30 Apr

Top DraftKings, FanDuel daily Fantasy basketball picks for Monday, Apr. 29 include Michael Porter Jr.

Outside of similar names, Nikola Jovic will never be confused with Nikola Jokic, but the former is having a nice coming-out party in the 2024 NBA playoffs. Jovic has been a solid addition to NBA DFS lineups with averages of 12 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks versus the stacked Boston frontcourt of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis. He’s helped keep Miami in its series against the Celtics with Jimmy Butler sidelined, and Jovic could again be an undervalued NBA DFS pick for Monday on sites like FanDuel and DraftKings.

There are other low-cost but potentially high-reward options in Monday’s NBA DFS player pool such as Luguentz Dort and Trey Murphy III. Pairing these economical players with the top-end superstars is a tried-and-true NBA DFS strategy that has produced winning lineups. Before making your NBA DFS picks, be sure to check out the NBA DFS advice, player rankings, stacks, and top daily Fantasy basketball picks from SportsLine’s Mike McClure.

McClure is a DFS professional with more than $2 million in career winnings. He’s also a predictive data engineer at SportsLine who uses a powerful prediction model that simulates every minute of every game 10,000 times, taking factors like matchups, statistical trends and injuries into account.

This allows him to find the best NBA DFS values and create optimal lineups that he shares only over at SportsLine. They’re a must-see for any NBA DFS player.

On Thursday (when he last made picks), McClure highlighted Lakers forward LeBron James as one of his top picks in his NBA DFS player pool on both sites. The result: James had 26 points, nine assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block, returning 52 points on DraftKings and 52.7 points on FanDuel. Anybody who included him in their lineups was well on the way to a profitable day.

McClure has turned his attention to NBA action on Monday and locked in his top daily Fantasy basketball picks. You can only see them by heading to SportsLine.

Top NBA DFS picks for Monday, April 29
For Monday, one of McClure’s top NBA DFS picks is rostering Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. who is listed at $6,600 on DraftKings and $7,100 on FanDuel. The talented sharpshooter has often been criticized for his inconsistency, but you can’t say that about his play versus the Lakers. Porter has at least 19 points and eight rebounds in all four games of the series and is coming off back-to-back double-doubles. He had a 20-10 stat line in Game 3, a 27-11 line in Game 4, and this marks just the fourth time all season he’s posted consecutive double-doubles.

Porter has increased his scoring in every game this series and is knocking down a blistering 44.1% from beyond the arc in the postseason. He also torched the Lakers in the regular season with averages of 21.3 points and 10 rebounds across three games, so he seems to have Los Angeles’ number. He has four double-doubles across seven games against the Lakers this year, compared to 12 double-doubles in his other 78 games of the regular plus post-season.

Another part of McClure’s optimal NBA DFS strategy includes rostering Pelicans forward Herbert Jones ($5,200 on DraftKings and $5,700 on FanDuel). The third-year pro made a leap in the regular season, thanks to increasing his 3-point percentage from 34% last year to 42% this year. He then made another leap in the 2024 NBA playoffs and is averaging 16.5 points over the last two games, compared to 11 ppg in the regular season. Jones has also logged seven rebounds in two of the three games, after posting at least seven boards in just seven of 76 regular-season contests.

Jones is known for his defense as he’s ranked in the top 12 of the NBA in steals per game in all three of his pro seasons, but he’s also found his offense against the Thunder. Over his last five games versus OKC dating back to last season, he’s scored at least 14 points four times and will continue to be a focal point of the offense with Zion Williamson (hamstring) sidelined. For someone listed outside the top eight most expensive SFs on both DraftKings and FanDuel, Jones presents great value for NBA DFS lineups. See McClure’s other NBA DFS picks right here.

How to set your NBA DFS lineups for Monday, April 29
McClure is also targeting a player who could go off for massive numbers on Monday because of a dream matchup. This pick could be the difference between winning your tournaments and cash games or going home with nothing. You can only see who it is here.

Who is DFS pro Mike McClure putting in his optimal NBA DFS lineups for Monday? Visit SportsLine now to see optimal NBA DFS picks, rankings, advice, and stacks, all from a professional DFS player who has over $2 million in career winnings, and find out.

30 Apr

2024 NBA playoff picks, Game 4 best bets from proven model

The No. 8 seed Miami Heat are hosting the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics in a prime-time Game 4 showdown on Monday. With Boston up 2-1, this contest can greatly shift this 2024 NBA playoffs series in the Celtics’ favor with a win. The Heat went 22-19 at home during the regular season, while Boston had a 27-14 record on the road. Terry Rozier (neck), Jimmy Butler (knee), and Josh Richardson (shoulder) are all out for the Heat.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET at the Kaseya Center in Miami. The Celtics are 10.5-point favorites in the latest Celtics vs. Heat odds via SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 203.5. Before making any Heat vs. Celtics picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters the third week of the 2024 NBA playoffs on a sizzling 92-61 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning more than $2,600. Anyone following the model has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Celtics vs. Heat and just locked in its picks and Game 4 predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several NBA betting lines and trends for Heat vs. Celtics:

