Written By Tyler Andrews on March 22, 2022
Texans football fans have a new team to watch: USFL's Houston Gamblers

The United States Football League kicks off its inaugural season on Apr. 16 in Birmingham, Alabama where all games for the entire season will be played.

The eight-team league comprises two divisions, the North and the South.

The North division features the:

  • Michigan Panthers
  • New Jersey Generals
  • Philadelphia Stars
  • Pittsburgh Maulers

The South division features the:

  • Birmingham Stallions
  • Houston Gamblers
  • New Orleans Breakers
  • Tampa Bay Bandits

Here, we take a look into the history of the original USFL and a run-down of the Texans in the draft. Also a brief preview of the Houston Gamblers, and the questions about the feasibility of another NFL alternative.

With legal sports betting at close proximity in Louisiana, it’s been a topic of contention in Texas. However, there are proponents making efforts to legalize Texas sports betting.

A brief history of the original USFL

The original USFL was the brainchild of David Dixon, a New Orleans businessman who helped create the New Orleans Saints.

The idea behind the USFL was to provide professional football during spring and summer when both college and the NFL had their offseason.

Most fans agreed that the original USFL provided a solid product, with coaches and players that had come from or were on their way to the NFL. Notable among the original USFL players were:

  • Jim Kelly
  • Steve Young
  • Reggie White
  • Herschel Walker
  • Donald Trump, owner of the New Jersey Generals

The challenges that ultimately led to the disbandment of the league were precipitated by two main components: the (lack of a) salary cap and the schedule.

What transpired fairly quickly after the inception of the league was a handful of more wealthy teams engaging in bidding wars over the top players. And even going so far as to pull talent from the NFL.

This instability grew, and it coupled with the USFL’s attempt in 1986 to move the season to the fall to compete directly with the NFL. What finally killed the USFL was an antitrust lawsuit heavily impacted by Trump. The lawsuit claimed the NFL had monopolized the football market.

Trump hoped to obtain a merger between the USFL and the NFL. This never occurred, and the USFL folded that year. However, it did win the antitrust suit — the NFL paid out $1 in damages and never thought about the original USFL again.

The current USFL will need to put the adversarial relationship with the NFL and the missteps of the original USFL behind it to succeed. Which will not be so easy to do.

Who are the USFL players from Texas?

The USFL draft features a unique format where players are drafted by position, starting with QB. There were several notable Texas college players who were taken in the draft:

  • Devante Davis CB (UT), Tampa Bay Bandits
  • Nick Rose K (UT), Tampa Bay Bandits
  • Brennan Eagles WR (UT), Philadelphia Stars
  • Chris Nelson DT (UT), Philadelphia Stars
  • Daylon Mack DT (Texas A&M), Tampa Bay Bandits
  • Trey Williams RB (Texas A&M), New Jersey Generals

The final draft class for each team can be found here.

The Houston Gamblers

The Gamblers, Texas’s lone team in the USFL, will be coached by Kevin Sumlin, previously the head coach at both the University of Houston and Texas A&M. Heading the staff of the Gamblers will mark his first foray into professional football as a head coach.

The Gamblers kick off their season against the Michigan Panthers on Apr. 17 at noon EST on NBC and Peacock.

How can I watch USFL games and Houston Gamblers?

The schedule begins on Apr. 16 and runs through mid-June.

The first game pits the New Jersey Generals against the Birmingham Stallions. And it features a television rarity in that it will be broadcast simultaneously on both FOX and NBC.

This is the first time a sporting event has aired on competing networks since Super Bowl I in 1967, which aired on both CBS and NBC.

Tickets for the inaugural game are available on Ticketmaster. They start at $10 for adults while kids 15 and under get in free.

Serious questions remain regarding USFL legitimacy

The most pressing question for the USFL is whether or not the season will even happen.

The current USFL, owned by the FoxSports group, has been handed a lawsuit by the Original (called “Real” in the lawsuit) USFL owners. The original owners alleging intellectual property and copyright infringement.

The claim presents branding and advertising for the current USFL that is based on the real USFL’s brand identity. Their claim states:

“Fox has no claim to this legacy and no right to capitalize on the goodwill of the league. Much less does Fox have a right to deceive the public into believing that it is the USFL—or that Fox’s League’s teams were the USFL teams.”

What the “real” USFL owners seek is for FOX to change the league’s name, team names, and any branding associated with the 1980s-era league.

Needless to say, with the USFL launching in less than a month, Fox has no intention of doing any of this. And what it will likely claim is that the previous USFL owners have known about their intentions for a long time.

Fox is not worried about damages the “real” league might sustain or else it would have come forth sooner.

Can Texans get behind the USFL and Houston Gamblers?

A second question is whether fans will, or can, get behind their teams with all the games taking place in Birmingham, AL.

Houston is over 600 miles from Birmingham, and it’s the second-closest team to the game sites. New Orleans at just under 400 miles is the closest.

With the current cost of gas, not many people are very excited about a 1,300-mile road trip to see a brand new sports team play.

Factor in all of the other costs associated with going to a game, and Fox is gambling on people dropping $500-$1,000 to watch their new team play one game from the cheapest seat in the stadium.

The outlook for the current USFL is cloudy.

And even if the court throws out the “real” USFL owners’ case, it seems unlikely that fans will be throwing their support behind “home” teams for which they have no shot at watching in person.

Perhaps the biggest question of all then is whether the product on the field will keep people tuning in over baseball, hockey, and the NBA. If so, local markets may make a bid for playing true home games in the 2023 season.

Photo by Marty Lederhandler / Shutterstock
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Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor of play-texas.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Lone Star State. He also contributes on similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Texas’s pathway to gaming legalization.

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Written By Frank Weber on March 16, 2022
XPEL 375 IndyCar Series Texas Motor Speedway

The NTT IndyCar Series will be back in action as the XPEL 375 revs up on Sunday. The race starts up at around 11:45 a.m. local time, but if you are lucky enough to go to the race you can enter the fan zone as early as 8 a.m. 

This will be the second race so far for the NTT IndyCar Series season. The last weekend in February saw the series kick off with an exciting race at the Firestone GP, where Scott McLaughlin just narrowly edged out Alex Palou for the win. 

If you’re interested in attending the race taking place at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, you’ve come to the right place.

