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Connor McDavid in the NHL Skills comp which is part of this week's 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. 

LAS VEGAS — Before we get to the winners, gotta scream at you if you’re a hockey fan. Not only is the NHL All-Star game here in Vegas, but for the first time EVER, the skills competition will be outdoors.

NHL All-Star Skills Competition Picks

Tell me more, Eck. Well, according to the league, the Discover NHL Fountain Face-Off will be staged at the Fountains of the Bellagio Hotel. Eight players will travel by boat to a “rink” in the middle of the fountain. They must successfully shoot pucks as quickly as possible into five targets placed in the water, while fighting through the spray of the nearby fountains. WOW! How COOL is that!

So, we’ve been living in Vegas since like 1987, and every time someone comes to visit, they wanna see the volcano in front of the Mirage, or the Bellagio Fountains. Now, they’re gonna shoot pucks at the lake with the fountains. That’s a touch of BRILLIANCE! Sadly, must tell you that the Mirage was sold, and they might be tearing down the volcano.

Of course, gotta give you a couple winners since we’re here in Vegas, and you can BOOK Connor McDavid as the winner of the fastest skater competition. EASY money! And for the accuracy shooting contest, Leon Draisaitl is the favorite at +350, but we’re gonna roll with Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron at +600.

NCAAB Picks

A few stops on the college hoop hardwood and we’re gonna start by dropping some love on Syracuse over Louisville. As if the ’Ville didn’t have enough problems, now they have to face the most WICKED zone in college basketball. As for the problems, the Cardinals fired head coach Chris Mack, and associate head coach Mike Pegues was named Louisville’s interim coach for the rest of the season. Pegues takes over a team that has only one win in the last eight games and one cover in the last 12 outings. Color me ORANGE, baabbbeee!

Also gonna swing out west and grab Oregon over Utah. The Utes finally won a game. They beat the sad-sack Oregon State team 84-59. Just so you know, the Beavers at 3-16 are the UGLIEST team in the Pac-12. Before that win, the Utes had dropped TEN IN A ROW! And we can report that the Ducks are starting to heat up, winning eight of their last nine. So quack-quack with me all the way to the bank.

Super Bowl Prop Pick

Super Sunday is still over a week away but I’ve found a prop wager that needs your IMMEDIATE attention. And it’s MONEY! MONEY MAC! Or, you might know him as Evan “Shooter” McPherson! Yeah, the Bengals kicker who HAS NOT MISSED a field goal or extra point in the playoffs.

Lemme take you for a stroll. Shooter was perfect against the Raiders, hitting on all four field-goal attempts, and was 2-for-2 on extra points. He was 4-for-4 on FGs and 1-for-1 on EXP against the Titans.

Then last week, sorry to sound like a broken record, he was, yup, 4/4 and 1/1 on EXP. So, 14 points against Vegas, 13 against Tennessee and 13 against Kaycee. His total of 40 points is just nine off Adam Vinatieri’s record back in 2006 when he put up 49 points in the playoffs. The Rams have a wicked D and should force the Bengals to try a handful of field goals. The listed OVER/UNDER total for McPherson is ONLY 7.5 points, and we’re gonna go HIGH and ROCK the OVER! 

And if you want some more winners over the weekend, PLZ hit me on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15/30-second picks at www.instagram.com/vegasvigorish!


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.