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Alabama football coach Nick Saban is preparing for his 13th A-Day spring game in Tuscaloosa, which will take place Saturday afternoon and be televised on ESPN2.

Less-than-Fab 4 Picks

I have nothing for you. We were better than 60 percent over combined from 2011-to-2018. Against the number.

This has been a train wreck and the only thing to do is go back to the basics. Bet who you believe you know. Lines that look too good to be true usually are too good to be true. Trains crash. The only things that are due are postage and library books.

In addition to the picks losing confidence by the week, last week's sweeping rain offered no favors for us.

Again, no excuses, and if you want to fade our offerings, that is certainly understandable.

But pickers gotta pick. Just ask Spaulding Smails.

Tennessee minus-11.5 over UAB. Hard not to be impressed with UT's effort last week. And here's betting the Vols — more than any other Power 5 conference team in the country — are not going to sleepwalk against anyone for the foreseeable future.

Baylor minus-17 over West Virginia. There are a couple of things here that play well for the Bears. One, last year the Mountaineers hammered Baylor and paybacks are tough in a conference this wide open. This one feels like a Halloween party at home for Matt Ruhle and Co. Here's betting the unbeaten Baylor Bears embrace the stage tonight and put on a show.

Indiana minus-11.5 over Northwestern. The Wildcats offensively are dreadful. Dread Pirate Roberts-level dreadful. In their three road games so far, Northwestern has scored 22 points. Total. Since a week two, 30-14 win over UNLV, the Wildcats have scored, 10, 15, 10, 3, and bagel. Indiana has lost twice this year — to THE Ohio State and Michigan State.

MTSU minus-3 at Charlotte and over 64. Buy the hook and please do not tell all-around Chattanooga good dude Will Healy we're riding the other side because of continuity. And because the Charlotte defense is quite spotty, allowing 39.3 per game, which is better only than New Mexico State and UMass.

Bowling Green minus-6 over Akron. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. It was four weeks ago that we discussed picking losers as opposed to picking winners. As much as I personally like Tom Arth, his first year with the Zips is an unmitigated disaster. The last time Akron found the end zone was Sept. 28 — against UMass, which has the worst defense in the country. Know this: No matter the line, I will be on the opposite side of the Zips for the rest of the year. Considering the circumstances, you have to believe Arth is already clearing the decks and playing as many young dudes as possible, right?

Memphis minus-5.5 over SMU. SMU is one of the few teams I have read fairly consistently this year. Home field Saturday night for the Tigers matters. SMU star wide out Reggie Roberson (43 catches, 806 yards and 6 TDs) not playing — he was hurt in last week's win over Houston and his absence was one of the main reasons SMU's cover streak stopped — matters more.

Georgia minus-6.5 over Florida. I am on the island here because everyone loves the Gators. Everyone. This line started at 6.5, dipped to 4 and even 3.5, and is now back to a smidge under a TD. Here's my thought/belief on this one: Georgia is ticked; Florida is rather pleased with where they are. Georgia has to have challenged that NFL-laden O-Line against a speed-based Florida front seven. I'll ride with a somewhat angry, especially motivated Kirby Smart, who has to have heard the whispers about his acumen on Saturdays. And I'll always ride with D"Andre Swift, who will be your SEC offensive player of the week next Monday. Pro tip: Wait on this one because the line will dip again, and here's betting the in-game wagering on this puppy will be quite 'entertaining.'    

Last week: 1-4 against the spread (20 percent)

This season: 28-31 against the spread (47.5 percent)

 


World champs in Washington

It was a great series that defied traditional sports logic. Well, actually it continued the recent run of totally devaluing the notion of home-field edge in the biggest games of team sports that decide their champs with series.

Home teams are 2-7 in the last nine Game 7s of the World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals. This year, the road teams in the Series, the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup are 17-3. Yes, 17-3.

Last night the continued trend led Washington/Montreal to its first world title in franchise history.

It was a statistical oddity — the road team won every game — but the main takeaway for me is clear. The Nationals faced elimination five times in this postseason — and trailed in each of those win-or-pack-the-gear games — and delivered each time.