You can’t bet on motorsports in TX, but it sure is fun to watch. So here’s everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming XPEL 375.

XPEL 375: Race weekend details and schedule

One of the best things about going to a race like this is that there’s always something to do. The campgrounds open on Friday, Mar. 18 at 9 a.m. And the festivities kick off just the next day with practice and qualifying runs. 

Here’s everything you can expect on Saturday, the day before the race:

  • 10:00 – 11:00 am – NTT IndyCar Series Practice 1
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm – NTT IndyCar Series Qualifying
  • 4:00 – 5:00 pm – Nett IndyCar Series Practice 2
  • 5:30 – 7:30 pm – Speedway Children’s Charities Laps
  • 5:45 – 6:45 pm – Driver Autograph Session
  • 7:00 pm – Progressive American Flat Track Texas Half-Mile (Dirt Track) 

If that’s not enough for you, there are tons of fun experiences to be had back at the campgrounds. That’s where hundreds of fans will be partying the days away until the main event: the XPEL 375.

Race day is a bit less packed than the days leading up to it. The gates open at 9 a.m., and the driver introductions take place at 11:15. Once everyone is settled in, the race begins at around 11:45 am.

Where is Texas Motor Speedway?

The Texas Motor Speedway is right off of Interstate 35 West, and about 20.8 miles north of the city center of Fort Worth. If you’re driving North from Fort Worth, it’ll be exit 69.

Once you get to the event, you’ll be able to park your car. There is plenty of parking but always plan on getting there a bit early to make sure you find a nice spot.

Most parking at Texas Motor Speedway is free, including:

  • All unpaved parking on the west side of the facility
  • The Paced Dirt Track parking lot across Lone Star Circle

There is VIP/Express parking as well, which ranges from $40-$75.

How can I get tickets to XPEL 375?

You can either get tickets online through sites like Ticketmaster or buy them straight from the Texas Motor Speedway website. They are currently offering a special promo, where you can buy two tickets for Saturday’s Qualifying AND Sunday’s race for just $48.

Kids 12 and under receive tickets for just $10 each, so it’ll be a great time to get out and enjoy a race with your family.

Don’t miss Jimmie Johnson’s return at XPEL 375

This race is particularly special for NASCAR and IndyCar fans alike because seven-time Texas Motor Speedway and NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson will be competing for the first time in the XPEL 375.

Johnson is a motorsports legend and getting a chance to see him race at an event like this would be a dream come true for motorsports fans across the globe.

Photo by Grindstone Media Group / Shutterstock
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Frank Weber is a US-based gambling writer with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He loves baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and the UFC, and even collects sports cards and memorabilia in his spare time. In his free time, you could find Frank either out at a concert with friends, or at home sweating out all his bets.

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Written By Chris Imperiale on December 31, 2021Last Updated on March 11, 2022
The great quarterbacks are the stars on today's Super Bowl field

In today’s NFL, the Super Bowl is all about the passing game. It wasn’t too long ago that the sport revolved around the running back and the ground attack. But no longer; yesterday’s running heroes are overshadowed in today’s game by the throwing arm kings.

Consequently, to win the Super Bowl, you practically need one of the best quarterbacks in the league. If he’s not on your roster, you must at least have someone playing at an exceptionally high level during the postseason.

Throughout the league’s history, there have been several notable passing performances in the NFL’s biggest game.

Of course, everyone knows about Tom Brady and his legacy. The greatest QB ever has seven Super Bowl titles and is in the running for another this season. Tampa Bay is among the top contenders when looking at the Super Bowl odds.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most impressive showings from signal callers that resulted in a Super Bowl.

Top Super Bowl Passing Performances

The quarterback is seemingly the most important position in football because they always have the ball. Teams are forced to rely on their quarterbacks to make plays down the field because you’re probably not going to have success strictly running it.

With the rule changes over the last few years, NFL quarterbacks have more freedom than ever. They are protected from taking massive hits, especially to the head. They also have wide receivers able to roam the field more freely, with defenders facing more difficult rules than in decades past.

While there are plenty of incredible passing clinics in Super Bowls from the past, there are likely to be lots more in the future.

Joe Montana – San Francisco 49ers

Until recently, Joe Montana has been regarded as the greatest quarterback of all time by many NFL experts and former players. Brady probably supplanted him over the last few years, but Montana is still a legend in his own right.

The San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback won a total of four Super Bowl rings and put up some of the best stats the game has ever witnessed.

In his last Super Bowl from the 1989 season, Montana had a day to remember against the Denver Broncos.

He was practically unstoppable, earning his third Super Bowl MVP. Montana connected on 22 of 29 passes for 297 yards, including five touchdowns.

These five scores set the record at the time for the most in a Super Bowl. The only person to ever throw more was Montana’s teammate on the Niners, Steve Young. He posted the new mark of six touchdown throws five years later.

Naturally, Montana’s big game resulted in a massive victory for his side. The 49ers won 55-10 and claimed their second title in as many years.

It helped him maintain the record for the highest career passer rating in the big game, as well. Montana’s rating of 127.8 is the best cumulative total, beating out the Raiders’ Jim Plunkett by five points.

Steve Young – San Francisco 49ers

This list must include Young, who won three total Super Bowl titles with San Francisco, but just the one as the starter. Luckily for him, Young’s stat line in the 1994 championship was one of the best you’ll ever see.

He completed 24 of 36 attempts for 325 yards and the improbable six touchdowns to surpass his old teammate.

The San Diego Chargers knew they were in trouble early when Young hit on two long passes for scores.

He and Jerry Rice got together for the first one, traveling 44 yards. Then while still in the opening quarter, Young threw a 51-yard touchdown to running back Ricky Watters.

Young collected two more scoring strikes before the half started and San Francisco went on to win by a score of 49-26. As expected, Young was named MVP.

His 49ers teams made their way back to the postseason several times after this game but fell short in multiple contests against the Green Bay Packers. Young was only a full participant in the Super Bowl once, but he certainly left his mark.

Troy Aikman – Dallas Cowboys

Although Emmitt Smith took control of the second matchup in the Super Bowl between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills, it was Troy Aikman who shined in the first.

The QB was precise, as usual, and led his Cowboys to a 52-17 win over the Bills.

Aikman completed 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns. He’s one of just six players to ever throw for four or more scores in a Super Bowl.

