Each week, TheLines previews the week ahead in sports betting. There’s another big stretch on tap now that we’re in the final month of the calendar year. College football is wrapping up, college hoops is just getting started, and the NFL is in the home-stretch. Here’s what to look forward to this week.
NCAAB: #5 Kansas vs #17 Texas Tech (Thursday, 12/17)
It’s a battle between basketball schools who also saw each other recently in football. After being beaten in the opening game against #1 Gonzaga, Kansas has rattled off six straight wins. Texas Tech was upended by #17 Houston in their third game behind a tough offensive outing. The Red Raiders’ defense leads the way once again, with the team ranking sixth in points allowed per game (50.1). Kansas has been their usual selves, but aren’t blowing the doors off in any statistical category. It’s a battle between elite coaches and fundamentally-sound teams.
NCAAB: #3 Iowa vs #1 Gonzaga (Saturday, 12/19)
Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes (-3.5) face the nation’s top team in Gonzaga (+140) as favorites thanks to outstanding play by Garza this season. He’s the second-leading scoring leader (30.4 points per game) and is being looked at as the early favorite to be the first player picked in next year’s NBA Draft. It’s a battle between two unbeaten teams that both sit top-six in scoring the nation (Iowa third, Gonzaga sixth). The Zags are led by Drew Timme (23.3 points per game) and Corey Kispert (22.2 points per game). It’ll be a fast-paced ballgame where the team that takes care of the ball better will likely come away with the victory. Expect this one to come down to the wire in the young season’s best game.
College Football Conference Championships (Saturday, 12/19)
With so much on the line with regards to the College Football Playoff, there’s plenty of storylines to follow this Saturday.
- #1 Alabama (-16.5) takes on #11 Florida (+470) in the SEC Championship game with a chance for the Tide to clinch the CFP top seed while the Gators try to bounce back from a widely-criticized loss to LSU.
- #11 Oklahoma (-6.5) faces #7 Iowa State as both teams are still clinging to long Playoff hopes in the Big 12 title game.
- #3 Ohio State (-20.5) faces #14 Northwestern as big favorites, but the Wildcats hope to knock the Buckeyes out of CFP consideration.
- #4 Clemson (-10.5) is seeking redemption against #2 Notre Dame and the winner of this one will clinch a CFP berth while the loser holds their breath.
- Washington faces #15 USC (-6.5) in the Pac-12 title game with USC holding onto hopes at CFP consideration.
Chiefs vs Saints (Sunday, 12/20)
It’s a duel between two of the best teams in their respective conferences and a potential Super Bowl preview. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (-190) erased another double-digit deficit and hung on for a gritty win against the Miami Dolphins to move to 12-1. New Orleans is coming off a tough loss to the Eagles which the offense was brought to a stop. The Saints might also be looking at Drew Brees returning to the starting lineup. This could very well be the best game of the year– a year that’s had its fair share of blockbuster matchups.
College Football Playoff Selection Sunday (Sunday, 12/20)
Once the dust settles on the conference championship slate, the College Football Playoff Committee faces some difficult decisions. Major questions surround Ohio State and USC, as each team will have played six and five games, respectively. Will the committee select them over an 8-1 Texas A&M or 9-0 Cincinnati? Other questions lie with Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina– is this finally the year the committee puts a Group of Five team in? Iowa State and Oklahoma are in the hunt, but both have two losses this season, which would make either of them the first two-loss team to make it in. If Clemson loses the ACC Championship Game, they could very well be the first two-loss Playoff team. No matter who the committee chooses, there will be controversy.