Celtics vs. Heat spread: Boston -10.5
Celtics vs. Heat over/under: 203.5 points
Celtics vs. Heat money line: Boston -526, Miami +391
BOS: The Celtics are 15-5 in their last 20 games on the road
MIA: The Heat are 5-10 ATS in their past 15 games at home
Celtics vs. Heat picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Celtics can cover
One of the top reasons Boston is a tough team to beat is due to its depth. Forward Jaylen Brown generates an impact every time he steps onto the court as he knows how to create scoring opportunities for himself and others. He thrives driving down the lane and is producing 24 points, eight rebounds, and 2.3 assists in the playoffs. Brown’s finished with 22-plus points in consecutive games.

Center Kristaps Porzingis is a unique difference maker. He stands at 7-foot-2, which allows him to hover around the basket. He is a stout defender and a smooth scorer who uses his crisp jumper to space the floor. Porzingis is supplying 14 points, 5.7 rebounds, and two blocks per contest in the postseason. Additionally, he’s making 41% of his 3-pointers. In his last outing, Porzingis had 18 points and five boards. See which team to back at SportsLine.

Why the Heat can cover
The Heat go as center Bam Adebayo goes. Adebayo brings plenty of energy on both ends of the floor. The 26-year-old is able to dominate from the mid-range area to the paint consistently. Thus far in the first round, Adebayo has logged 21.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. In Miami’s Game 2 victory, he racked up 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Guard Tyler Herro gives the squad an athletic scorer on the perimeter. Herro owns a sweet jumper to stretch out defenses but is fearless in attacking the lane. The 24-year-old also has great vision as a playmaker. He’s second on the team in points (16.7) with a team-high 6.7 assists per game in the 2024 NBA playoffs. His best performance came in Game 2, as Herro had 24 points and 14 assists. See which team to back at SportsLine.

How to make Heat vs. Celtics picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 210 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits in 60% of simulations. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

So who wins Celtics vs. Heat, and which side of the spread hits 60% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Heat vs. Celtics spread you need to jump on, all from the model on a 92-61 roll on top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.

30 Apr

Kevin Durant wasn’t comfortable with his role in Phoenix this season, per report

The Phoenix Suns had another disappointing exit from the NBA playoffs, this time in the first round after the Minnesota Timberwolves swept them in four games. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Suns have exited the postseason short of expectations, and while that’s true of all teams who don’t win a championship, Phoenix has managed to lose spectacularly in each of their past three playoff exits.

But unlike the last two seasons, where Phoenix proved to be more dominant in the regular season, the Suns this season never really took off. Injuries certainly played a role, with Bradley Beal missing 29 games due to various ailments. But even when the team was fully healthy, the Suns only looked dominant over a couple of games at a time. All three of Phoenix’s stars, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Beal were putting up solid numbers, but it was only good enough to finish sixth in the Western Conference. Some of that may be just an adjustment period and learning from a new coach, but The Athletic is reporting that Durant wasn’t entirely happy with how he was being used on offense this season.

“Sources briefed on the matter told The Athletic that Durant never felt comfortable with his role in Phoenix’s offense alongside Booker and Beal this season. Those sources said Durant had persistent issues with the offense, feeling that he was being relegated to the corner far too often and not having the proper designs to play to his strengths as the offense was built around pick-and-rolls.”

Durant took the most corner 3s of his career this season, totaling 68 corner 3-point attempts. That may not be a lot for guys whose job it is to sit in the corner and knock down 3s, but considering that prior to this year, K.D. averaged around 23.2 corner 3s over his career, that’s a significant rise. And while he was knocking them down at a 46% clip, which ranked in the 93rd percentile, that’s not the best use of someone of Durant’s generational talents.

But while Durant wasn’t happy with being relegated to the corner often, The Athletic also reports that those close to the Suns organization felt K.D. could’ve voiced his concerns more often with the coaching staff. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that there was some miscommunication going on. How that plays out going forward remains to be seen. We’ve already seen the Suns make a change at head coach after firing Monty Williams at the end of last season and bringing in Vogel. And while Vogel said ahead of Game 4’s loss that he has “full support” of Suns owner Mat Ishbia, The Athletic reports that Phoenix plans on taking a look at either bringing in a new coach or changing up the assistant coaches that report to Vogel.

Whatever happens in Phoenix, it’s clear that no one in the Valley of the Sun is happy with how this season played out. Despite all the talent that exists at the top of the roster, the Timberwolves exposed the lack of depth on this team. Unfortunately, due to all the money tied up between Booker, Beal, Durant and Grayson Allen, who signed an extension recently, finding quality players won’t be easy as the Suns are already well into the luxury tax for next season. It’ll be an important offseason for the Suns to prove they can build a quality contender, otherwise guys like Booker and Durant could be asking out if things don’t get better.