Dallas actually fell behind by seven early, however, it didn’t trail on the scoreboard for long. Tight end Jay Novacek hauled in its opening points before Aikman found receiver Michael Irvin for two more touchdowns in the second quarter.

The Bills closed the game to within 14 at the end of the third, but once Alvin Harper caught a 45-yarder from Aikman, it was basically over.

His teams won two more titles after this first one to finish with three overall for the quarterback. Despite those other contests only featuring one more touchdown toss from Aikman, he still ranks first all-time for career completion percentage in Super Bowls.

Aikman saw success on 70% of his attempts through three games, narrowly beating out Montana at 68%.

The Cowboys’ QB is also ninth still on the list for most passing yards in title games. His 689 yards are right behind fellow Cowboy Roger Staubach’s 734 through four tilts.

Tom Brady – New England Patriots

Brady is the most successful quarterback in the history of the league and he continues to set himself apart. His Tampa Bay Bucs won the Super Bowl last season and are in position to make another run at it this year. Although Brady is 44 years old, there’s no sign of him slowing down yet.

Since he’s been in so many of these games, it’s challenging to choose which was actually his best. The quarterback owns the top two games in Super Bowl history in terms of passing yards, even though he was on the losing end when he threw for 505 yards against Philadelphia.

He only accumulated 466 of them going up against the Falcons to conclude the 2016 season, but the Patriots needed every one of them.

His side couldn’t accomplish much and was down 28-3 at one point. As Brady has done for most of his career, he led New England back in one of the most exciting Super Bowls in recent history.

The Patriots scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to force the first overtime ever in a Super Bowl. When they won the toss, Falcons fans knew it was done as Brady went down the field for another touchdown.

James White’s two-yard rush secured the winning score and the ultimate comeback.

Brady was solid down the stretch and put together an impressive stat line. He completed 43 passes altogether, totaling 466 yards and two touchdowns.

The victory was Brady’s fifth ring and the successful completion of yet another pass: passing legendary Super Bowl quarterbacks Montana and Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw, tied at four rings each, en route to his record seven.

Photo by (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
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Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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Written By Chris Imperiale on January 10, 2022Last Updated on March 11, 2022
While quarterbacks garner the glory, wide receivers can be the critical key to a Super Bowl title

While the quarterback often garners the glory, some heroic catching by the league’s best wide receivers has made all the difference in a team taking home a Super Bowl title.

It’s generally tricky for a wideout to have an incredible showing without a good game from his quarterback. Many signal callers have earned the MVP over their teammate, but some tilts are long-remembered for stellar wide-receiver play.

Many of today’s championship teams typically don’t feature star-quality wide receivers. Of course, this was far from the truth a year ago, when Tampa Bay won it all with players like Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Rob Gronkowski.

Let’s look back at previous Super Bowls and some of the most outstanding individual games from wide receivers.

Best Wide Receiver Performances in the Super Bowl

Jerry Rice – San Francisco 49ers

This list must begin with Jerry Rice, who owns the current record for career receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns in the big game.

It obviously helps that the San Francisco 49ers lead man was involved in a total of four Super Bowls, but Rice also has the record for catches and scores in one game.

In Super Bowl XXIII from the 1988 season, the receiver took home the MVP after a massive game. Rice caught 11 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown en route to a four-point victory for the Niners. His score tied things up at 13 apiece early in the fourth quarter.

Rice was too much to handle for the Cincinnati Bengals defense. His 11 receptions rank him tied for third all-time; however, his 215 yards still stand as the record for the Super Bowl.

No other player has ever exceeded 200 yards, with Washington’s Ricky Sanders the closest at 193.

Although this may be Rice’s best Super Bowl, he did have a three-touchdown showing in two different games.

In the 1989 season with Joe Montana, Rice totaled 148 yards on seven catches, including the three scores. Then again, in 1995, Rice hauled in 10 balls for 149 yards and found the end zone three times with quarterback Steve Young.

While Rice is the only receiver in NFL history to record three scores in a single Super Bowl, several players, including Gronkowski last year, have two.

Rice is probably safe for some time, with almost 600 career receiving yards in the season’s final contest, but Gronk could contend for overall catches.

Tampa’s tight end is at 29 catches in five total Super Bowls, four behind Rice’s record of 33.

Isaac Bruce – St. Louis Rams

Significant statistical outputs are worth a lot more when they occur in tight affairs. In one of the closest Super Bowls, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce carried the load for his offense in their victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Since Marshall Faulk and the rushing attack wasn’t working like always, the Rams leaned on quarterback Kurt Warner.

He connected with Bruce six times for 162 yards and the game-winning touchdown with around two minutes left in the contest.

After the Titans scored three consecutive times and tied it at 16, Bruce made a great catch-and-run to reclaim the lead. Warner’s pass was slightly underthrown, but the receiver came back to make a play on it and cut inside.

He ran the remaining 40 yards basically untouched and won the title for the Rams with the 73-yard grab.

For those who remember this Super Bowl, the Titans’ efforts on the following drive fell just short. Wide receiver Kevin Dyson landed on the one-yard line as he stretched out his arm, reaching for the end zone.

Bruce missed out on earning the MVP because his quarterback, Warner, threw for more than 400 yards and two touchdowns. The wideout split most of the targets through the air, as teammate Torry Holt posted a notable stat line with seven catches for 109 yards and a score, as well.

The 162 yards place Bruce in third for the most receiving yards in the Super Bowl. His 73-yard snag also still ranks within the top 10.

Ricky Sanders – Washington

Washington’s Ricky Sanders is another receiver who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves due to a quarterback.

As mentioned, he is the closest player to getting to Rice’s level by eclipsing 200 yards in a Super Bowl. Sanders’ 193 in Super Bowl XXII helped his side take down the Denver Broncos with ease.

Despite allowing the first 10 points to Denver, Washington scored 35 in the second quarter to put things away early.

Sanders got Washington on the board with an 80-yard strike from quarterback Doug Williams.

He wasn’t done, either. Later that quarter, Sanders took another catch 50 yards for a touchdown.

Williams won the MVP, but Sanders left his mark. He had nine grabs for the 193 yards and two touchdowns.

Besides his QB’s big night, running back Timmy Smith generated over 200 yards on the ground in this Super Bowl, too.

