Hoops and Horses: College Rivalry Week, Betting to Win at Santa Anita, Fair Grounds


If you like betting both college basketball and horse racing, you've come to the right place!

Each week in Hoops and Horses you'll find analysis and key NCAA basketball bets from Jason Huck and horse racing picks from Jose Contreras.

Jason Huck is a recreational sports bettor and horseplayer. His strengths are in tracking and analyzing college basketball games, but he’s been known to fire away on football and other major sports. He’s also a horse handicapper whose peak betting season coincides with the opening of his home track of Oaklawn Park

Handicapper Jose Contreras is an analyst for horse racing network TVG and a regular contributor to America's Best Racing.

Hoops Plays of the Weekend

Rivalry week is here, and it’s a tough week to go off of. Throw everything out the window – hatred of these opponents will absolutely outweigh what the stats show... It is all about the bragging rights.

Saturday, Feb. 8

Michigan St. at Michigan, tipoff noon ET

Best Bet: Michigan State. Tom Izzo has too much talent on his team to lose to the Wolverines of Michigan. Sparty has a better coach, more talent, and is coming in off a rough two-game losing streak. If that is not enough for MSU to cover the number (they’ll probably be favored by a point, if not an outright pick 'em), their top-two offense and defense rankings in conference will get it done. 

Michigan, on the other hand has the 11th ranked defense in the Big 10. This game will be a shootout, but Izzo and Sparty will own the series this year. MSU beat Michigan by 18 on their home court back in January, and I expect no different Saturday – lay the hammer and fire hard. I will be betting $550 to win $500 regardless of what the spread is (and the Spartans may even get a point before tip-off).

Other games I like:

Saturday, Feb. 8

Gonzaga at St. Mary’s, tipoff 10 p.m. ET

Gonzaga is going to bury St. Mary's. This line will open up pretty short, I predict, but the proof is in the pudding as to why the Zags and Mark Few own the weak West Coast Conference. The height of the Zags towers over St. Mary's, especially in regards to rankings on KenPom. Gonzaga will pound the rock in the paint, and if the Gaels try to stop that, the Zags will use their top-10 NCAA ranking to shoot the trey. Lay the points here – the Zags will cover easy.

Saturday, Feb. 8

Arkansas at Missouri, tipoff 3:30 p.m. ET

Lastly, a homer pick: Woo Pig Sooiieeee! The Razorbacks are coming off a brutal home OT loss, but have a short trip to Columbia. Eric Musselman has his squad buying into the new type of pressure D and have quite possibly one of the top players in the SEC in Mason Jones. Mason is averaging over 30 points a game over the last few, and is willing his team to be competitive in every game. He us going to have a DAY and the putrid Missouri Tiger defense will not be able to keep up.  

Let's go 3-0 this weekend!

Last week’s Best Bet and season to date: 1-0, + $500


For this series, I will be to keep it simple and focus on the original wager: the WIN bet. I’ll be looking for one horse per day for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to place $10 win bets on each runner.

Friday, Feb. 7

Santa Anita Park, Race 3, 4:59 p.m. ET

#6 Smiling Shirlee (2-1): She made a good bid along the inside to be involved in a blanket finish for the minor placings in her first start on the turf. She’s already proven to be a good sprinter, and I think she’s going to be tough to beat with this drop in class.

Saturday, Feb. 8

Santa Anita Park, Race 2, 3:58 p.m. ET

#4 Kustom for Karl (3-1): She gave it a good try in her career debut when losing by less than three lengths despite not having the best of trips. She has every right to improve, and to me it looks like a two-horse race between her and #7 Rakassah. I think we’re going to see more speed from her today.

Sunday, Feb. 9

Fair Grounds, Race 9, 5:22 p.m. ET

#4 Alan’s Argument (7-2): He didn’t fire his best effort when trying the turf going a route for the first time last time out. I like that he’s switching back to the dirt and cutting back to a sprint. His dam was a dirt good sprinter. She won 4-of-8, including three state-bred stakes.

Total wagered: $30

Total returned: n/a

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