UFC 261 – Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal – Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET
What’s better than an epic bout that went the distance? A second one — only this time, the viewing experience will be shorter when Kamaru Usman once again defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal.
If Masvidal wants to win this fight, he’ll have to do so by knockout or submission: 11 of his 14 professional losses have come by decision, and the last time he won by decision was in July 2016, nine fights ago. Conversely, Usman has never lost by decision in 19 contests, so if this fight goes the distance, it’s likely going in his favor.
Masvidal will have to go big and try to end the fight early. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll be opening himself up — which means Usman gets it done. Expect this one to say within the distance and enjoy a little ROI.
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Pick: To Go the Distance – No (+130)
Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers – 7:00 p.m. ET
This total opening at six was a shock to our system, and sharps agreed — it now sits firmly in 6.5 territory. Simply put, this matchup has over written all… over it.
Their last two meetings – including Thursday’s 3-2 Flyers win – were both unders, but each was the best goalie matchup these teams can currently muster: Brian Elliott vs. Igor Shesterkin. That won’t be the case Friday when Alex Lyon and (probably) Alexandar Georgiev take the nets.
This matchup has averaged seven goals per game this season, including two nine-goal contests and one with 11 (!) scores (the Rangers also scored seven goals in one period on March 17). When you factor in that New York is the third-highest scoring home team and Philly averages more goals on the road, this game should fly over.
Pick: Over 6.5 (-104)
DFS Value Play: Pavel Buchnevich ($6400)
First Leg – 7:10 p.m. ET
Calling Friday’s Nationals-Mets game a pitching mismatch is the understatement of the week. Erick Fedde (5.56 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) vs. two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom (0.45 ERA, 0.70 WHIP). The Mets are finally hitting. This should be an easy win.
The Heat find themselves in a different type of mismatch, as the Hawks will be without superstar Trae Young (ankle), De’Andre Hunter (knee) and possibly Clint Capela (back). Miami is 11-5 straight up as an away favorite this season, so expect them to win their fourth straight here.
Pick: Mets and Heat Parlay -109
Memphis Grizzlies @ Portland Trail Blazers – 10:10 p.m. ET
This is the highest total on the Friday NBA slate, so it stands to reason that the superstars will get buckets. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum (predictably) have point totals in the low-to-mid 20s, but Ja Morant’s prop is currently under 20. The Memphis PG put up 22 and 36 in his last two games, and the Blazers boast the second-worst def rating in the league.
Pick: Ja Morant Over 19.5 Points (-113)
Chelsea @ West Ham – Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET
As we noted earlier this week, Chelsea is a bit distracted at the moment with lots of moving pieces between the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League. Meanwhile, West Ham are unbeaten in their last five home matches, picking up wins over the likes of Leicester City and Tottenham. This is essentially a battle for the fourth spot in the table, and WHU will be more motivated to continue their improbable run near the top.
Pick: West Ham +350