[Ed.'s Note: Every Thursday, Vegas expert Alan Boston dispenses betting advice and gives out a few college basketball picks to get you through the weekend.]
Several years ago, I was interviewed by Outside the Lines. They hung out at my house for the first two days of the NCAA tournament. That first day I got crushed; didn't win a game. One of the producers said, "You seem awfully calm." I replied, "I've been at this a long time. I generally win. I'll get them tomorrow." Today, the dynamic is different. I'm 50 years old. I didn't envision that I'd still be doing this, nor would I have believed that I'd be financially shaky. The game is harder, the lines are tighter. And there are people who bet early that tighten the line up even further. I am up against smart bettors with sophisticated programs. I still use my head and loose-leaf notebooks. At this point in my life, I'm doing something I do not want to be doing and I am having a brutally unlucky year. It's affecting my demeanor and attitude.
Let me be clear though. I have never had a problem letting losses go. To gamble professionally, you must learn how to lose before you can win. Last week, I wasn't complaining about bad beats, I was just talking about how at 50, I am working harder than ever, and am going through the unluckiest year of my gambling career. It just plain sucks and that was just honest emotion. Nothing more. I have been fortunate to be my own man for all these years, earning a living at something that many would love to do. This year, it's different. I do not want to do this, and have worked harder than ever with results that don't come close to the excellence of the work.
If anyone took last week's read as a moan, that was not the intent. It's not about the games. It's about my present state in life. My day goes like this: I wake up, occasionally eat, go to the gym for an hour, hit golf balls for about an hour a week, and the rest of the time, I work.
And I shall always be ready for tomorrow.
Middle Tennessee minus-2 at Denver.
My numbers show Middle a four-point favorite, the bookmakers have them minus-2. Two points off my number is a very good bet in this price range. Yes, Denver is a young, improving, well coached team with a strong home floor. But Middle is senior-dominated and at this time of year seniors have more energy than freshman. And this is a big game for Middle as far as its conference tournament seeding. Plus, lesser talented South Alabama lost at the buzzer in Denver and Arkansas State won in overtime. Neither is close to Middle in terms of talent. Road faves typically are not a great bet, but when you do find a focused road fave, you usually get value as smarts look at home dogs and the lines are often cheated down. I don't believe that's the case here. Superbly coached Middle should be ready for a top effort. Middle minus-2 is the play.
Northern Colorado pick over Weber St.
On Jan. 3rd, six-point underdog Northern Colorado blew a 16-point lead at Weber State, eventually losing in overtime. I believe they've been waiting for the rematch since, and you will get an absolute home run effort. At pick 'em you are getting a very fair price. If home courts are worth four, then a six-point underdog at Weber should be a two-point favorite at home (four for each home is an eight point difference, therefore a six-point dog becomes a two-point fave). Weber has been very good lately, but Northern has played well, too. I don't see what has transpired to make anyone think that Weber has gotten two points better. Value in line and huge motivation from remembering that first blown game make this an excellent bet. Northern even is the call.