When the March Madness picks are set each season, it's never surprising to see the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the shortlist of potential NCAA Tournament champions.
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Premier League Week 1 Best Picks
English Premier League Odds Week 1
Arsenal entertain Leicester city at the Emirates Stadium in the opening clash of the 2017-18 Premier League season with the game getting underway at 19:45 BST on August 11. The Gunners will be hoping there is no repeat of last season’s opening game, which they lost 4-3 to Liverpool in a game that highlighted Arsenal’s defensive frailties.
Arsene Wenger looks set to employ a three-man defense with Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka playing as holding midfielders in front of them. Although solid players, Elneny and Xhaka can be exposed by pace, something Leicester City have throughout their squad.
Leicester City flirted with relegation while defending their Premier League title but showed some glimpses of what they are capable of. Jamie Vardy will be hoping for a much better season in front of goal, while Riyhad Mahrez should be playing out of his skin in an attempt to put himself in the shop window for a transfer away from the club.
Arsenal should have too much for Leicester but the -210 odds on an Arsenal win at Bovada don’t yield too much value. The -110 on new signing Alexandre Lacazette scoring on his debut and Arsenal going on to win looks good, as does the Arsenal to win and both teams to score at +175.
Manchester City Start Away to Brighton
We have to wait until Saturday evening to see the new look Manchester City side take to the pitch although it should be worth the wait to see the Premier League favorites in action. City travel to newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion in a game that has the potential to have a scoreline more akin to NFL than soccer.
Brighton’s signings during the summer have not be inspirational so the squad is essentially Championship quality and that is bad news for fans of the Seagulls. Chris Hughton organizes his teams in a manner that they are difficult to break down and he does try to play attractive soccer, but it remains to be seen if this Brighton team have what it takes to battle it out with some of European soccer’s elite.
City know that anything other than a title win will spell the end of Pep Guardiola’s reign at the club and judging by preseason, City look destined to lift the Premier League trophy come the end of May. The blue half of Manchester have scored 21 goals in their previous eight league away games and should easily add to this impressive total before the referee blows the final whistle.
Last season, failing to put away chances against the likes of struggling Middlesbrough and Stoke ultimately cost City the league title, but Guaridola has addressed this issue by allowing his team to attack with more pace and guile than last season, and that is saying something. Throw into the mix the fact City have two new full backs who love to get forward and Brighton could be in for a long 90-minutes in their first-ever Premier League game.
City are -325 favorites to win this match with Bovada, but like Arsenal, these odds are not going to make you rich unless you are prepared to risk a lot of your bankroll. Instead, take a look at the Manchester City-Manchester City Half Time/Full Time market at -115 or even Manchester City to win both halves at an attractive +200.
Lukaku Relishing His Full Debut
On Sunday, we get to see Manchester United take to the pitch for the first time as they host West Ham United at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho has spent £115 million on Romelu Lukaku from Everton and Nemanja Matic from Chelsea and this duo could be the missing pieces of the jigsaw as Mourinho targets winning the Premier League during his second season in charge of United.
United have looked impressive in preseason and although they lost to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, West Ham do not pose the same threat as the Spaniards. This game ended in a 1-1 draw last season in a game that United dominated possession in but failed to make the most of their 15 shots at goal. A few days after the draw, United brushed aside West Ham in the League Cup, running out 4-1 winners with ease.
West Ham had a poor season in 2016-17 and will be hoping for a much more fruitful campaign this time around. Slaven Bilic has acquired the services of Marko Arnautovic from Stoke for £24 million and former Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez for £16 million in an attempt to make his side more potent in front of goal, but there are still worries about the Hammers’ defense, which leaked 64 goals in 38 matches.
United are short priced -330 favorites to get off to a winning start on Week 1 and I can’t see anything other than a home victory. The -120 on Lukaku to score and United to win looks good value as does backing Lukaku to score first at +275. Lukaku has scored in seven of his previous 10 games against West Ham so will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing the London side on his full league debut.
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