Looking for more NBA coverage? John Gonzalez, Bill Reiter, Ashley Nicole Moss and special guests dive deep into the league’s biggest storylines daily on the Beyond the Arc podcast.

27 Mar

Play for prizes, create your own NCAA Tournament game now

The 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket is set for both the men’s and women’s versions, so fans are filling out their March Madness brackets and joining March Madness pools. While rooting for your team to cut down the nets might be the primary reason to follow the madness, cheering on your NCAA Tournament bracket picks adds another layer of excitement. Top overall seed UConn is trying to become the first repeat winner in the men’s bracket since Florida in 2006-07, while South Carolina is trying to cap off a perfect season in the women’s bracket. Picking the correct champion is the starting point of winning any NCAA Tournament pool.

Another key to coming out on top in NCAA Tournament challenges is identifying early-round upsets and March Madness Cinderella teams who could win multiple games. Upsets are generally less common in the women’s bracket, but there are still underrated teams that could help you beat your friends and family in March Madness bracket games. With the action so close, now is the time to set up your 2024 March Madness pool.

If you’re looking for a NCAA Tournament bracket game home, CBS Sports is a great option get set up. You can play Bracket Games on the CBS Sports App for free and you could win big prizes.* Sign up right here.

There are CBS Sports NCAA Bracket Challenges for the men’s and women’s tournaments and there’s a trip to each respective 2025 Final Four on the line in both challenges. It’s easy to qualify for those epic trips. For the Men’s Challenge, simply click this link, click the “Join Now” button and enter.* Fill out your men’s bracket after it is revealed on Sunday, March 17 at 6 p.m. ET, and the winner of the trip to the 2025 Final Four will be chosen from among the entrants.

Anyone who enters both the Men’s CBS Sports Bracket Challenge and Women’s CBS Sports Bracket Challenge will also be entered for a chance to win a brand new Nissan Rogue. The men’s bracket deadline is scheduled for March 21 at noon ET, while the women’s bracket deadline is on March 22 at 11:30 a.m. ET.

To be eligible, simply follow the steps above to join the Men’s Challenge and then join the Women’s Challenge here. All you have to do to be eligible to win the Nissan Rogue is join both, even if your brackets get completely busted.

2024 NCAA Tournament Men’s teams to watch
Now that you know where to play 2024 NCAA Men’s Bracket Games, here are some teams to watch as the 2024 NCAA Tournament approaches:

North Carolina Tar Heels: The Tar Heels rank second in all-time NCAA Tournament wins (131) and win percentage (.728), making 21 trips to the Final Four. They have won six national titles, with their latest championship coming in 2017. Head coach Hubert Davis was named the ACC Coach of the Year, while RJ Davis was the ACC Player of the Year after leading the conference in scoring with 21.4 points per game.

Oregon Ducks: The winners of the final ever Pac 12 Tournament, Oregon enters the 2024 NCAA Tournament at 23-11. This will be the first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2021 for the Ducks and eighth tournament bid since Dana Altman took over the program in 2010-11. Senior big N’Faly Dante went a perfect 12-for-12 from the field in a win over Colorado last Saturday and finished with 25 points and nine rebounds. Dante led the Ducks in scoring average (16.2 points per game) and rebounding (8.8 rebounds per game) this season and he’ll be a handful inside for any team that draws the Ducks in the Big Dance. Join the CBS Sports 2024 NCAA Men’s Bracket Game here.

2024 NCAA Tournament Women’s teams to watch
Now that you know where to play 2024 NCAA Women’s Bracket Games, here are some teams to watch as the 2024 NCAA Tournament approaches:

Iowa Hawkeyes: The Hawkeyes earned their first No. 1 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament bracket since 1992 after finishing 29-4 and winning the Big Ten Tournament. They are led by star Caitlin Clark, who has already broken multiple records and is just 56 points shy of setting the record for most points in a single season. She is the all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division I history, and Iowa is riding a six-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament.

USC Trojans: USC finished second behind Stanford in the Pac-12 regular-season standings with a 13-5 record in conference play, but it got its revenge with a 74-61 win over Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament title game. The Trojans also picked up wins over Arizona and UCLA during the conference tournament, giving them a five-game winning streak entering the NCAA Tournament. They have already won five games against top-10 teams this season, establishing themselves as legitimate contenders to cut down the nets. Join the 2024 Women’s Bracket Game here.

How to enter 2024 NCAA Men’s & Women’s Bracket Games
Ready to set up your 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket pools? Join the 2024 NCAA Bracket Games right here for a shot at a trip to the 2025 Final Four. Don’t forget to enter the Women’s Bracket Games as well for a chance to win a new Nissan Rogue.

27 Mar

Ranking today’s best games, plus last-minute bracket advice

This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

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🏀 Good morning to everyone but especially …

With No. 16 Grambling State (over Montana State) and No. 10 Colorado (over Boise State) winning Wednesday to wrap up the First Four, the first round of the men’s NCAA Tournament is officially upon us.

