Most everyone has a Christmas wish they’d like to see come true this week. The end to the pandemic, of course. The Lions to hire this guy (but not that guy) for head coach. A sports betting app or two. OK, those are mostly my wishes. But it’s safe to say other Michigan sports bettors likely wish for the launch of legal online gambling, too.
We had hoped to see online sports betting arrive before the end of 2020. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help that cause, but the Michigan Gaming Control Board still made a push to see that wish come true.
The latest projections from Mary Kay Bean, a spokesperson for the MGCB, are looking like mid-January for launch. Just in the last few weeks, the board provisionally licensed 15 operators for sports betting and internet gaming. And vendors and suppliers of all kinds have been given interim approvals, too.
I am naturally eager for January to get here on so many levels. The unfortunate part is that those 15 apps won’t be available in time for a packed week of basketball, football, and dare we say it, college bowl betting from the comforts of home.
There was some holiday cheer last week when Detroit casinos were given the green light to reopen after a month-long closure due to the pandemic. Many tribal casinos with sportsbooks remained open, too.
So there are ways to get your bets in this week, even if it’s not online. Here’s what’s on tap for sports and betting and sports betting.
NBA tipoff offers up betting treats
One of the highlights each year around the holidays is the prime NBA schedule each Christmas Day.
The old motto has always been, “the NBA season really starts on Christmas.” This year, that is pretty close to true.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic adjusting the finish of the 2019-20 NBA season, the 2020-21 campaign is getting a late start.
The season officially begins on Tuesday with just two games, but Christmas Day features a great slate of five contests.
This year’s holiday magic includes:
- New Orleans at Miami, Noon (ESPN)
- Golden State at Milwaukee, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
- Brooklyn at Boston, 5 p.m. (ABC)
- Dallas at L.A. Lakers, 8 p.m. (ABC/ESPN)
- L.A. Clippers at Denver, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
All the prime stars will be in action, including the returning Kevin Durant, who missed all of last season with an Achilles heel injury.
Friday may be a good day for a parlay, as two of the games have just a 1-point spread as of Monday (Brooklyn -1, L.A. Clippers -1). Last year’s Christmas Day NBA slate saw four underdogs win outright.
NFL to light up the nights with playoff races
Leave it to the NFL to keep the football betting in prime view during the holidays.
The league moved their usual Thursday Night Football game to Friday this week, with the New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings at 4:30 p.m. (Fox/NFL Network).
The Saints (10-4) are a game up in the NFC South division race and tied for second in the NFC playoff standings. Minnesota (6-8) has to win out for any chance at a Wild Card playoff spot.
DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Saints as a 7.5-point home favorite as of Monday.
The Detroit Lions open up a 3-game NFL schedule on Saturday as well when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 1 p.m. (NFL Network).
Detroit (5-9) is out of the playoff race after a 46-25 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Bucs (9-5) are tied with the Los Angeles Rams for the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs. Oddsmakers are listing the Bucs as a 7.5-point road favorite.
MSU, U-M hit the hardwood on Christmas Day
If the NBA or NFL don’t pique your holiday interest, perhaps college basketball is for you.
Locally, both Michigan State and Michigan will be in action on Christmas Day.
The Spartans have a key Big Ten Conference game when they host Wisconsin at noon (Fox).
MSU is coming off its first loss of the season on Sunday night, a 79-65 defeat at the hands of Northwestern in its conference opener.
The Wolverines will be in action at 6 p.m. (Big Ten Network) when it hits the road to face Nebraska. Michigan is off to a 6-0 start following a 62-58 win over Penn State in its conference opener on Dec. 13.
College bowl games are still an option
Let’s face it. The 2020 college football season has been a bit of a bungled mess, but you can still enjoy a little Christmas cheer with some bowl action.
On Christmas Day, Buffalo will face Marshall at 2:30 p.m. (ESPN) in the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. DraftKings listed Buffalo as a 3.5-point favorite.
That will be followed up on Saturday with four bowl games (all times EST).
- FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl: Coastal Carolina (-6.5) vs. Liberty, noon (ESPN)
- Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: UAB (-3.5) vs. South Carolina, noon (ABC)
- SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: Louisiana (-13.5) vs. UTSA, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
- LendingTree Bowl: Georgia State (-4.5) vs. Western Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)