What’s On Tap: The Week Ahead In Sports Betting: College Football Championship Weekend, Seahawks-Washington, And NBA Preseason Wraps Up

Each Monday, our “What’s On Tap,” series will preview the week ahead in the world of sports betting. Come here for a summary of upcoming financial happenings, legislative and regulatory meetings, industry conferences, top games scheduled for the week, and much more. Also, check out our weekly review Get A Grip and Wide World of Gambling at US Bets for a look back at last week’s relevant news.

Monday, December 14

Key clash between AFC North rivals on MNF

The rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns has been one-sided since the late 1990s, several years after former Browns owner Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore. Since the Browns resumed operations in 1999, the Ravens have won 32 of 43 games between the two teams. But the Browns (9-3) maintain a two-game lead over the Ravens in the AFC Wild Card race heading into Monday night’s clash. With a 41-35 win over the Titans in Week 13, the Browns clinched a winning season for the first time since 2007. The Ravens are three-point favorites on the Vegas consensus line.

Wednesday, December 16

Webinar provides insight into college football postseason betting trends

A panel convened by Ohio University’s AECOM Center for Sports Administration will host a webinar Wednesday afternoon focused on sports betting patterns for the upcoming bowl season. The panel will feature several industry experts including: U.S. Integrity President Matt Holt, Bowl Season Executive Director Nick Carparelli, and ESPN Sports Betting Analyst Doug Kezirian. Several prominent schools headlined by Boston College, Stanford, and Pitt, have already opted out of bowl season due to COVID-19. The center currently offers a certificate program in sports gambling education.

Friday, December 18

Trojans look to sneak into College Football Playoff

Conference Championship weekend kicks off with a matchup between USC and Oregon (which is replacing North winner Washington, which doesn’t have enough scholarship players available due to COVID-19) in the PAC-12 Championship Game. USC needed a late rally last Saturday to upend rival UCLA 43-38 at the Rose Bowl. The Trojans took the lead for the good on a touchdown catch by Amon-Ra St. Brown with 16 seconds left. USC opened as 6.5-point favorites at FanDuel. Currently ranked No. 15 in the CFP, USC is unlikely to catapult into the final CFP spot. Though the Trojans are unbeaten at 5-0 — just like current No. 4 Ohio State — they have been forced to pull out several close wins this year, while the Buckeyes’ average margin of victory this season is 23.4 points per game.

Saturday, December 19

Clemson seeks revenge against Notre Dame in Charlotte

A shocking loss by Florida to LSU puts both teams in strong position to qualify for the four-team College Football Playoff, regardless of Saturday’s outcome in the ACC Championship. The Irish outlasted then No. 1 Clemson 47-40 on Nov. 7 in double overtime. The Tigers opened as seven-point favorites. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence missed the first meeting in South Bend while recovering from COVID-19.

At the moment, the top four teams, Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Ohio State, appear to be in good shape to land spots in the playoff. No. 4 Ohio State opened as a heavy 20.5-point favorite over No. 14 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship. Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State all enter the weekend undefeated. No. 5 Texas A&M, meanwhile, is a 14-point favorite over Tennessee on the Vegas consensus line. The Aggies could benefit from losses by Ohio State and Clemson on Saturday.

Final games of the NBA preseason

A truncated preseason ends on Saturday with three games on the slate, including a matchup between the Magic and Hornets in Orlando. Despite going scoreless in his NBA debut on Dec. 12, Hornets guard LaMelo Ball flashed his potential with nifty ball-handling skills in a 111-100 loss to the Raptors. Ball, the younger brother of Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, was taken by Charlotte with the third overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ball is the slight favorite (+400) to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors at DraftKings, ahead of Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards.

Other candidates for Rookie of the Year

  • Killian Hayes, guard, Pistons, +600
  • Obi Toppin, forward, Knicks, +600
  • James Wiseman, center, Warriors, +600
  • Deni Avdija, forward, Wizards, +1500
  • Tyrese Haliburton, guard, Kings, +1500
  • Bol Bol, forward, Nuggets, +2500
  • Cole Anthony, guard, Magic, +3000
  • Theo Maledon, guard, Thunder, +10000

Sunday, December 20

Washington nears NFC East title

Fresh off Sunday’s victory over San Francisco, Washington (6-7) will look to tighten its grip on the NFC East lead in Week 15. A win by Washington over Seattle coupled with a defeat by the Giants against the Browns will increase Washington’s lead to two games with two weeks remaining. As of Monday afternoon, Washington remained overwhelming favorites at BetMGM to win the division. The Washington Football Team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2015, and hasn’t had a winning regular-season record since 2012. Despite their subpar records, the Eagles (4-8) and Cowboys (4-9) are still in contention.

Have a good week, everyone!

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