As much fun as filling out your bracket is, watching the madness unfold, no matter who you chose, is awesome. Plain and simple. David Cobb ranked the first-round games 1-32, and the top three are all today.

“(5) Gonzaga vs. (12) McNeese — Gonzaga is seeking to reach a ninth straight Sweet 16. McNeese, coached by the once-disgraced Will Wade, is seeking its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. These Zags have less zip than usual, and the Cowboys have the talent and path needed to win more than once in this tournament.”
“(4) Kansas vs. (13) Samford — The Jayhawks are perilously light on depth and must face a Samford team that is the deepest in the tournament and determined to press on every possession.”
“(3) Kentucky vs. (14) Oakland — Oakland upset Xavier on the road and played competitive games with Ohio State and Illinois. Considering Kentucky lost to UNC Wilmington at home this season, the Wildcats aren’t 100% trustworthy against a team of this caliber.”
If you’re still debating who to pick, our experts have picked all of today’s games, and of course we have our expert brackets and my 63 picks in 63 sentences.

If there’s one more thing you cannot miss, it’s Matt Norlander’s annual collection of numbers and stats to know. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Norlander: “0: Infamously, no team has lost its first conference tournament game and then won a national title. This year, you should be suspicious of Alabama, Creighton, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Duke. … 10-15: Pick at least one double-digit seed to reach the Sweet 16, because it has happened all but two years since ’85 (1995, 2007). And 16 times there have been at least three double-digit seeds that made it to the regional semifinals.”
Here’s the best of the rest of our most recent content:

Full preview of today’s action
Guards win in March. Here are 10 of the very best.
Speaking of guards, Braden Smith is the key to Purdue’s redemption.
Every team has flaws … even the No. 1 seeds.
I handed out superlatives among the tournament teams.
And if you’ve missed anything or want to read anything — really, anything, because we have covered it all — here’s all of the outstanding work our college basketball writers have put in. Enjoy the madness!

👍 Honorable mentions
Kevin Durant passes Shaquille O’Neal for eighth in the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Caitlin Clark leads the way in the women’s AP All-America team.
The (16) Presbyterian and (12) Vanderbilt women won their first First Four games.
Caleb Williams had a (likely) future teammate at his pro day: Keenan Allen.
Jon Rahm’s Masters Champions Dinner menu looks delicious.
Mitchell Robinson practiced fully for the first time since December.
The Browns signed D’Onta Foreman.
Alex Rodriguez found funding for the final payment of his purchase of the Timberwolves.
The USMNT faces Jamaica in a Concacaf Nations League semifinal on Paramount+. Here’s our preview.
Here are the Olympic soccer draws for the USMNT and the USWNT.
😳 And not such a good morning for …
Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani’s season is off to one of the strangest and scariest starts we’ve ever seen away from the diamond. One day after being the target of a bomb threat ahead of the season opener, Ohtani has allegedly been the victim of “massive theft” in the range of millions of dollars, his attorneys say. The alleged thief is none other than his longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, whom the Dodgers fired Wednesday in light of the allegations. Mizuhara had been by Ohtani’s side, literally, since Ohtani joined the Angels in 2017.

That’s just the start.

Ohtani and his representatives say Mizuhara stole funds from Ohtani in order to place bets with an illegal bookmaker. That bookmaker, Mathew Bowyer, is the target of a federal investigation. The Los Angeles Times had been investigating the matter, and when Ohtani’s name came up, Ohtani’s lawyers looked into things and discovered the alleged theft.
Bowyer’s lawyer said Bowyer has never met with or talked to Ohtani. Ohtani is not facing any sort of discipline.
Mizuhara, however, had a different explanation. He said he asked Ohtani to cover more than $4.5 million in gambling debts, and Ohtani did so. Mizuhara added he thought bets placed through Bowyer were legal and Ohtani had no involvement with the betting.
Mizuhara then changed his story, saying that Ohtani didn’t know about Mizuhara’s gambling and that Ohtani never transferred money to Bowyer’s associate. Mizuhara then added he never betted on baseball, which is prohibited for MLB team employees by the league.
👎 Not so honorable mentions
Draymond Green was involved in another scuffle.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto got shelled in his Dodgers debut
Ausar Thompson’s season is over due to a blood clot.
Matt McLain (shoulder) is likely out for Opening Day.
Asa Lacy (Tommy John surgery) is out for the year.
Did James Harden really try to block an in-game shot attempt by Kawhi Leonard?
🏀 The 15 NBA teams that can win a title, broken down into tiers
Getty Images
I know college basketball is all the rage right now, but the NBA playoffs are less than a month away. Bill Reiter says 15 teams belong in the title conversation, and he broke those 15 down into six tiers. The Celtics and Nuggets are in a tier by themselves, and rightfully so. I think the tier that intrigues me most is …

Reiter: “Tier 4: They have a shot despite real question marks — The New York Knicks. The Cleveland Cavaliers. The Los Angeles Clippers. The New Orleans Pelicans. … The Pelicans have been sneaky great. They’re also in the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating, Zion Williamson has been healthy and in great shape, and .. have won seven of their past eight. … Zion, and the Pelicans, have felt like fool’s gold the past few years, but there’s belief in New Orleans they may be close to cashing as a team they’ve always believed could be, contenders if only their superstar could stay on the floor.”
🏈 NFL rule proposals: Changes to tackles, kickoffs coming?
NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Wednesday, the NFL submitted proposals for multiple rule changes for the 2024 season.

