I said it last week in this space, that if you can pick the right upset, there is a lot of money to be made this time of year.
A week ago, Cornell, a team that pretty much most who follow the ECAC know is one of the top teams, knocked off Quinnipiac at a +220 underdog. Notre Dame swept Michigan and was +165 on Friday night. Pick just those two dogs in a parlay and $100 paid $748. If you nailed all five games (no one on our staff did), it paid nearly 40-to-1, or $4004.97 on a $100 bet.
That was the single biggest parlay payout from this column all season.
It shows that as we creep closer to the postseason, the sportsbooks know bettors want to pound the favorite and thus are cranking up the odds on the underdogs.
This week, four of the five underdogs are significant values, including Boston College and Penn State which are both +190 and No. 20 Omaha at +175.
I say that but from the other side of my mouth remind you that Vegas was built on winners. A lot of these lines are also made to entice. So do your research (I’ll help you along with some trends below) and bet wisely.
You can make your selections on the games listed below as well as others in USCHO Pick ‘Em. Go to social.uscho.com to join the fun!
As usual, a disclaimer:
Understand, this is for entertainment purposes only. USCHO.com is not a licensed gambling platform and no money may be wagered through this site or any subsidiary of USCHO.
All games are the first games when they occur in a two-game series, unless noted.
Enjoy and, if you bet, may you be successful.
(Games marked with an asterisks * have odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook)
No. 9 Massachusetts (-245) at Boston College (+190) *
UMass needs just a single point to clinch at least a share of the Hockey East title, meaning plenty of motivation to wrap things up on Friday night against Boston College.
But the Eagles, fresh off a 3-1 upset on Boston University on Sunday, aren’t ready to roll over just yet. BC needs to take more points than New Hampshire this weekend to be able to host the first round of the Hockey East tournament. Otherwise, they’ll be traveling to New Hampshire for Wednesday’s playoff opener.
BC holds a massive advantage over UMass historically, but of late UMass has been pretty level with BC. The Eagles have won five of the last nine, but the Minutemen have won three of the last four meetings on the road vs. the Eagles.
No. 16 UMass Lowell (-190) at New Hampshire (+145)
Despite a non-conference win last weekend for UMass Lowell over LIU, the River Hawks watched as three teams passed them in the Hockey East standings. And while Lowell can still finish tied for first, the league standings are so jumbled that they could also drop to sixth and have to play a first-round game on Wednesday.
New Hampshire is actually an opponent that has given the River Hawks problems in recent years. UNH has won three straight including a 3-0 shutout on February 13. Lowell has just one win in the last eight (1-4-3).
This weekend, though, with a lot on the line, you’d like to think the River Hawks, one of the most successful teams in Hockey East in the month of March (33-20-4) in the last decade, will produce.
No. 10 St. Cloud State (-105) at No. 11 Minnesota Duluth (-125) *
Of the five series we preview this week, none is a close as this one between St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth. Neither team is exactly hot of late. Though St. Cloud swept Colorado College a week ago, they are 2-2-1 in their last five and 3-5-4 in their last 12. The Bulldogs are must better, posting a 1-3-1 mark in the last five and 3-6-2 in the last 11.
Both of these teams are crawling towards the NCHC finish line. So where lies the edge in this series?
Well, you should be able to count on a low-scoring game in this one, so I do like under 5.5 goals (-125 at DraftKings). But these two clubs battled to ties in each of their last two games (1-1 on Feb. 22, 2-2 on Feb. 8) and there isn’t a lot of trends to follow based on game location.
Honestly, other than the over-under, this feels like a game that I would actually avoid.
No. 4 North Dakota (-225) at No. 20 Omaha (+175) *
There is a good reason that North Dakota is a heavy favorite here as the Fighting Hawks have won six straight and are in position to clinch the NCHC title outright with a regulation win on Friday.
But how can we overlook Omaha. The Mavericks swept St. Cloud State two weeks ago and then split at home against Denver last weekend.
Add in the fact that the last team to beat North Dakota was Omaha, a 3-2 overtime win on February 5. It’s tough to bet against North Dakota right now, but I’ve certainly outlined a few reasons why you would.
Penn State (+190) at No. 12 Ohio State (-245) * Big Ten quarterfinal, game one
Ohio State went 3-1-0 in the regular season against Penn State and all three wins weren’t close (6-0, 4-1, 5-2). So it makes sense that bookmakers are making the Buckeyes a heavy favorite.
But the Buckeyes limped to the close of the Big Ten season, losing their last four (albeit to Michigan and Minnesota).
While I like Ohio State to come out on top over three games, I’m not shocked if Penn State is able to steal one of the three. The question we ponder here is will it back game one?
Pick records to date:
Matthew Semisch – 53-28 (4-1)
Ed Trefzger – 51-30 (3-2)
Chris Lerch – 51=30 (3-2)
Jim Connelly – 50-31 (2-3)
Dan Rubin – 48-33 (3-2)
Drew Claussen – 47-34 (3-2)
Paula Weston – 45-36 (3-2)
John Doyle – 42-39 (0-5)
Nate Owen – 41-40 (4-1)
Jack Hittinger – 40-41 (1-4)