Enjoy the moment, Nats fans. (Can't help but feel sorry for old-school Montreal Expos fans, you know. Think of the heartbreak in the last quarter century: In 1994, the Expos were the best team in baseball — and it was not close — and the strike canceled the season. Now 25 years later, the Nationals win it all.

The future is unknown for the Nats. Anthony Rendon is a free agent and will get a quarter-of-a-billion contract and Series MVP Stephen Strasburg is likely to opt out and test the waters.

Enjoy the moment. It was assuredly unexpected.

It was unexpected when the Nats started 19-31.

It was unexpected when the Nats faced the best receiver in the game down two with four outs left and beat the Brewers.

It was unexpected when the Nats went salami in extra innings to eliminate the Dodgers.

It was unexpected at times in Games 6 and 7 in Houston.

Now it's a reality. Congrats.

 


Bad break  

OK, the Golden State Warriors must have made a deal with the devil five or six years ago before becoming the mini-dynasty.

Steph Curry broke his left hand last night and will miss extended time.

It was going to be a struggle with KD hitting the road and Klay likely to miss the season with that knee injury.

Now, no Steph on a team that was already struggling.

How bad has this start been by comparison? Well, in the three years the Warriors won a title under Steve Kerr, Golden State trailed by 30 points in all of three games. Three — out of 246 games. In four games this season, Golden State has trailed by 30 or more in three of them.  

Again, now Steph is out.

Maybe it's a benefit. Sit them all and tank the year. Get a top-five pick and reload the roster.

Think about a top-five pick — and athletic front court guy — with Steph, Klay, Draymond and DeAngelo Russell?

Rebuilt in a hurry.

 


This and that

— Speaking of picks, here's TFP college football guru David Paschall's picks for the weekend.

— Wow, Mattress Mack lost $13 million when the Nats clinched last night. And I think my run of bad picks is harsh. That's a bad beat, friends.

— Here's betting that Gus Malzahn is not going to invite former NFL GM Michael Lombardi to his next trip to the Waffle House. Wowser.

— Awful story here. Former AL MVP Josh Hamilton turned himself in to authorities on a felony charge of injuring a child. The child was his daughter. Hamilton, as much as any great athlete in the modern era, has been forever haunted by demons.

— While we are here, I'm on San Fran tonight laying the 9.5.

— The Jamal Adams story is tiring. Dude feels hurt/betrayed because the Jets GM took calls and listened to offers about the All-Pro safety. Adams opened with "They went behind my back." No Jamal, they answered the phone and did their job. Adams doubled-down with "Rams don't take calls on Aaron Douglas; Patriots don't take calls on Tom Brady." Actually, I bet both of those front offices take calls on everyone, because if the Bengals — or even the Jets — were dumb enough to offer four 1s for anyone, well, you gotta listen Jamal. Hey, I love Jamal Adams. Dude plays so hard and is excellent. But everyone is getable in the NFL. Everyone.    

 


Today's questions

Let's explore that last statement with our opening question: Is there anyone in the NFL that is completely untouchable? Mahomes maybe, but if the Texans called with Watson AND Hopkins, what do you say?

I think the NBA is the closest thing to untraceable dudes, but even then, I'm not so sure. Is Giannis as untouchable as anyone? If you take away the no-trade clauses, because honestly who wants to play in Milwaukee, if the Clippers offered Kawhi and a 1 for Giannis, that's enough right?

This all Hallow's Eve is tied to a few all-time greats in their field who left this world too soon.

Harry Houdini — arguably the most famous magician/escape artist ever — died on this day. He was 52.
River Phoenix died on this day in 1993. He was 23.

John Candy — one of my favorite comedic actors ever — was born on this day in 1950. He died in 1994 at the age of 43. Not sure who has a better tandem of hilariously heart-felt movies than Candy with "Uncle Buck" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". And know that Candy's Rushmore with those two and scene-stealing turns in "Stripes" and "National Lampoon's Vacation" is all-time strong.

Vanilla Ice is 52 today. So there's that, too.

But this day is for costumes and candy and a tip of the straw hat to one of the best college coaches regardless of sport ever.

Nick Saban is 68 today. Interested how you rank these three dudes in order of best to third best: Lord Saban, John Wooden (The Wizard of Westwood) and Geno the Great.

Rushmore of Nick. Go. And remember the mailbag, friends.
 

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