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Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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Top 10 sports betting events of 2021

25 Jan 2021

By Dan Ippolito
Last year, the sports wagering world missed out on arguably the biggest and most awaited event of each year when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament – fondly referred to as March Madness – was called off due to COVID-19.

As of this writing, this year’s tournament is scheduled to take place from 18 March to 5 April. While that is always one of the top sporting events to bet on, we can’t overlook the other major matches and tournaments throughout the world. Here we take a look at 10 items that you should mark on your calendar to place some wagers on.

10. Wimbledon
The tennis world was missing a big part last year when Wimbledon was cancelled last year for the first time since 1945 due to COVID-19 issues.

However, this year it is scheduled to make the return from 28 June to 11 July. In even better news, the tournament could be filled with fans. The capacity is undetermined as is having fans at all, but the hope is to have some fans, according to the All England Club.

This year’s tournament has Novak Djokovic as the favorite to take the title at 6-to-4 odds on bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook.

9. The Stanley Cup
Two weeks ago, the National Hockey League began its 56-game regular season. It is a different look for the NHL, not only because of the shortened schedule, but because of the realigned divisions.
The NHL made changes to the divisions in order to prevent any travel across the border of the U.S. and Canada and to limit travel in general as much as possible.

The final possible date for the NHL Stanley Cup Game 7 is 15 July. The hope is for teams to have some capacity of fans later in the season but it is too early to determine.

As of now, the Stanley Cup favorite is the Vegas Golden Nights at 6.5-to-1 odds on Intertops Sportsbook. The Golden Knights sit atop the West Division with 10 points. Right behind them are the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche who are both sitting at 7-to-1 odds to raise The Cup this summer.

8. NFL Draft
With just one game remaining in this year’s NFL season, most teams are focused on 29 April, the first day of the NFL Draft taking place in Cleveland.

Young athletes will have their dreams come true, some fans will be disappointed in their team’s pick and as always, many will boo Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The first overall pick this year is again a nearly clear-cut decision. The Jacksonville Jaguars hold this year’s top pick and it seems pretty straightforward who will be wearing a Jaguars helmet under center next season.

Trevor Lawrence, former Clemson Tiger, is the HEAVY favorite to be drafted first at 1-to-80 odds on bet365. He has been predicted to be a top pick ever since he won the National Championship as a freshman. He made the College Playoff all three years at Clemson and after losing in the semifinals this year, he declared for the NFL draft.

Now, while the top pick is nearly in the bag, the question becomes will Justin Fields, QB out of Ohio State, be chosen second. Fields is 14-to-1 odds on bet365 to go number one but is the next best option for the New York Jets who hold the second pick in the draft.

Last year’s draft was originally scheduled to take place on the Las Vegas Strip, but obviously with COVID-19 putting a stop to that, it had to be held virtually. However, Las Vegas will host the 2022 NFL Draft.

7. Champions League Final
The soccer world anticipates The Champions League Final every year and this year is no different.
Last year’s winner, Bayern Munich, was the first club out of Germany to win the title since they did it back in the 2012-2013 tournament.

This tournament, they are the favorite to go back-to-back. Bayern is listed at 4-to-1 odds to win it all on Unibet Sports & Racebook, followed by England’s Manchester City at 4.5-to-1 odds. The round of 16 for Bayern will begin against Italy’s Lazio on 23 February.

If Bayern does find its way back into the final again, it will take place on 29 May in Turkey.

6. World Series
April Fools’ Day will be full of more than practical jokes in the U.S. That date also marks Opening Day of the 2021 Major League Baseball Season.

The Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to a World Series Victory last season after trading for outfielder/slugger Mookie Betts in the prior offseason.

This season, it seems there are two teams that are ahead of the others going into the season. Yes, there is time to change that as teams continue to make signings and moves before spring training.
The Dodgers (5.5-to-1 odds) and the New York Yankees (6.5-to-1 odds) are the top of the table to win the World Series in the upcoming season.

It is hard to not want to back the Dodgers as a bettor with Betts, Max Muncy, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger in the lineup. I could go on and list their entire lineup because it is filled with talent.

Then you look at the powerful Yankees with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ Lemahieu and Gleyber Torres. Both these teams are filled with incredible skill. It is a tough task to want to be on any other team to win it all besides these two, who are predicted to matchup against each other in October.

5. The Masters
As if the start of baseball wasn’t good enough for the beginning of April, we are going to be blessed to have The Masters take place during the second weekend of April.