Sanders may somewhat blend into this lopsided tilt, but his yardage is only second to the greatest receiver in the league. He’s also on the shortlist of guys who have multiple receiving touchdowns in the same Super Bowl.

Sanders made it back to the final game a few years later with Washington, but he only caught one pass in the win.

Now that the NFL playoffs are officially set, we’re just a few weeks away from seeing another potentially remarkable showing on the biggest stage. Super Bowl odds are available for betting in nearby states for gamblers located in Texas.

Photo by (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
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Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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Written By Chris Imperiale on December 20, 2021Last Updated on March 11, 2022
Dallas running back great Emmitt Smith demonstrated the importance of the running back in a memorable Super Bowl win

Although they say that football is a game of yards and inches, the rushing performances of the running backs have become somewhat forgotten in today’s Super Bowl landscape. With different rules in place than in decades prior, teams are leaning on the pass for much easier and faster scoring.

Wide receivers can’t really be touched, making things much easier for quarterbacks and passing attacks today.

That said, there once was a time when some running backs dominated the league. A couple even propelled their teams to a Super Bowl title.

Currently, the Dallas Cowboys “three-headed monster” defensive line is ranked second in NFC East, the division with the most Super Bowl wins.

Some franchises, like the Tennessee Titans, stray from most other teams’ strategy; running consistently throughout a game. It helps they feature one of the best backs around in Derrick Henry.

While most don’t rely on the run that often during the regular season, it becomes more of a factor in the playoffs. With colder weather and usually quality defenses on the field, offenses try to keep a balance through an effective rushing game.

This was especially true in the past when a great running back could carry a team to wins. Whether or not they impact Super Bowl odds, their value is still recognized. While the average NFL running back earns $4 million a year, at least seven current rushers earn over $12 million per season.

Let’s examine some of the best rushing performances on the ground in Super Bowl history.

Super Bowl running back showings to remember

Although it hasn’t occurred since Super Bowl XXXII (the 1998 season), running backs’ rushing performances have earned MVP recognition in the final game seven total times.

The Denver Broncos’ Terrell Davis is the last to do so, taking home the hardware after his side’s victory over the Packers.

There are also several other great showings that didn’t result in winning the Super Bowl MVP. In fact, it could be the best game by a running back on the NFL’s largest stage ever.

Timmy Smith – Washington

Washington’s Timmy Smith didn’t earn the MVP in Super Bowl XXII, but he did set a record that he still holds today.

Smith rushed for 204 yards on 22 carries to help his franchise grab another ring. Washington also won four years prior.

Smith found the end zone twice during this one, as well, including once on an incredible 58-yard dash. With the game still tight at 14-10, Smith’s scamper extended the lead and took the air out of the Denver Broncos.

Washington ended up scoring five total touchdowns in that second quarter to take a commanding 35-10 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Smith’s 204 rushing yardage remains the most in any Super Bowl. Unfortunately for him, most remember this one for his quarterback’s spectacular play.

Doug Williams won the MVP behind 340 yards and four passing scores. Not only did he lead his team to a blowout, but he did so with several impressive touchdowns.

Williams hit Ricky Sanders for an 80-yard strike to get Washington on the scoreboard, then again for 50 yards in the same quarter.

Still, Smith was a crucial part of the win and may not lose his spot in the record books for quite some time.

Marcus Allen – Los Angeles Raiders

The only other running back to approach the 200-yard mark was the Los Angeles Raiders’ Marcus Allen.

Unlike Smith who had a short career, many football fans remember Allen. The running back played for 16 years overall, the majority with the Raiders. Younger fans may recall him finishing his career in Kansas City in the 1990s.

Allen entered the Hall of Fame in 2003.

Even though his resume features lots of accomplishments, none are more important than his performance in his lone Super Bowl.

Allen paced the Raiders and completed the day with 20 carries for 191 yards and two scores.

Like Smith, Allen got in the end zone with a long run of his own. Allen’s 74-yard exclamation point pretty much ended the Raiders’ contest with Washington.

It grew the lead to 35-9 and ended any hope of a comeback.

Allen’s great night prevented Washington from taking back-to-back championships and got his name inscribed on the MVP trophy.

Despite this happening in just Allen’s second season in 1983, his Raiders and Chiefs teams never qualified for the Super Bowl again.

Terrell Davis – Denver Broncos

Davis’ most recent MVP showing is also one of the best ever. Part of the reason the Broncos’ star is so well-known for this outing is because it was actually tight.

Both of the previous running backs mentioned were amazing, but they generated these stat lines in lopsided games.

Denver needed every single yard that Davis churned out that night. His one-yard plunge for a touchdown in the fourth quarter sealed the deal for the Broncos with fewer than two minutes left.

They won by a final of 31-24.

Overall, Davis rushed for 157 yards on 30 carries, to go with three rushing touchdowns. He’s still the only player in the NFL to record three scores on the ground in the Super Bowl.

Davis willed his team to a win and received his second MVP of the season at the Super Bowl. He took home the regular-season honors, too, by accumulating more than 2,000 rushing yards on the campaign.

That magical year seemed to affect the back going forward in his career, as injuries piled up and he was out of the league following 2001.

Emmitt Smith – Dallas Cowboys

NFL fans in the Lone Star State should remember Emmitt Smith’s amazing game in Super Bowl XXVIII. His 132 yards that evening rank ninth all-time in the event.

Just like the Broncos and Davis’ situation, Dallas needed one of its leaders in Smith to step up in order to get a W.

Unlike the year before where the Cowboys pummeled Buffalo by 35 points, they actually fell behind in the early going. Buffalo held a seven-point advantage at halftime.

Dallas didn’t flinch, though, and found success handing the ball to No. 22.

Smith posted his 132 yards on 30 carries, while he scored two vital second-half touchdowns. His 15-yard rush in the third quarter reclaimed the lead for Dallas that it never gave up.

The Cowboys held on to win 30-13 to snag consecutive titles.

Smith was named the MVP and is one of the most successful running backs in Super Bowls. He sits in third for the most career rushing yards in this game, with 289 through three appearances.

Photo by Susan Ragan/Associated Press
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Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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Written By Darren Cooper on March 10, 2022
How To Find A Cinderella In Your March Madness Bracket

Sports fans know it’s about to get crazy, or mad. March Madness is upon us with the NCAA Tournament Selection Show this Sunday.