The first regards making “hip-drop tackles” 15-yard penalties. Here are the details, via Cody Benjamin.

Benjamin: “The proposed definition of an infraction is as follows: When a player ‘grabs the runner with both hands or wraps the runner with both arms’ and ‘unweights himself by swiveling and dropping his hips and/or lower body, landing on and trapping the runner’s legs at or below the knee.’ The penalty would also grant the opposing team an automatic first down.”
Sources told our Jonathan Jones that NFL officials believe they can call it correctly, but the NFLPA isn’t so sure. It’s already so hard to tackle correctly. I don’t love this one.

I like the potential change to kickoffs much more. Let’s set the stage:

Teams kick off from the same spot — their own 35. The 10 players on the coverage team, though, line up at the receiving team’s 40, and nine players on the return team would line up in the “setup zone” between the 35- and 30-yard line. Neither unit can move until the kick hits the ground or a returner.
The returning team has up to two returners in the “return zone,” which stretches from the goal line to the 20-yard line.
There are no fair catches.
As for the kick itself …

If the kick fails to reach the return zone, the returning team gets the ball at its own 40.
If the kick goes through the end zone or is downed inside the end zone on the fly, the returning team gets the ball at its own 35.
If the kick lands in the return zone and then travels into the end zone and is downed in the end zone, the returning team gets the ball at its own 20.
If the ball is fielded in the return zone, it must be returned.
Here it is in picture form.

Basically, we’d get way more action, it would be safer, and there’d be a lot more strategy involved. It would be a fun new element. I’m in favor.

📺 What we’re watching Thursday
🏀 We’re watching the men’s NCAA Tournament … All. Day. Long. Here’s how to do it.
⚽ USMNT vs. Jamaica, 7 p.m. on Paramount+
🏀 Pelicans at Magic, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 No. 11 Arizona vs. No. 11 Auburn (W), 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 No. 16 Holy Cross vs. No. 16 UT Martin (W), 9 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Hawks at Suns, 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏒 Kraken at Golden Knights, 10:30 p.m. on ESPN

27 Mar

Model hands out surprising March Madness 2024 tournament picks

No. 11 seed New Mexico is back in the NCAA Tournament bracket for the first time since 2014, running the table at the Mountain West Tournament last week to earn an automatic bid to the 2024 March Madness bracket. The Lobos knocked off Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State during their impressive run and are a trendy upset pick for Friday’s game against No. 6 seed Clemson. They play at the eighth-fastest pace in college basketball, and their offense ranks in the top 20 nationally in scoring (82.6 points per game). Clemson prefers to play at a slower pace, creating an intriguing matchup that is a difficult decision for 2024 March Madness picks.

Picking first-round 2024 March Madness upsets is one part of building a winning 2024 March Madness strategy, but Final Four picks are much more important. Which teams should you have advancing to Phoenix in your 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket? Before making any 2024 March Madness bracket predictions, be sure to check out the 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket picks from the proven computer model at SportsLine.

Their proven projection model has simulated every game in the tournament 10,000 times. It has absolutely crushed its March Madness picks recently, beating over 92 percent of all CBS Sports brackets three of the past five tournaments. In an upset-laden 2023 NCAA Tournament, the model was all over UConn’s shocking Final Four run as a 4-seed. It went an amazing 23-9 in the first round, including an astounding 12-4 in the Midwest and West regions.

It knows how to spot an upset as well. The same model has produced brackets that have nailed 20 first-round upsets by double-digit seeds since its inception in 2016. There’s simply no reason to rely on luck when there’s proven technology to help you dominate your 2024 March Madness picks.

Now, with the 2024 NCAA bracket revealed, the model is simulating the matchups and its results are in. You can only see it over at SportsLine.

Three 2024 March Madness bracket games to watch
One of the most intriguing 2024 March Madness matchups to watch: No. 5 San Diego State versus No. 12 UAB. The Aztecs are getting set for their fourth straight tournament appearance following their run to the national title game last season, the first in program history. They were a No. 5 seed last year as well, and all three of the 2023 Final Four teams in the 2024 NCAA Tournament field are in the same half of the East Region. This is the first meeting between UAB and San Diego State since 1989, when the Blazers cruised to a 91-46 victory in the championship game of the UAB Classic.

