Predicting Tonight’s National Championship Game Winner + This Weekend’s Masters Contenders

Always a fun sports week with college basketball’s National Championship Game on Monday night followed by the best week of the pro golf weekend, or at least the most prestigious, The Masters.

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Starting off the week with the final game of a tumultuous NCAA Basketball season – the sport has been through the ringer since October when the FBI launched a raid into a handful of schools including Arizona. But at least we get to see a fun battle of the blue bloods – Michigan and Villanova in the final.

The Wolverines have been on a heck of a run, having lost only once since the calendar turned to February – and that loss was only five days into the month (at Northwestern). Basically what I’m saying is they’ve been undefeated for two months despite the fact Jordan Poole literally saved their season in a second round stunner against Houston.

But the truth is that Michigan hasn’t faced a seed HIGHER than #6 Houston this tournament – with victories over 14, 6, 7, 9, and 11 seeds in The Big Dance. Has any team ever had an easier road to the championship game? No way.

Villanova just looks the part…as they have all season. Led by star PG Jalen Brunson, the Wildcats are the perfect hybrid of solid offense and defense and I’d be shocked if they didn’t take home their second championship in three years on Monday night.

The Wildcats haven’t been tested all tournament and completely ran away from Kansas in the first few minutes on Saturday leaving the Jayhawks never having played within single-digits for the final 35 minutes of the game (or if they did, I must’ve been taking a bathroom break).

While I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wolverines keep it close at halftime, Villanova wins 74-66.


Off the top of my head, this year’s Masters looks to be the most anticipated golf tournament in recent memory. Tiger Woods is back and in good form…can he win his fifth green jacket? Or will Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, or Justin Rose win their first?

Last year I was fortunate enough to have Sergio Garcia at 40-1 to win in Augusta by virtue of a dramatic playoff with Justin Rose. This year I’ll present my five top bets to win golf’s most celebrated tournament:

5. Louis Oosthuizen (50/1) – Here’s one of my two long shots for this weekend. Oosty lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson in 2012 and also finished in the top-25 each year from 2014-16. He’s one of the most rock solid putters around and that’s what it takes to win at Augusta. Might be worth a bet for a top-10 as compared to straight winning it.

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4. Matt Kuchar (40/1) – Four top-10 finishes in his last six trips to Augusta and played an excellent final 63 holes in the Houston Open last weekend. Combination of good form and good record in The Masters is appealing at these long odds.

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3. Rickie Fowler (18/1) – Finished tied for 11th here last year and has faded on the weekend of late, including this past weekend in Houston. Can be electrifying if on his game, though, and is worth a long look at nearly 20-1 odds.

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2. Justin Rose (14/1) – Has finished in the top-25 each year since 2009 at Augusta with two top-2s in the last three trips. I feel like Rose is a virtual lock for the top-10 at this point.

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1. Jordan Spieth (10/1) – Three top-3 finishes in four trips to August = sign me up again this year. Faded to 11th last April with a final round 75. If he can keep it out of the water on the back 9 come Sunday, watch out. Was razor sharp in Houston securing a top-5 finish this past weekend. All systems go for his second green jacket.

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As for good ‘ole Tiger Woods, a top-10 can’t be discounted as I feel like he’s a good bet to at least make the cut and play on the weekend. But I just don’t see him being the Tiger of old who dominated Augusta time after time. In the fairly unlikely event that he’s truly contending on Sunday though, watch out…

To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.

My Super Bowl Pick, Top Prop Bets to Play + Phoenix Open Predictions

Only one blog entry scheduled for this crazy Super Bowl and Phoenix Open week…and it’s a detailed one! Here is my official pick for Super Bowl LII and my Phoenix Open predictions…

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Super Bowl Pick
Regular Season: 171-85 SU (66.8%), 141-114-1 ATS (55.3%)
Playoffs: 5-5 SU, 4-6 ATS

Continue reading “My Super Bowl Pick, Top Prop Bets to Play + Phoenix Open Predictions”

Four Downs – August 7th: It’s time to shorten the NFL’s preseason

I had a great time co-hosting “The Saturday Morning Tailgate” with Jeff Dean talking two hours of college football and an hour of NFL this past weekend. Jeff is a true pro, a fellow UofA grad, and even better, the public address voice of Arizona Basketball at McKale Center! If you’re looking for some (fairly) intelligent football talk, take a listen here (see the audio player at the bottom of the page).

FIRST DOWN: The NFL preseason is WAY too long.

Someone please tell me how or why it’s necessary that the Cardinals and Cowboys are scheduled to play FIVE preseason games. By virtue of both teams playing in the Hall of Fame Game last Thursday night, each team had another meaningless game added to their schedule.

And now the Cardinals are down their rookie speedster / likely #1 kick returner, T.J. Logan for half the season due to a dislocated wrist.

