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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NHL, Carabao Cup Final, College Basketball

Las Vegas Expert Picks

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.

NHL Pick

LAS VEGAS — Skating onto the NHL ice here in Vegas, and gotta keep riding the money train. We rolled with the hometown Golden Knights on Wednesday night and Vegas fed the Edmonton Oilers a 3-0 bagel. Thanks to a phenomenal effort by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. For those of you who don’t live here or have a second home in Vegas, you probably don’t know that Flower has a dog named – you ready, you sitting – Bark-Andre Fleury.

Obviously, Bark has nothing to do with handicapping, but just thought all you dog people would appreciate me adding a little color to the column. And when the color is money, it makes everyone happy. Vegas has won seven in a row overall (6-0 at home on the Strip), and not sure if the Knights will get to 11, but a crazy eighth straight win is all we need to cash a ticket.

Carabao Cup Pick

Jumping across the pond and gonna take a look at the EFL Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium. If you’re wondering about Carabao, it’s an energy drink from Thailand. Think Red Bull with a nasty medicinal aftertaste. And just to close out this thread, the carabao is a domestic swamp-type water buffalo, if you were wondering.

Back to the pitch. City is an overwhelming favorite, as they should be since they have scorched the Villans in two Premier League games this season, 6-1 and 3-0. And if you wanna go into the way-back machine, the Citizens have scored 17 and allowed just one the last four times in this series. Yeah, SEVENTEEN to ONE!!! So, since the price is WAY TOO high on the moneyline to win, -725 here in Vegas, we’ll take City to win by 2.5 goals at -145.

College Basketball Picks

Just a few days until the madness starts, and we’re gonna rock a few college hoop games. Start in the ACC and grab NC State over Pittsburgh. The Wolfpack are coming off a loss to archrival North Carolina, and the last time they came off a loss, to Boston College, the Pack bounced back with a STUNNING 88-66 win against Duke, at HOME! The Pitt Panthers limp into Raleigh with an 0-5 negative perfecto in their baggage, and even uglier, an 0-6 run on the ACC road.

Next up is the Texas Longhorns at Texas Tech. If you can get close to a touchdown, 6 or 7 points, tickle the underdog Longhorns over the Red Raiders. The Horns just completed the hat trick, beating West Virginia 67-57, which gave ’em three straight wins and covers.

Close it out with my hometown Runnin’ Rebels over San Jose State. UNLV is on the road at San Jose, but that should not be a problem. The Rebels are finally starting to vibe to first-year head coach T.J. Otzelberger, winning and covering four in a row, including a SHOCKING road win at San Diego State. The Spartans have dropped eight straight and are gonna have a tough time staying close to Vegas.

Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...ben@americasline.com.