Another 2024 March Madness matchup to keep an eye on is No. 8 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 9 Northwestern in the East Region. These programs are trying to build on their recent unprecedented success when they meet in the Round of 64 on Friday afternoon. Florida Atlantic made a historic run to the Final Four last season, coming up just short against San Diego State on a buzzer-beater, and it returned all five of its starters from that team. Northwestern snapped a 77-year NCAA Tournament drought by making its first appearance in 2017, and it returned last spring when it lost to UCLA in the second round.

Another 2024 March Madness matchup to watch out for: No. 4 seed Auburn will battle No. 13 seed Yale in the East Region. The Bulldogs are seeking their second win in the NCAA Tournament after beating Brown in the Ivy League Tournament title game. They are led by All-Ivy League First Team selection Danny Wolf, who is averaging 14.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He will go head-to-head with Auburn’s Johni Broome, an All-SEC First Team performer who posted 13 double-doubles this season. You can see the model’s 2024 NCAA bracket picks here.

How to make 2024 NCAA bracket predictions
Who wins every tournament-defining matchup? And which teams will make surprising runs through the 2024 NCAA Tournament bracket? With the model’s track record of calling bracket-busting upsets, you’ll want to see which stunners it’s calling this year before locking in any 2024 NCAA bracket picks.

20 Mar

2023 XFL picks, Week 2 bets by proven expert

State rivals square off in the XFL on Sunday when the Arlington Renegades visit TDECU Stadium to take on the Houston Roughnecks in the Texas Throwdown. Both teams aim to start 2-0 after opening the season with home victories in Week 1. Houston has yet to lose an XFL game after going 5-0 during the abbreviated 2020 season. That included a 27-20 road victory against the Renegades, who finished 2-3 that season. Both teams dominated with defense in Week 1, as the Roughnecks cruised to a 33-12 victory against the Orlando Guardians and Arlington edged the Vegas Vipers 22-20.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. Caesars Sportsbook lists Houston as a 4.5-point favorite in the latest Renegades vs. Roughnecks odds, and the over/under for total points scored is set at 39. Before making any Roughnecks vs. Renegades picks, be sure to see the XFL predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s R.J. White.

White, a Fantasy and gambling editor for CBS Sports, consistently crushes against-the-spread picks and went 535-450-30 on his ATS picks from 2017-22, which returned more than $3,500 to $100 players. He also closed the NFL season on an incredible 107-80-6 on his last 193 against-the-spread and total NFL picks during the 2022 NFL season, returning more than $1,800 for $100 bettors.

White has crushed not only the NFL but also the XFL during its abbreviated 2020 season, going 16-4 on XFL ATS picks before the league suspended operations. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now, he has locked in on Roughnecks vs. Renegades and released a confident against-the-spread pick. You can head to SportsLine now to see White’s pick and analysis. Here are the XFL lines and trends for Renegades vs. Roughnecks:

Roughnecks vs. Renegades spread: Houston -4.5
Roughnecks vs. Renegades over/under: 39 points
Roughnecks vs. Renegades money line: Houston -205, Arlington +170
Roughnecks: It scored two touchdowns longer than 25 yards last week
Renegades: Four players had receptions of at least 15 yards in Week 1
Roughnecks vs. Renegades picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Roughnecks can cover
Houston’s defense should be trouble for an Arlington offense that struggled most of last week. The Roughnecks had seven sacks and forced four turnovers as the Roughnecks took a 21-6 lead by halftime and cruised to victory. The Renegades averaged just 2.7 yards per rush, so Houston should be able to focus on getting after Drew Plitt, who was sacked three times in Week 1. Trent Harris was named the XFL Defensive Player of the Week after posting four sacks.

The Roughnecks also were strong on offense and had the Player of the Week on that side of the ball as well. Receiver Deontay Burnett earned that honor with eight catches for 90 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown. That helped quarterback Brandon Silvers throw for 272 yards and two scores, and Jontre Kirklin had 71 yards on just five receptions. The Renegades allowed 10.7 yards per pass against the Vipers, while Houston averaged just under 10 last week.

Why the Renegades can cover
Arlington’s defense was opportunistic last week, and the offense should be able to move the ball. The offense got off to a slow start, but quarterback Drew Plitt and tight end Sal Cannella had an efficient day. Plitt went 19-of-25 for 172 yards, with Cannella catching seven passes for 70 yards. The Auburn product was named to the All-USFL team last season after catching 46 passes for New Orleans. Tyler Vaughns and Brandon Arconado combined for 70 receiving yards.

The Roughnecks defense allowed 4.9 yards per carry against Orlando, so De’Veon Smith and Keith Ford should find openings. They combined for 66 yards on 24 carries in Week 1. If the offense struggles, the defense could bail them out. The unit scored two touchdowns last week, with De’Vante Bausby and Tomasi Laulile returning interceptions for scores. Arlington had seven tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks from Aaron Adeyoe, and held the Vipers to 1.7 yards per rush.

