After what was one of the most shocking Orange Bowls of all-time last night, with West Virginia completely demolishing Clemson 70-33 while putting up the most points in bowl history, Thursday is a day of regrouping, licking a few wounds, and saddling back up to the best options for online sports betting with a hope of redemption. As I can safely admit that last night’s drubbing of Clemson, whom I had picked to win (along with the majority of journalists and sports analysts), will likely be the worst pick I make during all of 2012, things start to look a little rosier on Thursday, as there’s nowhere to go but up from here! All joking aside though, it’s time to right the ship on Thursday, and there’s no better way to do it than to take a look at the small crop of games scheduled for NBA and NCAA Basketball today, as the 2012 College Bowl schedule takes a day’s break before tomorrow’s Cotton Bowl between #8 Kansas State and #6 Arkansas picks the bowl excitement back up. For online sports betting today at one of the top online sportsbooks found here, let’s take a look at the best betting lines for a couple picks on basketball and perhaps some NHL Hockey wagers as well, with the hopes of pushing past an embarrassing Wednesday of online sportsbook betting.
For the NBA tonight, 4 games are lined up with 3 exceptional showdowns on tap, first as the Miami Heat seek to avenge their only loss of the season by taking on the Atlanta Hawks for the second time in 4 days. The Hawks have to be confident heading into tonight’s match-up with home court advantage, but expecting a repeat performance for Atlanta after a 100-92 win in Miami on Monday might be far-fetched. Miami comes off an absolute drubbing of the Indian Pacers last night (118-83), and brings their league-leading scoring offense (108.7 points/game) toe-to-toe with the league’s top rated scoring defense (85.7 points/game). Hitting up the Sportsbetting Sportsbook for today’s NBA wagers, I’m looking for Miami to come correct and even the season series with the Hawk with a road victory covering the points spread at -2, as the Heat find a way to overcome the Hawks stifling defensive efforts. For the second pick on the day, find a great in-state clash between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs as the Mavs pull out of their slow start and seek a third straight victory. They’ll be at an advantage for tonight’s game with the Spurs’ leading scorer Manu Ginobli out of action, and with the Mavericks an underdog at the Sportsbetting Sportsbook (+105 on the money line, +1.5 points to play with against the spread), both bets look to be favorable picks for tonight’s showdown between rivals. Lastly for the NBA, take a look at the online sports betting lines for the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, as Portland tries to stay unbeaten at home but will face a tough challenge against a Lakers team that has won 4 of 5 and is blooming with the return of Andrew Bynum at center. I’ll look for Kobe Bryant, who has shot lights out at the Rose Garden during his career (33.5 points/game there) to be the X factor for tonight’s game, with Bynum continuing his confident play coming of his 4-game suspension to start the season.
Moving along to other available wagers for Thursday’s foray into online sports betting, turn to one big match-up in NCAA Basketball as the #16-ranked Michigan Wolverines face the #12 Indiana Hoosiers. These two sides haven’t met while both being ranked since 1997, making this match-up extra special for College Hoops fans, and with the form Indiana has already shown this year against ranked opponents at home, the edge has to side with the Hoosiers for tonight’s game from the get-go. With both teams excelling due to excellent defense, but Indiana shooting lights-out on the year (5th in the nation shooting %50.2 from the floor, 6th in the nation averaging 82.6 points/game), I definitely like Indiana to pull to victory at home, but expect a much tighter game than the -7.5 points against the Hoosiers suggests. Expect Michigan to hedge their game plan on smothering defense, and make this game interesting enough for them to cover the spread tonight by a slim margin.
Lastly for betting on sports on Thursday, I’ve got a couple of extra duckets lined up for a few choice NHL Hockey contests, as with 9 games on the horizon there should be at least one or two favorable match-ups worth chasing today. Looking once again to ride the hottest hand in play, my first wager will be on the game between the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning, which could see plenty of scoring tonight up North in a close contest. With Ottawa grabbing 22 of their last 26 home games against Tampa, and also playing very well in come-from-behind situations, I’ll look for the Sens to pull out their 4th straight victory and break out from the trend of tight games by beating the Lightning 4-2 to mimic the score of the last game between the two teams back on December 5th. Catch another classic match-up as the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers meet in Philly for the first time since Chicago raised the Stanley Cup there in 2010, in what should be a gritty contest that goes down to the final seconds. Philly has absolutely owned Chicago on its home ice during the regular season, winning 8 straight games, but with these two teams very evenly matched coming in this year, I’ll play it safe and bank on a low-scoring game to stay under 5.5 goals at +110 odds as Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has defended well against Chicago during his career, and Chicago’s back-up goalie (and tonight’s starter) Ray Emery should be intent on playing better against his former teammates and keep the scoring down. With more great games for NHL Hockey including the Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers at the New York Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets facing the Toronto Maple Leafs, hockey fans in particular certainly have a number of great looks for online sports betting on Thursday at the Sportsbetting Sportsbook. However, with a couple choice match-ups across NBA and NCAA Basketball as well, look for a quiet day on the sports betting scene to be a great chance to hone in on a few of the best betting picks, with the hopes of closing out the week on a bright note.