We saw the 2020 Masters be moved into the fall and held without fans which was too weird to see Augusta nearly empty for the biggest golf tournament of the season.

Thankfully, we are back to holding the Masters in its usual time of year and it sounds like there will be some fans as well.

Dustin Johnson recorded his second major and first Masters win in the unusual 2020 tournament when he cruised to a five-stroke win posting a score of 268 over his four rounds.

Will Johnson go back-to-back in The Masters? Nobody has done that since Tiger Woods did in 2001 and 2002. Bet365 believes Johnson has a chance since they list him as the favorite at 6.5-to-1 odds to win this year.

4. The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby sounds ready to welcome back fans to Churchill Downs for the upcoming running on 1 May.

The goal is to allow between 40%-50% of reserved seating for this year’s most exciting two minutes.
It is obviously too early to have the horses and odds out for a race that will take place a few months from now, but it is definitely something that bettors will be keeping their eye on as they typically do each year. But if you want to take a look at some history and trends of the Kentucky Derby, take a look at our info on last year’s race.

It will also be good to see fans back in seats and making the event close to what it was before COVID-19.

3. NBA Finals
Betting the regular season in the NBA is always entertaining but has been much more difficult this year than in the past. Many teams have had COVID-19 issues forcing players to miss several games which has made it harder to get a grasp on which teams are legit contenders. One team who still seems pretty clear is the Los Angeles Lakers. At 2.5-to-1 odds on Intertops, the Lakers seemed to only get better in the offseason with their signings.

The Lakers brought in great talent to come off the bench to support their superstars like Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The odds have improved for the Lakers since we mentioned them in our preseason article.

It’s hard for me to imagine a team in the Western Conference can beat the Lakers in a seven-game series. The East is much more of a toss-up. You have the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets who have all made good cases to be contenders in the conference. However, with James Harden being traded to the Nets it seems they are the top dogs to take down in the East despite sitting in fifth place, but it is early in the year.

2. Super Bowl LV
Is he getting number seven? Yes, I am referring to the GOAT himself, Tom Brady. His Tampa Bay Bucs will go up against the Kansas City Chiefs led by Patrick Mahomes. It’s the first time a team will play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Taking place on 7 February in Tampa Bay, the Chiefs have opened up as 3.5-point favorites over the Bucs at Intertops.

Super Bowl night is a bettor’s dream with the amount of prop bets that become available. Wagers can be placed from the moment the coin is flipped all the way to which color Gatorade will be poured onto the winning coach. Personally, I stick to the old saying, “tails never fails.”

It is going to be a great matchup to witness with the firepower both of these offenses hold. It may come down to which defense can get that key stop, or one stop at all.

Will Brady continue his reign over the rest of the league or will he be passing the torch to Mahomes who looks to win his second consecutive Super Bowl?

1. March Madness
It is tough to put into words how everyone is ready and waiting for March Madness to be back. The NCAA is taking extra precaution this year in order to make sure we can get this tournament in and do it safely.

All 67 tournament games will be played in Indianapolis and the Final Four games are scheduled for 3 and 5 April.

Selection Sunday takes place on 14 March after all of the conference tournaments are concluded.
Now let’s get into some of the big names.

I have been a fan of Iowa’s style of play all season, despite some struggles. Sitting at 18-to-1 odds to win the National Championship, the Hawkeyes have one of the best offenses in the country led by potential Player of the Year Luka Garza who leads the nation in scoring at 26.9 points per game. While they are not my top choice to win it all, they are in my top three for the value.

There are two teams so far this season that have seen above and beyond the rest. Let me begin with the Baylor Bears. Even though they had to shutdown for awhile with COVID-19 problems, the Bears are No. 2 in the country with a 14-0 record and average margin of victory of 24 points. Baylor is 5-to-1 to win the championship at Unibet, trailing only one team, my favorite and Unibet’s favorite to win it all.

Usually I hate going with the unanimous favorite but after watching them all year, how can I not? The Gonzaga Bulldogs are the top-ranked team in the nation with a 15-0 record. Gonzaga and Baylor were scheduled to play each other early in the season but had the game cancelled due to COVID. The Bulldogs are just above the Bears at 4.5-to-1 odds. The team plays at an NBA pace it seems with weapons at every position. The team averages just shy of 95 points a game and can score at all three levels.

This March Madness will be different with the uncertainty of fans at this point which could lead to less upsets if there are no fans. But despite that, it will be great to have 67 games to bet on again and four screens needed to watch all live games.
 
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