Each week, TheLines looks ahead to what should be some of the most wagered-on events in sports. This week is Thanksgiving week, which means football, football and more football. We’ll also see the start of the 2020-21 college basketball season and a celebrity golf match.
2020-21 College Basketball season begins – Wednesday
College basketball fans have been starving for action since the pandemic canceled the 2020 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. They will finally get to feast on Wednesday, as there are over 50 games scheduled on Thanksgiving eve. Top ranked teams like No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 10 Kentucky, No. 12 Tennessee, No. 13 Michigan State, and No. 16 North Carolina will be in action. As far as college basketball futures go, Baylor (+950 at FanDuel Sportsbook), Gonzaga (+950) and Villanova (+950) are the favorites to win the college basketball national title going into the season.
Ravens at Steelers – Thursday
Football on Thanksgiving is as American as apple pie. The annual participants are in their own games – Dallas and Detroit – but the majority of eyes and betting money will be on the Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers showdown at night. Pittsburgh is just the 21st team in NFL history to start 10-0 and the last since the Panthers in 2015. Baltimore is 6-4 and coming off two straight losses to New England and Tennessee. They slipped to third in the AFC North for the first time all year. Of the remaining teams on the Steelers’ schedule, the Ravens might have the best chance to upend them, although they will have to try it on the road.
The Match III
The Match I took place between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Thanksgiving weekend two years ago and featured a treasure-trove of betting opportunities. The Match III, which will feature Steph Curry and Peyton Manning squaring off against Mickelson and Charles Barkley, will take place this Friday. Given Sir Charles’ never-ending issues with his swing, sportsbooks aren’t banking that Mickelson can carry him to victory. Curry and Manning were -174 favorites at FanDuel Sportsbook as of Monday.
No. 22 Auburn at No. 1 Alabama – Saturday
It’s strange to see the Iron Bowl not accompanied by The Game (Ohio State vs. Michigan) and other famous rivalries, but – ya know – we’re still in 2020. It might not be the most tightly contested installment of the South’s biggest rivalry, as the Crimson Tide opened up as huge 23.5-point favorites. Auburn has struggled this season with a big loss to South Carolina and a tight contest with Ole Miss, but they remain in the AP Top 25. Regardless of the score, the Iron Bowl draws plenty of attention and bets annually and – without the competition of other staple rivalries – should dominate TV ratings.
Titans at Colts – Sunday
This game is crucial in the AFC South. Indianapolis looks for the season sweep of Tennessee after beating the Titans 34-17 on Nov. 12. The Colts (7-3) pulled off a thrilling win over the Packers this past weekend, hitting a game-winning field goal in overtime after forcing a Green Bay fumble. The Titans (7-3) pulled off a thrilling overtime upset of their own – taking care of Baltimore for the second time on the road in 2020 (AFC Divisional Round). This might be the weekend’s most exciting matchup and carries some of the heaviest implications of any NFL game this season.