Followed by two-plus weeks of the best basketball ever, with star players, legendary coaches and incredible finishes. And don’t forget about Cinderella.

The thing that truly makes March Madness Mad is the appearance of the so-called Cinderella teams that pull upset after upset and capture the nation’s imagination with their luck, talent and success.

But are there trends to a Cinderella? Are there themes? Where do the Cinderellas come from and how can you spot them and put them in your bracket?

Since Texas sports betting isn’t legal, college basketball fans in the state can use this is a guide to fill out their winning bracket.

What is a March Madness Cinderella?

You know, Cinderella is a movie, a fairy tale, a girl who wants to be a Princess, meets her Prince Charming at the ball and all that. It’s a love story with a happy ending.

For our definition, a Cinderella is any team in the NCAA Tournament that gets at least two upsets by seed.

Using that definition and researching the last 10 Tournaments (remember there was no Tournament in 2020) there have been 24 basketball Official Cinderellas.

None have ever won the Tournament. So no happy ending.

How do we analyze the data?

Look at last year, Oral Roberts, a 15 seed, beat 2-seed Ohio State in the first round, then seventh-seeded Florida in the second round. Boom. They’re a Cinderella.

Sometimes though Cinderella can appear late in the Tournament.

Auburn was the fifth seed in 2019, the Tigers beat fourth-seeded Kansas in the second round, then number 1 seed North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen and two seed Kentucky in the Elite 8. Cinderella approved.

Auburn lost a heartbreaker to Virginia in the Final Four.

Sometimes teams may seem like Cinderellas, but really, just caught a break in the way the tournament worked out. Oregon was a great story in 2019 as the 12 seed, but it beat 13 UC Irvine in the second round.

The Ducks are not an official Cinderella.

Has anyone been an official Cinderella twice during March Madness?

In the last 10 Tournaments, one school, Syracuse has qualified as an official Cinderella twice.

The Orangemen won two games as the higher-seeded team in 2021 and 2016 were the 10 seed. It beat Dayton, a seven seed, in the first round, then top seed Virginia in the Elite Eight.

What’s the best seed for a Cinderella?

So now let’s get into the real facts when it comes down to working on your bracket. Of the 24 official Cinderella’s in the last 10 NCAA Tournaments, nine of them have been the 11 seed.

The underlying subtext to that is teams seeded anywhere from 6 to 11 are probably even. But then an 11 seed “upsets” the six seed in the first round and it starts feeling confident. Then, boom it takes down the third seed in the second round and Cinderella is born.

The nine schools that have been the 11th seeded official Cinderellas are:

  • UCLA (2021)
  • Syracuse (2021)
  • Loyola-Chicago (2018)
  • Xavier (2017)
  • Gonzaga (2016)
  • Dayton (2014)
  • NC State (2012)
  • Marquette (2011)
  • VCU (2011)

What’s the best conference for a Cinderella?

Everyone likes to think that there’s a great team somewhere in the Mid-Nowhere Conference (made up name) with a talented forward and a bunch of sharpshooters that can win the NCAA title.

Sorry, it just hasn’t happened yet. The best players are still recruited out of high school by the bigger schools and bigger conferences.

Even the Cinderella’s, too. Of our 24 Official Cinderella’s, 15 have come from one of the so-called Power Six Conferences, nine from smaller leagues.

The ACC and PAC-12 have each had four Cinderella teams. The Big East has had three, technically four, Butler was maybe the greatest Cinderella basketball story ever in 2011 reaching the final as an eighth seed.

Butler now plays in the Big East but was in the Horizon League back then. The only non-Power Six league to have more than one Cinderella team is the Atlantic 10 with LaSalle (2013), Dayton (2014) and VCU (2011).

So who or what do I look for in my March Madness bracket?

The data tells us to look at the 11 seed, preferably one from a larger conference. Think of a team like Arkansas in the SEC this year.

They finished fourth in the conference and 24-7 going into the SEC Tournament. They have Cinderella written all over them.

USC and UCLA fit that mold coming from the PAC-12. From the Big 10, it could be Iowa or Ohio State.

Here in Texas, we know Baylor is getting in. Texas Tech and Texas are potential official Cinderellas. Here are the Texas schools commanding their place in the NCAA Tourney.

Yeah, but I want the next Butler

Ok if you love finding that true small-school Cinderella, here are three to keep an eye on during conference tournament week.

No. 1 Toledo

The Rockets don’t have a single senior on the roster, but have four players who average in double figures and are 25-6 heading into the MAC Tournament.

No. 2 Iona

The Gaels are 25-6 going into the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament and are coached by Rick Pitino, who knows a few things about winning an NCAA title.

No. 3 San Diego State

The Aztecs went through the Summit League undefeated this season. They lost to Syracuse in the first round last year, so will have a chip on their shoulder in 2022.

Photo by zimmytws / Shutterstock.com
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Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He’s won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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Written By Fairway Jay on March 9, 2022
Texas golfers in focus at THE PLAYERS Championship

The 2022 PLAYERS Championship drew nearly every top-100 player in the current world golf rankings.

Missing, however, is Dallas resident and former SMU star Bryson DeChambeau. The No. 12-ranked golfer in the world has fallen from No. 5 at the start of the year, and he’s still not ready to return to competitive golf following hip and hand injuries.

But the state of Texas is still well represented at THE PLAYERS Championship. Leading the way is current No. 5-ranked Scottie Scheffler.

The Dallas resident and former Texas Longhorn won the Phoenix Open last month. He then captured the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational last week in tough scoring conditions.

Following his win at Bay Hill, Scheffler said:

“It feels great to be able to win here. To be completely honest with you, right now I’m exhausted. This course is a total beat-down trying to play.”

Scheffler’s rise has happened with a new caddie on his bag, Ted Scott. He’s also carrying renewed confidence following his Ryder Cup win as a member of Team USA last fall.

Scheffler continued:

“I put a lot of work in at home on my game and then in the gym. So my body feels great. I’ve been able to play some good golf, and I’ve been hitting it really nicely. I’ve just made little improvements over the years, and I’m starting to see them pay off a little bit, which is really awesome.”

Texans to watch at THE PLAYERS Championship

Scheffler is up to No. 5 in the world rankings, and he’s become one of the top golfers to target at this week’s PLAYERS Championship despite missing the cut in his first appearance last year playing TPC Sawgrass. His chances to win the 2022 Masters keep rising, and his odds range from 22/1 to 35/1.

