Weekly Q&A with Doc's Sports Expert Handicapper Raphael Esparza
The annual men's college basketball's NCAA Tournament is one of the biggest betting events of the year. Now is the time to turn to Doc's Sports Service for some big unit plays that can boost your overall betting bankroll. One of the top members of this winning team is Raphael Esparza. He worked his way to the top during a long and successful run in the Las Vegas sportsbook industry. That career ended in 2013 when he retired as the Director of the Race and Sports Book for MGM Resorts' Aria.
Once known in betting circles as the Vegas Sports Informer, Esparza decided to shift all of his energy to running a successful sports investment business from his home base in Las Vegas as well as from the Big Easy in New Orleans. From college basketball selection packages to winning prop bet picks for Hollywood movie premiers, Raphael offers one of the widest arrays of betting options in the industry today. As part of an ongoing weekly conversation, Doc's has the unique chance to gain some deeper insight into the hottest trending topics on sports bettors' minds.
Doc's: The top four seeds for this year's NCAA Tournament come as no big surprise. However, looking at each of the four brackets, which top seed has the toughest road to the Final Four?
RE: Virginia in the South would be the obvious answer given its past issues advancing deep into the field. Villanova is also in that region along with Purdue. I could also see North Carolina getting bumped out in the Midwest. Kentucky could be in the mix, and do not go to sleep on Utah State as a possible matchup against the Tar Heels in the second round.
Doc's: Anyone filling out a tournament bracket is always looking for some inside information for possible straight-up upsets. Can you give us one or two teams that you have on upset alert heading into Thursday and Friday's games?
RE: First off, I would stay away from any SU upsets being touted by ESPN. You can add Murray State and UC Irvine to the list. I do like Oregon as a slight underdog against Wisconsin, and I would also look hard at St. Louis knocking off Virginia Tech.
Doc's: There are some rather hefty pointspreads on the board for Thursday and Friday's 32-game NCAA Tournament slate. Can you give one or two teams that you would bet on to cover against the spread?
RE: For Thursday's games, I might be tempted to take Montana +15.5 points against Michigan. When it comes to Friday, Iona getting 24.5 points against North Carolina could be an interesting play. As far as laying a big spread, if the line on Virginia against Garner Webb drops below 23 points, I might have to go with the Cavaliers. You know they will be chomping at the bit for a fast start after last year's opening-round meltdown.
Doc's: Speaking of upsets, both of famed horse trainer Bob Baffert's top Kentucky Derby prospects finished second in last Saturday's two-division Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Do you have an early thoughts for this Saturday's Louisiana Derby in New Orleans with trainer Mark Casse's War of Will as the likely morning line favorite?
RE: War of Will is a good horse, but this field is stacked with possibilities. Two entries that have caught early eye are Limonite and By My Standards. Betting each against War of Wills as the favorite in a head-to-head matchup could be the best way to go.
Doc's: This Saturday's UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville features a battle in the octagon between Stephen Thompson and Anthony Pettis in the welterweight division. Any thoughts on how to bet this fight with Thompson such an overwhelming -450 favorite?
RE: This could be a good fight for betting the "over/under" on rounds depending on how the odds shake out. I am more interested in Curtis Blaydes as a -275 favorite in his heavyweight bout against Justin Willis. That number could come down as we get closer to Saturday's card.
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