How to make Renegades vs. Roughnecks picks
White has analyzed this matchup and while we can tell you he’s leaning Over on the point total, he has discovered a crucial x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He’s only sharing what it is and which side to back at SportsLine.

20 Mar

Wade Phillips’ Roughnecks down Renegades as home favorites

Welcome to Week 2 of the XFL, and I gotta say, Week 1 was more entertaining than I thought it would be. Out of the four games, three incuded second-half comebacks that ended in thrilling fashion. You can’t make up what happened in the St. Louis Battlehawks vs. San Antonio Brahmas matchup, as A.J. McCarron’s offense scored 15 straight points in the final 1:30 to come back and win. They even converted that fourth-and-15 onside kick to keep the ball and score the game-winning touchdown!

Since CBS Sports pays me the big bucks, it should surprise no one that I went 4-0 ATS. Just kidding, I can’t believe I went 4-0 ATS — especially considering how wild the games ended up being. I know that gambling on Week 2 in the NFL is sometimes very difficult because it’s easy to overreact to what happened in the season openers. I bet that’s even more true for a league like the XFL. Let’s jump in.

ATS record: 4-0
Straight up record: 3-1

XFL Favorites ATS: 2-2

All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook

Arlington Renegades at Houston Roughnecks (-4.5)
Sunday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

The Renegades’ defense landed them in the win column last weekend. It certainly wasn’t because of the offense. Drew Plitt completed 19 of 25 passes for 172 yards and one interception, while the run game averaged 2.7 yards per carry.

As for Houston, the Roughnecks appear to be the best team in the league. Brandon Silvers threw for 272 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Jontre Kirklin caught five passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, and Deontay Burnett caught eight passes for 90 yards and a score. Four-and-a-half points feels like a lot given that we are one week into this thing, but I’m going to take the home favorite.

20 Mar

Former NFL first-round pick Paxton Lynch benched for second straight week in XFL as Guardians fall to 0-2

Paxton Lynch’s XFL experience has not gone as he had hoped. The former NFL first-round pick has been benched in each of his first two starts with the Orlando Guardians, who fell to 0-2 after dropping a 30-12 decision to the San Antonio Brahmas on Sunday.

Things started well enough for Lynch, who was the Broncos’ first-round pick (26th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. In his XFL debut, he threw a touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive against the Houston Roughnecks. He was pulled, however, after throwing a costly interception late in the third quarter of Week 1 with his team trailing by double digits. The Guardians ultimately fell, 33-12.

Sunday’s Week 2 game followed a similar script. Lynch started the game with a touchdown pass but was benched after the Guardians gained a total of one yard on their next two possessions. Lynch was relieved in both games by Deondre Francois, who was unable to provide enough spark to Orlando’s sleepy offense.

In the Week 1 loss, Lynch threw for 136 yards with a touchdown and a pick on 15 of 21 passing. In Week 2, he was just 9 of 19 for 79 yards and a score in three series of work. He was sacked a total of six times in those two games.

The XFL struggles are the latest in a series of on-field setbacks for Lynch, who went 1-3 during his brief stint as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. After parting with Denver after the 2017 season, Lynch spent an entire year as a free agent before failing to make Seattle and Pittsburgh’s regular season rosters the following two summers.

Lynch spent the 2021 season as a third-string quarterback in the Canadian Football League before getting injured during his lone season with the USFL’s Michigan Panthers.

Lynch’s pro career has obviously failed to live up to what he accomplished at Memphis, where his success (he threw 59 touchdowns against 23 interceptions in three seasons) led to him being the NFL’s 26th overall pick.

20 Mar

Hines Ward’s Brahmas make biggest jump, D.C. and St. Louis set for showdown

Despite being a two-time Super Bowl champion, a former Super Bowl MVP and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ career receiving leader, it’s safe to say that Hines Ward’s first win as a head coach is up there in his list of career achievements.

Ward earned his first victory as a head coach after his San Antonio Brahmas whitewashed the Orlando Guardians in the XFL’s second week of action. It came a week after Ward’s team suffered a shocking, last minute loss to the St. Louis BattleHawks, who remain undefeated after pulling off a similar comeback in Week 2 in Seattle.

Both teams solidified spots in the top half of our XFL Power Rankings. Neither, however, was able to supplant the teams who continue to command the top two spots on our list. Here’s a look at the Power Rankings ahead of the XFL’s third week.

  1. D.C. Defenders (2-0)
    Last week: No. 1
    For a second straight week, the Defenders won despite a slow start. D.C. trailed Las Vegas 6-0 at halftime before outscoring the Vipers 18-0 in the second half.

A dominant running game and Gregg Williams’ equally dominant defense has been the Defenders’ recipe for success. Led by Abram Smith, the Defenders gashed the Vipers to the tune of 229 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. But like their first game, the Defenders again did not get much in the passing game. Look for D’Eriq King, who scored a touchdown against the Vipers, to get more work under center if Jordan Ta’amu continues to struggle.