Scheffler is one of the ten leading favorites to win a green jacket at Augusta National.

Other popular golfers at THE PLAYERS Championship with ties to Texas include:

  • Jordan Spieth – Dallas, University of Texas
  • Will Zalatoris – Plano

Spieth already owns a green jacket as the 2015 Masters winner. The 3-time major champion is holding steady at No. 14 in the world rankings.

But since THE PLAYERS Championship moved back to its March date in 2019, Spieth has finished T48 and missed the cut. He’s also missed the cut in three other appearances. His best finish at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course was a tie for fourth in his 2014 debut.

Zalatoris finished 21st on debut last year but failed to break 70 in four rounds on the par-72 Stadium Course, which plays to 7,256 yards this year. Zalatoris is ranked No. 30 in the world.

Other golfers with Texas ties to watch this week include:

  • Patrick Reed – Houston, born in San Antonio and No. 28 in the world
  • Abraham Ancer – Born McAllen, and No. 21 in the world
  • Cameron Champ – Houston, Texas A&M
  • Ryan Palmer – Colleyville, Texas A&M
  • Jimmy Walker – Boerne, Baylor
  • Jhonattan Vegas – Austin, University of Texas
  • Harry Higgs – Dallas, SMU
  • Kramer Hickok – Dallas, University of Texas

Patrick Reed finished T22 and T47 in the 2021 and 2019 events. Cameron Champ missed the cut in 2021 and withdrew in 2019.

Ryan Palmer finished T17 and missed the cut. Jimmy Walker missed the cut and finished T67.

Jhonny Vegas is a Venezuelan-turned-Texan who spent his formative years in Austin and played golf for the Texas Longhorns. He finished T61 last year, but T3 in the 2019 PLAYERS with a 14-under total after shooting 67-66 over the weekend.

Harry Higgs and Kramer Hickok are both winless on the PGA Tour. They both made their debut in THE PLAYERS Championship last year, and Higgs finished T29 while Hickok was T58.

Abraham Ancer has found the most success of the group at TPC Sawgrass with his accuracy and strong approach play since 2019. Ancer also ranks top 5 over that span at TPC Sawgrass in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Ball Striking and Off-the-Tee stats.

Course and tournament information

  • Course: TPC Sawgrass. Stadium Course by Pete Dye
  • Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
  • Date: Mar. 10-13
  • Par: 72 / Yardage 7,256
  • Fairways / Rough: Bermudagrass
  • Greens: Bermudagrass
  • TV / Online: Golf Channel, NBC (Sat and Sun), PGA Tour Live
  • Twitter & Hashtag: @THEPLAYERSChamp

The course played to a 72.04 average last year and was the 16th-toughest course on tour. There is little to no advantage to being a big bomber or smashing drives.

Rather, Pete Dye designs generally force strategic, positional tee shots, and penalize wayward approaches with complex bunkering at TPC Sawgrass.

The Stadium Course requires precision ball striking and rewards players with an elite approach and short game. But the ability to gain strokes on approach and around the green is more difficult than average, as small greens place more emphasis on shot-making.

Yet golfers have to be useful in getting it up and down, and there are nearly 90 bunkers with many tricky, smaller ones around the greens to trap poor approach shots or runoffs from the greens.

Water lurks on every hole but only comes into play for the pros on 11-12 holes. That includes the famous island green at No. 17.

Texas Golfers Looking To Shine At The 2022 PLAYERS Championship 2

The top golfers on all courses designed by Pete Dye with the top combined performances in Tee-to-Green and Ball Striking include:

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Paul Casey
  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Justin Rose
  • Jason Day
  • Abraham Ancer
  • Dustin Johnson
Photo by Mark Humphrey / AP News
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By Fairway Jay on February 19, 2022Last Updated on March 8, 2022
The PGA Tour's Phoenix Open title won by Texas native Scottie Scheffler

One of the Lone Star State‘s brightest stars on the PGA Tour earned his first victory last weekend at the Phoenix Open. Scottie Scheffler emerged with an emotional playoff win over Patrick Cantlay with a final score of 268 (-16) to break through with his maiden PGA Tour win.

Scheffler barely made it heading into the weekend but shot 62 on Saturday and 67 Sunday to complete an impressive comeback. Once three strokes down on the back nine, he forced the playoff with Cantlay, the No. 3 ranked player in the world and last year’s FedEx Cup champion.

Scheffler’s earned a hefty payday of $1,476,000 after topping a star-studded leaderboard that included Cantlay, Brooks Koepka (-15), Xander Schauffele (-15), Justin Thomas (-14), John Rahm (-12), Bubba Watson (-11), and Louis Oosthuizen (-11).

After making four birdies down the stretch to close his round on Sunday, Scheffler said:

“If you would have told me on 13 tee I was going to be in a playoff, I would have been pleased. I felt a little bit out of it at that point.”

Q: What does it feel like to finally breakthrough?

“I kept telling Teddy (caddie) on Thursday and Friday I was scoring really poorly but I was playing fantastic golf, my swing felt great, short game felt good, putting felt good, everything felt really good and I was only 3 under. To kind of put things together Saturday and get through all the mistakes I made today and still pull it out is pretty amazing.”

This week, Scheffler joins the other nine players ranked in the top-10 of the OWGR for the $12 million prestigious event at Riviera Country Club just outside Los Angeles.

The Genesis Invitational has attracted golf’s elite players. Golf’s greatest modern-day player, Tiger Woods, is the tournament host.

Update: Scheffler shot 5-under par 66 in Round 1 of the Genesis Invitational, and was tied for second position with fellow Dallas resident and Texas Longhorn alumni Jordan Spieth.

Scottie Scheffler’s rise to PGA Tour champion

Scottie Scheffler is just 25 years old, and he’s now among golf’s elite and ranked No. 9 in the world. The Dallas resident has made major strides in his PGA Tour career over the last three years, posting 18 top-10 finishes, including four in major championships.

Scheffler played high school golf at Highland Park in Dallas, and he won the 2013 US Junior Amateur. He continued his golfing passion playing for the University of Texas in Austin.

From 2014-2018, Scheffler helped the Longhorns win three Big 12 championships and was named Phil Mickelson Freshman of the Year in 2015.  He was also part of the US team that won the 2017 Walker Cup.