As I mentioned in Friday’s blog and on Saturday’s radio show, the second half of just about every preseason game is unwatchable. As someone who loves college football and will watch even the most meaningless of games, don’t compare Kansas-Iowa State to the 2nd half of Cardinals-Cowboys.

Continue reading “Four Downs – August 7th: It’s time to shorten the NFL’s preseason”

Four Downs – July 24th: Is Kyrie Irving to the Suns a real possibility?

Well I can tell you from on-scene experience, if you like to play the horse favorites at Del Mar, it’s a losing proposition.

FIRST DOWN: Does Kyrie Irving to the Suns actually make sense?

Yes, depending on the return. If the Suns can acquire Irving from Cleveland without giving up Devin Booker or Josh Jackson, then I’m ALL for it! But would Cleveland really consider that?

Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, and a future 1st round pick or two…is that enough? Maybe throw in T.J. Warren instead of the draft pick(s)?

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Irving is clearly unhappy and knows that the 2016 NBA Champions are a sinking ship. LeBron James is leaving (for L.A.) in 2018 and immediately Cleveland goes from the East’s best team to an also-ran.

Continue reading “Four Downs – July 24th: Is Kyrie Irving to the Suns a real possibility?”

Four Downs – July 17th: Solving AZ’s stadium dilemma

FIRST DOWN: The Phoenix area needs new stadiums / sporting attractions – where should / will they go?

This one is super easy to me and would make everyone happy.

But let’s first run down what needs fixing / replaced:

Chase Field: Opened in 1998. The Diamondbacks are asking for $180 million in stadium improvements from Maricopa County…and they’re not getting very far.

Talking Stick Resort Arena: Opened in 1993. To me, I think it’s still a fine arena as it’s been renovated multiple times and still feels fresh. The Suns disagree and will likely be getting a replacement sooner than later.

Gila River Arena: Opened in 2003. Great hockey venue except for the fact that the Coyotes won’t be playing there come Fall 2018.

-Turf Paradise Race Course: Opened in 1956. Completely run down and archaic. Something needs to be done or the Phoenix-area will lose horse racing for good very soon.

-Soccer Stadium: The small pop-up stadium at McKellips and McClintock is fine for a minor league soccer team but will need to be fully constructed with 30,000+ seats for an MLS team. At least the location of the larger soccer stadium, if and when necessary, is ideal.

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Pretty much every team / professional sport other than the Cardinals needs a new venue. And there’s a logical place to put most of these teams…on the Native American land across the 101 from Salt River Fields and next to Talking Stick casino. It makes perfect sense.

Here’s what I would propose:

Continue reading “Four Downs – July 17th: Solving AZ’s stadium dilemma”

Friday, 7/14 Quick Hitters

-I have a true dilemma going into Sunday’s final match at Wimbledon. Though I know NOTHING about tennis, I placed a futures wager on Marin Cilic at 24-1 to win the tournament in late-June. Well guess what, he’s now in the final! So help me here…do I hedge or let it ride? Give me your suggestions on Twitter…I need all the help I can get!

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-What in God’s name happened to Sammy Sosa? Did the steroids finally catch up to him or does he have health-issues? Either way, this photo of him is SCARY!

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Looking back on it, as good a home run hitter as he was in his prime, I think of the incident below when Sammy Sosa’s name is mentioned. Add a strong suspicion of steroids to his reputation…and no wonder he’s disgraced in baseball circles.

Continue reading “Friday, 7/14 Quick Hitters”

Four Downs – June 19th

This is the column I plan to write each Monday this Fall recapping the football weekend…so might as well start a few months early. Let’s call it the Monday equivalent to Friday’s Quick Hitters. Here I’ll recap four hot topics from the weekend with detailed thoughts and opinions regarding what’s going on in the sports world.

FIRST DOWN: Erin Hills was a joke of a U.S. Open course this weekend. It was WAY…and I mean WAY too easy. Congrats to Brooks Koepka for shooting 16 under for the tournament but it’s NOT how the U.S. Open should be won. When I wrote my picks column last week, I was expecting the winning score to be around -3 or -4. Had I known the setup would play so favorably, I never would’ve made some of the bets and predictions that I did. By the way for those of you scoring at home, yes they were all losers.

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As I wrote then, “It’s the one tournament that makes a lousy golfer like me (21 handicap) feel better about my game. Now I have no doubt that I’d probably shoot a 150 at Erin Hills…but it’s fun watching players struggle to make par on most holes…like I do for an average 18 holes.” But this time it really didn’t. Yes the course was extraordinarily long and no doubt would’ve eaten me alive considering I can’t hit a drive straight right now, but the tournament wasn’t nearly as fun to watch compared to other years. Too bad.

Continue reading “Four Downs – June 19th”