We’ll find out more about D.C. this weekend when they take on one of the XFL’s other two unbeaten teams in the St. Louis BattleHawks.

  1. Houston Roughnecks (2-0)
    Last week: No. 2
    No team has been more impressive through two weeks than Houston, which backed up its 21-point win over Orland in Week 1 by defeating a solid Arlington Renegades team.

After a back-and-forth first half, Houston outscored Arlington 12-0 in the second half. Along with getting impeccable play from his defense, Roughnecks coach Wade Phillips received efficient play from quarterback Brandon Silvers, who threw two touchdowns while not turning the ball over. Silvers has taken advantage of arguably the XFL’s best group of pass catches, led by Jontre Kirklin, Ben Putman, Cedric Byrd and Deontay Burnett.

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  1. St. Louis BattleHawks (2-0)
    Last week: No. 3
    St. Louis keeps it spot at No. 3 after pulling off another impressive comeback. For a second straight week, the BattleHawks overcame a 12-point deficit on the road to come away with a win. In both games, St. Louis received strong play by quarterback A.J. McCarron, who has quickly become one the league’s most recognizable players.

Though his numbers don’t jump off a page, McCarron has been clutch in big moments. He has yet to throw an interception while seldom putting his offense in bad spots. Like Silvers, McCarron has a talented receiving crops that includes Hakeem Butler, Austin Proehl and Marcell Ateman. The BattleHawks’ offense also features Mataeo Durant, who spent four months with the Steelers last summer following an impressive college career at Duke.

As good as they’ve been so far, the BattleHawks’ defense would benefit by putting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They didn’t have a sack last week after having two in their season-opener. We’ll see if they can step up this Sunday against the No. 1 Defenders.

  1. San Antonio Brahmas (1-1)
    Last week: No. 6
    Ward’s team had the perfect bounce-back opponent last week in the form of Orlando, which justified its ongoing status as the league’s last-ranked team (more on that later). After a tight first quarter, the Brahmas pulled away by scoring three touchdowns in the second and third quarters. They shut out Orlando during that span before Ranthony Texada’s fourth-quarter pick set up San Antonio’s final score.

The Brahmas’ defense balled out, but their best player may have been quarterback Jack Coan, who on Sunday became the XFL’s first player this season to throw three touchdown passes. Coan also took care of the ball while completing nearly 67% of his passes. The Brahmas’ running game could be better, though, after they averaged 3.4 and 2.5 yards-per-carry during their first two games. Big plays have also largely been missing from San Antonio’s offense through two games.

  1. Arlington Renegades (1-1)
    Last week: No. 4
    The No. 2-ranked team in our Power Rankings prior to Week 1, Arlington continues to move in the wrong direction after failing to hang with Houston this past weekend. Arlington’s defense is good, but it’s clear that it needs more help from its offense in order to succeed.

The Renegades scored their first offensive touchdown of the season on Sunday, but Bob Stoops’ offense continues have issues. They gained just 163 yards against Houston that included a meager 43 yards on 19 carries. Along with not getting much help from his running game, quarterback Drew Plitt was often hung out to dry by his offensive linemen as he was sacked five times.

  1. Seattle Sea Dragons (0-2)
    Last week: No. 5
    Seattle has been the hard luck team of the XFL so far. It lost a hard-fought game to the Defenders in Week 1 before being on the wrong side of McCarron’s most recent comeback last week.

The Sea Dragons have received solid quarterback play from Ben DiNucci, who threw two touchdowns against the BattleHawks. More importantly, DiNucci took care of the ball after committing three costly turnovers in Week 1. Seattle’s offense has found a player in Morgan Ellison, who had four catches against St. Louis while also averaging five yards per carry.

With teams focusing on Josh Gordon (who was targeted just twice last week), DiNucci needs to develop more trust with the rest of his receiving corps in order for Seattle to have more success offensively.

  1. Las Vegas Vipers (0-2)
    Last week: No. 7
    The only thing worse than the Vipers’ offense in Week 2 was the playing conditions on Vegas’ Cashman Field, which was very slick in the rain. Those conditions certainly didn’t help the Vipers’ offense, which had less than 200 yards of total offense. The Vipers, who received nothing from former Steelers wideout Martavis Bryant, are in desperate need of a playmaker.

Las Vegas made an interesting decision last week in replacing Luis Perez with former Packers quarterback Brett Hundley, who went 11 of 18 for 98 yards while failing to direct a scoring drive.

  1. Orlando Guardians (0-2)
    Last week: 8
    Along with losing games, Guardians coach Terrell Buckley appears to be in jeopardy of losing his team. Buckley basically threw his entire team under the bus following the 30-12 loss to San Antonio. Buckley said that he saw players who “are not competing” during Sunday’s game.

As stated here following their Week 1 loss to Houston, the Guardians’ season won’t get turned around until they get better play from quarterbacks Paxton Lynch and Deondre Francois. Until that happens, Orlando needs to lean more on what has been a solid rushing attack, led by Jah-Maine Martin.