Scheffler was the Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year in 2019 and earned a fully exempt PGA Tour card for the 2020 season.

Ted Scott join forces with Scottie Scheffler

Scheffler made a caddie change late last year and joined forces with Ted Scott, who previously caddied for Bubba Watson. He met Scott in a bible study class in 2020, and finding a fellow Christian with a calming influence felt most comfortable for him.

The golfer and caddie did a trial run at the RSM Classic in November. Scheffler shot 63 in the first round.

“Literally, I had nothing to do with it,” Scott said. “The next day was like the hardest day caddying in my life. I don’t know his game and there were 25 miles per hour winds. It was wild. He handled it with such maturity. I learned a lot about him.”

Less than three months later and just their eighth start together, Scheffler is a PGA Tour winner for the first time.

Scheffler’s schedule and 2022 Masters Tournament

Following the Genesis Invitational, Scheffler will play in a few tournaments in the Florida Swing.

Sports betting is not yet legal in Texas, Florida, or California. Three of the biggest markets for the rapidly growing industry that now has more than 20 states offering legal sports betting and six others with legislation passed.

But millions of sports fans and golf bettors are checking the odds for the 2022 Masters starting April 7. Scheffler is now +2000, or 20-1, to win a green jacket at Augusta National. Scheffler has finished top-20 in his two Masters appearances the last two years.

Ahead of the Masters is the World Golf Championships (WGC) Match Play event at Austin Country Club. Last year, Scheffler advanced to the finals in the head-to-head match-play event before losing 2 and 1 to Billy Horschel.

Scottie Scheffler will be a popular pick and player to watch the rest of the 2022 PGA Tour season and beyond. The golf journey for one of the Lone Star’s finest players is on a path of fairway’s and green’s ahead.

You can bet on it.

Update: Scottie Scheffler won his second PGA Tour title in less than a month, capturing the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational in tougher scoring conditions and a final score of 279 (5 under par). Scheffler is up to No. 5 in the world golf rankings, and one of the leading favorites at THE PLAYERS Championship. Scheffler’s odds to win the 2022 Masters have dipped to as low as 22/1 at BetMGM.

Photo by Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By Fairway Jay on March 2, 2022Last Updated on March 3, 2022
Will Zalatoris aims to win PGA's Arnold Palmer Invitational

The 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational (API) starts Mar. 3 at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando.

The Florida Swing continues with a star-studded lineup shooting for a record $12 million purse and a top prize of more than $2.1 million.

Leading favorites to win Arnold Palmer Invitational

While Jon Rahm tops the odds to win at +750 on DraftKings Sportsbook, the world No. 1 is a risk having never played in Arnie’s event at Bay Hill. Rory McIlroy (+1,000) is the second choice on the odds board to win.

He’s followed closely by Dallas resident, and former Texas Longhorn Scottie Scheffler (+1,600). For reference, Scheffler won his first PGA Tour event last month at the WM Phoenix Open.

However, none of the top-10 ranked trio of stars is taking the most bets or money to win the API.

Rather, it’s Viktor Hovland (+1,800) and 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (+2,500) leading the way at DraftKings generating 8% and 6% of the handle (money) respectively, and just over 4% of the bets to win.

But following closely with the next most money and bets to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational is Plano resident Will Zalatoris. And if there were legalized sports betting in Texas, he would be a popular choice.

Rising PGA Tour star Will Zalatoris

But over at BetMGM, another leading sportsbook, Will Zalatoris (+2,500) is the most popular golfer this week at Arnie’s place. Zalatoris has the highest ticket count to win (8.1%), taking the most money to win with 10.8% of the handle. He’s followed by Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Sungjae Im and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Zalatoris is still shooting for his first PGA Tour victory. Already this season, four pro golfers have been firsttime winners on the PGA Tour. This is the first calendar year with 4 first-time winners before March 1st since 2002.

Zalatoris looks primed to make a run for his first win on Tour at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He’s No. 30 in the world golf rankings and has a pair of top6 finishes in three starts this year. The big hitter is also top-10 in hitting greens and Greens-in-Regulation gained.

Zalatoris has several skills pulling for him

Bay Hill is among the very toughest to score from 200+ yards out. This gives strong iron players and ball strikers have an advantage. Zalatoris ranks top10 in proximity from 200+ yards on Tour, and his elite ball-striking ranks top-5 on Tour over his last 50 rounds, along with Tee-to-Green and Approach play (Fantasy National golf site data).

Zalatoris has generated some of the most impressive and consistent teetogreen statistics. Using ShotLink data since the 2020 US Open and covering more than 50 rounds, Zalatoris ranks fourth on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach. This puts him trailing only Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, and Paul Casey.

He’s fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, narrowly behind reigning FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay in that statistic. He’s sixth in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in that span, a statistic that isolates performance off the tee and on approach shots.

Now this season alone, the rising star’s stats are even more impressive. Zalatoris leads the Tour in Strokes Gained: TeetoGreen (1.93) and Strokes Gained: Approach (1.22) per round. He’s currently ninth in greens in regulation (74.6%) and has more than doubled his amount of Strokes Gained: Around the Green per round so far this season compared to last.

Once his putting improves to even above average, Zalatoris will be a regular winner on Tour. Zalatoris finished tied for 10th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational on debut last year, despite losing strokes putting.

With so much talent and his continued improvement, it looks like a breakthrough win is coming to another Texas-based golfer, and the Kings Place at Bay Hill would fit like a tee.

Will Zalatoris rise up the ranks?

Zalatoris currently lives just north of Dallas in Plano. He spent much of his teenage years playing junior tournaments in Texas alongside 3-time PGA Tour major champion winner Jordan Spieth.

The 25-year-old Zalatoris has been been on a steady rise since winning the U.S. Junior Amateur title in 2014. At the time, he was representing Trinity Christian Academy in suburban Dallas. He then headed to North Carolina for college, playing golf at Wake Forest University. There he earned the highly sought-after ACC Player of the Year honors in 2017.

That same year, Zalatoris was part of the 2017 Walker Cup team that included PGA Tour winners Collin Morikawa and Cameron Champ.

Zalatoris then turned pro in 2018 but failed to get past the first stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Q School. He received some sponsors exemptions and played Monday qualifiers just to earn spots in Korn Ferry events. Thereafter, he earned a full-time status for the 2020 season, allowing his first professional tournament win in the TPC Colorado Championships.

