Givin’ Futures: MLB, NBA, March Madness, NHL Futures 3.2.22

JD Notae #1 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs the offense during a game against the Pennsylvania Quakers at Bud Walton Arena on November 28, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Quakers 76-60.
Image Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep Sharp and NBC Sports Betting Analyst Brad Feinberg discusses expected win totals, division odds, championship favorites, and potential award winners with host and BetPrep Editor Michael Salfino of The Athletic and FiveThirtyEight. It’s the official futures podcast of BetPrep, a free sports betting research site that empowers bettors with the same tools both the sharps and the sportsbooks use.

Here are some highlights from the latest episode of the Givin’ Futures Podcast.

We were talking backstage about how in a 15-team draft in a tournament format I took Byron Buxton with the 50th pick. I mentioned how he bet on himself by negotiating an $8 million bonus every year of his seven-year deal if he wins the MVP (and lesser amounts for finishing lower in the voting). I said I thought his MVP odds are live given the caliber of player he is plus his defense and you agreed. You found him as high as 50/1 to win AL MVP. So you’re betting it?

Brad: When you told me Buxton was going to make $8 million if he won the MVP, I resolved that I have to win $10 million if he does. (Laughs.) Byron Buxton is not going to be happier than me if he wins!  I love these bets with big odds on guys with high variance. Sure, he’s always hurt. But when he wasn’t hurt last year, you could say he was the best player in the league. Other than Shohei Ohtani because of the pitching; but he’s probably the best non-pitcher when you factor in the value of his ridiculous center-field defense. Last year, he hit .306 average and .647 slugging in 61 games. If you were to tell me next year that Buxton was being debated for the first-overall pick in fantasy, I wouldn’t blink an eye. So we’re getting 50/1 only because he’s always injured and this is largely a bet he won’t get injured.

The analytics say hitter injuries do not predict future injuries. Remember when Paul Molitor was knocked for always being injured and then he went 10 years without an injury? 

Brad: Molitor is an excellent example. These are the bets I live for. These are the bets that get me excited. A 50/1 bet really wets my beak when I think it can be crazy live. And I understand the risk that he can get injured but again. But we’re not getting +450; we’re getting +5000. I couldn’t name five players I think are more talented than Buxton in the American League.

Atlanta Hawks under 42.5 wins, minus-145.

Brad: I love this bet. And I really don’t understand this one. The Hawks are 29-32 as we speak. They need to go 14-7 to win this bet. That’s a 54-win pace. What the hell am I missing? I say show your work. Here’s what they’re going to say: The Hawks have the fifth-easiest schedule. Okay, that’s fine. But how many teams in the East have a pace of winning 54 games? That would be zero teams. Zero. So the Hawks, a 29-32 team, are going to do it? Let them prove it.

Taylor Jenkins of the Grizzlies for Coach of Year, +800.

Brad: He’s coming back for a second guest appearance on the show. We have a pie and Monty Williams has basically taken up three quarters of it. He’s minus-300. I agree that J.B. Bickerstaff has a real shot at +375. And then Jenkins at 8/1. Look at this Memphis team. They are 43-20, on pace to win 56 games. That’s far more than expected. The Suns were maybe going to win 70 and I get that’s a big number but they’re not winning 70 now without Chris Paul. So why give the award to Williams? They were expected to be a top team and the conference is weak. If we have a Memphis team that wins 56 games, that was supposed to win about a 40 and a Cleveland team that will finish with around 48 wins that was supposed to be low 30s – which is more impressive? It’s close. But I’m going to take the guy getting 8/1. I think Williams is a bad bet. Jenkins should be closer to the +375 area.

Moving to college, Arkansas you like at 80/1 to win the NCAA Tournament. 

Brad: The Razorbacks played the No. 2 team in the nation. And they were favored by 2.5 points. They just beat a top five team in Kentucky. Beat Florida who’s been playing very well, on the road. They beat Tennessee. They beat Auburn, who was ranked No. 1. They lost to Alabama, who is good, by one point. They have JD Notae from junior college and he’s a dynamic scorer. If they do well in the SEC Tournament, why can’t they get a No. 2 or No. 3 seed? None of these teams are that good. So I’ll take 80/1 on a team that may be as good as anyone. I think Arkansas can beat anyone. I heard Coach Musselman saying how the effort wasn’t there with the team early in the year but now his team is playing as hard and as good as any team in college basketball. He said it’s probably his favorite team that he’s coached. So this is the guy who’s coached some good teams and the fact he made that comment tells me 80/1 is too high. It’s probably going to lose. But I would certainly bet $100 on this.

For more picks in hockey and basketball, including the post-Harden Sixers, listen to the full Givin Futures podcast here.