picked up its second win over the season in convincing fashion over the Brahmas back in Week 7, and followed up that performance with close losses against St. Louis and Houston.

The Battlehawks led the league in attendance, showing that St. Louis certainly still wants a football team. Of their three losses this season, two came against the D.C. Defenders, and one against the Sea Dragons.

20 Mar

Here’s a look at how all the teams stack up in both divisions as regular season concludes

The 2023 version of the rebooted XFL has reached the end of its regular season, and if you’re wondering how the playoffs work and what the standings look like, you’re in luck. Each XFL team played 10 regular-season games, and the top two from each division move on to the playoffs, featuring the North Division and South Division title games on April 29 and 30. The XFL championship game will be held on May 13.

Be sure to check back each week to see the updated standings below, and don’t miss all of CBS Sports’ XFL coverage.

20 Mar

How to watch Renegades vs. Defenders, which team has the edge

The XFL accomplished what its new ownership set out to do: Finish a successful season. That didn’t happen in 2020, when the XFL was canceled after Week 5 due to COVID-19, and it didn’t return until this year. The 2023 XFL campaign will conclude this Saturday, as the Arlington Renegades take on the D.C. Defenders in the XFL Championship Game.

Not many saw the Renegades making the championship. They entered the playoffs with a 4-6 record, but rallied to win in the playoff semifinals with a 26-11 upset victory over Wade Phillips and the Houston Roughnecks, who finished first in the South Division in the regular season. Renegades quarterback Luis Perez was impressive, as he completed 19 of 27 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns — two of which went to JaVonta Payton, who caught five passes for 121 yards.

The Defenders have been one of the most dominant teams in the league since Week 1, as XFL Coach of the Year Reggie Barlow led D.C. to a 9-1 record and North Division title. While quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was the XFL’s Offensive Player of the Year, the Defenders are known for their ground game and stingy Gregg Williams-led defense.

Below, we will break down how to watch the XFL Championship Game, and give our against-the-spread pick.

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Arlington Renegades vs. D.C. Defenders (-6.5)
Date: Saturday, May 13 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)
Odds: Defenders -6.5 | O/U 48 (-110)

These two teams faced off less than a month ago, with the Defenders escaping with a 28-26 victory (check out both teams’ week-by-week results here). It was a thrilling contest which required overtime, as the Renegades scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Perez passed for 335 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while De’Veon Smith rushed for 43 yards and two touchdowns. Arlington dropping 434 yards of total offense on the Defenders in D.C. was surprising. For the Defenders, the XFL’s leading rusher in Abram Smith was held to just 27 rushing yards on 10 carries, while Ta’amu threw for 188 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

If the Defenders can’t run the ball on Arlington, that’s a bit worrisome. D.C. had the No. 1 rushing attack in the XFL with 1,408 total rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns in the regular season. No other team even reached 970 rushing yards.

Six points is a relatively large number for a championship game, and you have to wonder if Saturday’s hypothetical game script could be similar to what happened the last time these two teams faced off: The Defenders acquire an early lead, but allow Perez and the Renegades to get back in the game late. Granted, I’m not sure D.C. will allow 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter again.

It’s impressive what the Renegades have been able to pull off with their new quarterback (Perez began the season on the Vegas Vipers, but was traded to Arlington). They have earned the right to play in this game. But the Defenders have been one of the favorites to win the championship since the beginning. I would throw the Defenders moneyline into a parlay with your favorite picks from the NBA or NHL playoffs, but in speaking on the spread, I can’t bring myself to take the points with the Renegades. I’m going to lay the points with the favorites, and create a beer snake of my own this weekend.

20 Mar

Defenders vs. Renegades picks, predictions from top pro football expert

Nearly three years after Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson purchased the XFL, the league will hold its first championship game this Saturday. Kickoff for the 2023 XFL Championship Game is at 8 p.m. ET from the Alamodome in San Antonio, with the Arlington Renegades (4-6) taking on the DC Defenders (9-1). Arlington won the South Division Final after finishing runner-up in the division in the regular season. The Defenders swept both the North Division regular season and postseason game.

The XFL Championship Game 2023 is a rematch of a Week 9 meeting in which the Defenders won 28-26 in Washington, D.C. Caesars Sportsbook has DC as the 7-point favorite, while the over/under is 48. Before locking in Renegades vs. Defenders picks, you need to see the XFL predictions from SportsLine’s Emory Hunt.

Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007. He is a former running back for the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and knows the game from a player’s perspective. Hunt’s dedication to analysis of all levels of college and professional football helped him start the USFL season 24-18 last year, and now he’s 25-17 on his XFL spread picks this season.

Now, Hunt has broken down the XFL Championship Game 2023 and locked in his best bet for Saturday’s showdown. You can head to SportsLine to see his picks.

XFL Championship Game 2023 picks
Hunt has analyzed Defenders vs. Renegades and is leaning towards the Under (48) for total points scored. The Renegades scored 23 fewer points than any other XFL team this season, and Hunt labeled them “one of the more frustrating offenses all season.” They’ll now have to match up with a DC defense that racked up the second-most sacks (25) this year and added three more in the XFL semifinals.

On the other side of the ball, Arlington has already displayed that it can take away what DC does best on offense, and that’s run the ball. The Defenders averaged 150.9 rushing yards per game versus every team besides Arlington, but they could only muster 50 yards on the ground when these teams met in Week 9.

Arlington brings the league’s second-best run defense into this game, only topped by DC having the No. 1 run defense. It could be a struggle to move the ball on the ground, which is both of these squads’ preferred method of attack. With points hard to come by, Hunt comfortably backs the Under (48). See more XFL picks at SportsLine.

How to make 2023 XFL Championship Game predictions
Hunt has also found a critical x-factor that has him jumping on one side of the spread. He’s sharing it only at SportsLine.