Each week, TheLines previews what should be the most watched and wagered on sporting events. There is another jam-packed few days ahead of us, with big-time college and pro basketball games, a UFC card featuring Conor McGregor, and the NFL conference title games.
NBA: Bucks vs Nets – Monday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks get their first crack at the NBA’s newest superteam: the Brooklyn Nets. James Harden managed 32 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds in his Nets debut, generally running the offense in the absence of Kyrie Irving. Irving’s status for the game against Milwaukee is unclear, but it could be the league’s first look at the Durant-Harden-Irving triad. The Bucks, on the other hand, command the best record in the East behind 26.6 points and 10 rebounds this season on average from Giannis. It’s a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview on Monday night.
NCAABB: Kansas vs Baylor – Monday, 9 p.m. ET
Baylor continues to assert their dominance this season, most recently scoring a 68-60 win over No. 15 Texas Tech on the road. The Bears have excelled in scoring, defensive rebounds, and have consistently held teams under 70 points. Kansas, meanwhile, dropped their last game to Oklahoma State, pushing them to three losses on the season – matching their total from all of last season. It’s the Jayhawks’ fifth showdown with a top-10 opponent this season, the most in the country.
UFC 257: Poirier vs McGregor – Saturday, 10 p.m. ET
In their first matchup, Conor McGregor managed to beat Dustin Poirier via TKO in less than two minutes. It’s UFC’s first major event of 2021, and who better to headline than McGregor? When the line opened, he was a -275 favorite and he has commanded over 73% of the public betting handle thus far. McGregor is currently -290 and Poirier is +225 at FanDuel Sportsbook. The first fight was fueled by trash talk and bad blood, but the two are on better terms this time around (even discussing this fight being solely for charity). While it might not be the most-tightly contested bout of the year, McGregor’s name is bound to draw a large betting crowd.
NFL: Bucs vs Packers – Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET
For the second week in a row, it’s a postseason first. This past Sunday saw Tom Brady face Drew Brees in the NFL Playoffs for the first time, and this week we get the inaugural Brady vs Aaron Rodgers postseason showdown. The Buccaneers were able to avoid losing three times to the Saints in one season and advanced to their first NFC Championship Game since the 2002 season. They face Green Bay, who have run through all of their opponents since late November. Tampa Bay would become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in their home city if they can topple the Packers this Sunday.
NFL: Bills vs Chiefs – Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET
It took low-scoring, gritty wins over AFC North opponents for both the Chiefs and Bills this past weekend, but Kansas City and Buffalo are the two teams left standing in the AFC. It’s not the most surprising of title game matchups as Kansas City claimed the top seed in the conference and Buffalo claimed the second seed. But it might be the most anticipated game of the season. Uncertainty hangs in the air, as Patrick Mahomes exited the AFC Divisional Round against the Browns with a scary concussion. His status moving forward will have a massive impact on this game’s line (currently Chiefs ). It will be an offense-lover’s paradise if Mahomes is able to suit up.