Zalatoris moved to the top of the Korn Ferry points list, which qualified him for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2020. Zalatoris had a surprising finish of 6th place as a relative unknown. Additionally, he made a hole-in-one on the par 3 7th hole in Round 1. Will would finish the tournament tied with the then world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Zalatoris earned  Special Temporary Member status on the PGA Tour late in 2020. He also nearly pulled off the most improbable win in Masters history in 2021, finishing runner-up and 1-shot behind green jacket winner Hideki Matsuyama.

What do the oddsmakers say?

Zalatoris’ odds to win the Masters in 2021 were 215/1 at Circa Sports in Las Vegas. This year, Zalatoris’ current odds to win the 2022 Masters are 30/1 at Caesars Sportsbook, 33/1 at BetMGM, and 37/1 at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Following the Arnold Palmer Invitational is the massive $20 million THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Later this month and one week ahead of The Masters is the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, starting Mar. 31.

Photo by AP / John Raoux
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By Chris Imperiale on March 1, 2022
Sports betting odds for the Texas teams hoping to make it to March Madness Tournament

The college basketball season is quickly coming to a close. As March begins, schools only have a few games remaining on their schedules before the start of conference tournaments.

While Texas sports betting doesn’t exist, residents have some time before March Madness begins to get to a state to place some bets.

Those in East Texas can venture to Louisiana, which features several online sports betting apps.

The Lone Star State includes a couple of great basketball programs and teams that have a real chance at making this year’s Final Four.

This starts with the defending champion Baylor Bears, who are in a good position to do some damage again this season.

Then there’s also Texas Tech and Texas, two more from the Big 12 Conference that appear ready to receive a quality seed in this month’s NCAA Tournament.

March Madness futures odds

Baylor, Texas, and Tech make up three of the top 16 teams in college basketball according to the odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Baylor sits in the eighth spot overall with odds of +1500 to repeat as champions. The Red Raiders are 12th, at +3000, while the Longhorns are listed at +5000.

Unlike some others displayed at the online sportsbook, it seems that these three already secured their postseason positions.

In the most updated projections by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, both Baylor and Tech are posted on the No. 2 line. Texas is looking like a No. 5 seed at the moment.

Of course, seeding isn’t everything, but getting yourself into a place to succeed is helpful come tournament time.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three Texas colleges heading into the final stretch of the year.

No. 10 Baylor Bears

It’s once again clear that the team from Waco is one of the elite in the country. The Bears won their first 15 contests on the schedule and found themselves as the top ranked team in the nation.

Baylor hasn’t been bad since early January, but it has lost a total of five times. Two of those defeats came at the hands of in-state foe, Texas Tech.

The Bears hold a 23-5 record right now, with an 11-4 mark in the conference. They’re tied with Tech in the Big 12 standings, both a game and a half behind Kansas.

The Jayhawks appear in line to claim another regular-season conference title with just a few games left. They’re 12-2 in the conference and 23-4 altogether.

The good news for Baylor is that it controls the ability to make up some ground on Kansas. The two met on Saturday night at the Ferrell Center.

Even if the Bears struggle in this one or get bounced from the conference tourney early, they’ll be fine with their seed.

DraftKings shows a realistic chance for Baylor to make it back to the Final Four. It gives the Bears odds of +300, which is actually the exact same as Kansas.

They may not be as good as a year ago, but they’re certainly talented. The Bears’ roster consists of three players who each average at least 13 points per game.

Junior guard Adam Flagler leads this group with 13.7 points per contest on an efficient 45% shooting. He’s tops on the team in three pointers made with 63, while also hitting a solid amount of these attempts. Flagler is connecting on over 40% of his threes, as well.

Time will tell if Baylor can survive another crazy March and reach New Orleans for the Final Four.

No. 9 Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech is also a capable threat to make a deep tournament run. Despite losing in the second round by just two points to Arkansas last March, it qualified for at least the Elite Eight in two straight years prior to that.

In 2019, Tech lost to Virginia in the National Championship.

Both of those tournaments began with the Red Raiders as the No. 3 seed. It’s possible they improve upon that this year.

As mentioned, they’re currently a No. 2 in projections and have several games in front of them.

Texas Tech doesn’t have a very eventful finish, as its last three tilts all come against teams with losing records in the Big 12. It closes with TCU on Saturday, followed by Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

It looks more likely than not that the Red Raiders complete the regular season with a record of 25-6. They were 26-6 before their incredible postseason in 2019.

Even though they lost to Virginia in a tight battle that needed overtime, Tech defeated two No. 2 seeds and the West’s No. 1 in Gonzaga that year.

This team is hoping to have some of the same magic. At DraftKings, Tech is shown at +600 to earn a bid to the Final Four again.

Similar to the Bears, Tech includes multiple players who can score every night. Five total guys are essentially averaging at least 10 points, with senior forward Bryson Williams at 13.6.

If the Red Raiders can knock off KSU in their last home game, they’ll finish the season with a perfect 18-0 record in Lubbock.

No. 20 Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns are behind both of their Texas rivals, but it’s good company to be with in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball.

In spite of not competing for the Big 12 title, Texas is a solid team. It’s 19-8 overall and 8-6 in the conference with four games remaining.

The Longhorns face two winnable mathchups with TCU and WVU, then close with Baylor and KU.

Since the other two sides mentioned already solidified great records, these last few games mean more for Texas. They will determine how difficult a path the Longhorns will have to get through in the Big Dance.

Unfortunately, a No. 3 seed wasn’t good enough to advance last year, as UT went down to Abilene Christian in the first round.

The Longhorns were ranked as high as No. 14 in the beginning part of January. They feature some impressive victories, but a couple of bad losses, too.

As far as the odds go, Texas is surprisingly tied with Tech at +600 to earn a trip to the Final Four.

If it’s going to make it to the second weekend, it will need a great showing from senior forward Timmy Allen. He leads the Longhorns in both points per game and rebounding.

Allen’s scoring is inconsistent, though. In the month of February, he’s averaging just over six points per game during losses, compared to almost 17 points in winning efforts.

Hopefully for the sake of Texas backers, Allen’s got a few more monster performances left in the tank.

Photo by AP Photo/Ray Carlin
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Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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