The 2012 regular season of Major League Baseball betting action begins this week with a matchup of division rivals in Tokyo, Japan, while the Final Four hits the court with college basketball betting excitement on Saturday night in New Orleans to highlight this week’s jam-packed sports-betting calendar. Also this week, teams continue their playoff push in both the NHL and the NBA, while the NASCAR circuit heads to historic Martinsville Speedway for its sixth race of the season (all times Eastern):
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1. MLB: Seattle vs. Oakland (Wednesday, 6:10 am)
The Seattle Mariners (100/1 odds to win the World Series) and Oakland Athletics (80/1 odds) are both longshots on the MLB futures to win the World Series, but they get a head start on the competition with a two-game series to open the 2012 MLB betting
season in Tokyo, Japan. Former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez (14-14, 3.47 ERA in 2011) is scheduled to start for the Mariners against Brandon McCarthy (9-9, 3.32 ERA) of the Athletics. Oakland is listed at +3000 on the MLB futures to win the AL West, while Seattle is at +4500 in a division that also includes Albert Pujols and the Angels (-125) as well as the two-time defending AL champion Rangers (EVEN).
2. NHL: Washington at Boston (Thursday, 7:00 pm)
With just two weeks of NHL betting action remaining in the regular season, the Capitals (35/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup) are locked in a tense struggle with the Buffalo Sabres just to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference while the Bruins (9/1 odds) are gearing up to defend their title as the reigning Stanley Cup champions. Washington defeated the Bruins in Boston 4-3 on March 10, getting goals from Alex Semin, Matt Hendricks, Jay Beagle, and Brooks Laich. Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, and Johnny Boychuk replied for the Bruins in that loss. Pittsburgh (9/2 odds) has moved ahead of Vancouver (6/1) as the new chalk to win the Stanley Cup on the updated NHL futures.
3. NBA: Oklahoma City at Los Angeles Lakers (Thursday, 10:30 pm)
The top two betting favorites on the NBA futures to win the Western Conference go head to head this week as Kevin Durant and the Thunder (1/1 odds to win the Western Conference) visit STAPLES Center to tangle with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (9/2 odds). Durant poured in 33 points back on February 23 when Oklahoma City covered easily as 7-point home chalk in a 100-85 victory over Los Angeles on the NBA betting odds. Durant is currently listed at 3/1 on the NBA futures to win the league's MVP Award this season, while Bryant is at 6/1.
4. NCAAB: Louisville vs. Kentucky (Saturday, 6:09 pm)
The Final Four is finally set for March Madness in college basketball betting action as No. 4 Louisville takes on No. 1 Kentucky at the Superdome in New Orleans. Later on Saturday night, a pair of No. 2 seeds will decide the other finalist for the NCAA Tournament as Ohio State battles Kansas. The Wildcats are the betting favorite to win the national championship at -150 on the college basketball futures, with the Buckeyes ranked second at +280 odds, and the Jayhawks listed third at +475. The Cardinals are a big underdog at +1100 odds to win the college basketball betting crown next Monday night.
5. NASCAR: Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway (Sunday, 12:30 pm)
Tony Stewart won the Auto Club 400 last week for his second victory of the season against the NASCAR betting odds, and now sits in fourth place in the driver standings after five races heading into this week’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 in Ridgeway, Virginia. Stewart, who won this race back in 2006, will be gunning to cross the finish line first ahead of defending champion Kevin Harvick – who sits second in the current driver standings behind leader Greg Biffle - and two-time winner Denny Hamlin. Jimmie Johnson also has a pair of titles under his belt at the Goody’s 500, while veteran Jeff Gordon has posted three victories in this race with the latest coming back in 2005.
NBA: Orlando at New York (Wednesday, 7:00 pm)
PGA: Shell Houston Open (Thursday to Sunday)
NBA: Dallas at Orlando (Friday, 8:00 pm)
NHL: Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (Sunday, 12:30 pm)
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