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Brandon Johnson, Brandon Dowdy Indicted in USD Game-Fixing Scandal

Former University of San Diego basketball players Brandon Johnson (pictured at left) and Brandon Dowdy (pictured at right), along with former assistant coach Thaddeus Brown, were indicted Friday on charges of fixing college basketball games. The indictment was unsealed Monday and it revealed that agents had been investigating a marijuana drug ring for over a year in a project known as Operation “Hook Shot.” Investigators learned the dealers were also running sports books and allegedly bribing college players to fix games.

This was about as serious of a deal as you can get. On Monday, agents executed four search warrants at various residences and one business, a convenience store, all in San Diego, and we’re talking about the FBI SWAT team storming into houses to take people into custody.

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Sportsbook Taking Bets on Bill Simmons’ First Tweet After Red Sox Win

ESPN’s Sports Guy Bill Simmons is one of the most popular sports writers on the internet and considered to be one of the most prominent Red Sox fans in the country. The accomplished author wrote a book entitled Now I can Finally Die in Peace after the Red Sox came back from down 0-3 against the Yankees to win the World Series in 2004. Well after this year’s World Series favorites started off the year 0-4 and lost to the Indians Tuesday night, Simmons tweeted that he wasn’t going to tweet again until the Red Sox won a game. Now, Sportsbook.com is taking bets on the subject of his first tweet after the Sox get back in the win column.

Now that the sportsbook has made a proposition out of his twitter, there’s only one way to proceed. Get some friends to place money on the umpires and have old Billy boy throw in a Dan Iassogna reference after the victory. Seriously, if they’re making a joke out of him, why not make a joke out of them? This easily has to be the strangest Simmons story since he wrote about that haunted hotel in Oklahoma City.

Thanks to Darren Rovell for the tip

Someone Bet $10 on VCU to Win it All, Stands to Make $50,000

The run VCU has been able to make to the Final Four in Houston has become — as expected — a complete sideshow.  The university recently shelled out $2,000 to let Dick Vitale know he was wrong and students and fans alike have been partying in the streets since the Sweet 16.  Only two out of 5.9 million ESPN brackets picked the final four correctly, and VCU is a huge reason why.  Whether you believe the Rams deserve to be playing for a championship or not, their run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament has been one of the most remarkable in history.

According to the USA Today, via Deadspin, one brave soul strolled into the Las Vegas Hilton earlier this season and decided to risk $10 of his or her hard-earned money on a whim.  That whim was that the VCU Rams would win the National Championship in 2011.  The odds? 5,000 to 1.  Therefore if VCU cuts down the nets next week in Houston, that person stands to win $50,000.

Other sportsbooks in Vegas said they took “significant” futures action on VCU at 175-1 and Butler at 150-1 before the tournament began.  There are still two games remaining before any serious cash would need to be shelled out, but book managers are admittedly nervous about the potential of having to pay some huge winners.

Granted, there were probably a ton of lost bets with people betting on the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds to win specific games and the National Championship, but I’m sure the Vegas sportsbooks would much rather pay those who bet on UConn and Kentucky to win it all than they would those who went out on a limb for VCU and Butler.

Vegas Sports Books Pocket Slimmest Super Bowl Winnings Since 1998

When it comes to the biggest sporting event of the calendar year, people love to gamble.  Sports fans and schmoes from all over the globe empty their pockets in an attempt to make money on the Super Bowl and make it more exciting to watch.  Gambling websites and sports books come up with plenty of ridiculous prop bets and a lot of others that we thought were worth a look.  On Sunday, the house took home a lot less than they are accustomed to.

LBS contributor Sam called our attention the Las Vegas casinos’ profit margin from Sunday’s game between the Packers and Steelers, and it looks like the bettors took them to the cleaners.  Granted, I’d love for $724,176 to be an off year for me, but that’s exactly what the Vegas sports books made on Super Bowl 45 out of over $87 million in wagers.

The winnings were the lowest since 1998, with “winnings” being the key term since the casinos actually lost over $2.5 million when the Giants ruined the Patriots perfect season in 2008.  The low profit margin proves that there are times when the general public’s feelings about a line and game total can be correct.  Most people took Green Bay at around -2.5 and the over total of 45, which turned out to be good decisions.

Personally, I thought about placing some money on the game to make things interesting.  Like most others, I liked the Packers a lot giving up less than a field goal.  Like the illogical gambler that I tend to be, I used disgustingly flawed reasoning to talk myself out of placing money on Green Bay.  When I realized so many of my friends had taken the Packers, I thought to myself, “we can’t all possibly win this much money on the game, right?”  Well, we did.  Correction: they did.

Super Bowl Betting: Five Best Prop Bets for Super Bowl 45

It’s been two weeks of analyzing, arguing, and pontificating about Super Bowl XLV. Finally, the big game is upon us, and you’re probably contributing at least a few bucks to the billions of dollars wagered on the Super Bowl. We’ve already been over some of the crazy prop bets available, so now it’s time for advice on the ones that will win you the money.

Going based on the 24 Super Bowl prop bet sheets posted at ESPN Radio 1100′s Super Bowl blog, here are the bets I think that have the chance of earning you some serious cash and sportsbook bonuses.

1) James Starks’ first run is set at 3.5 yards — I think that one goes under at -145. Pittsburgh’s vaunted run defense has earned its reputation for a reason; Starks won’t gain that kind of ground easily. Win. 1 yard

2) Likewise, under 50.5 yards at -110 is a great bet against James Starks. Again, not only do I not see the Packers running on the Steelers well, I don’t even see them trying to. Loss. 52 yards

3) The amount of total sacks in the game is listed at five at -110. I think that one goes over. Both defenses are swarming, and the Packers in particular have a strong pass rush. I think that either pushes or goes over. Loss. 4 sacks

4) I still think betting that the first score of the game will not be a touchdown is a good bet. I’ll take +155 that the first score is a field goal. Loss. Packers TD.

5) Longest touchdown of the game will be under 44.5 yards at -110. I know both offenses are capable of big plays, I just think it’s tough to say that will happen. Win. 37 yards longest.

And if you want to know my expert pick for the game, here it is.

Scoop Jardine Makes Syracuse Point Shaving Rumors Worse by Responding

Syracuse was 18-0 and a top-five team in college basketball, but the Orangemen have lost four in a row since starting the year strongly. They were wiped out at home last week 90-68 by Seton Hall, leaving many fans with questions. Apparently those questions have resulted in rumors, such as one posted on a gambling site saying Cuse players Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, and James Southerland have been shaving points.

Jardine hasn’t played his best in the four losses and was particularly awful against Villanova, but that in no way implies he was shaving points. Waiters and Southerland are both reserves and neither played in the loss to Marquette, but both have seen plenty of minutes in each of the team’s conference games. The DNPs were Waiters’ first of the year and fourth for Southerland, and the DNP seemed to be punishment for Waiters. Clearly Waiters’ status with coach Jim Boeheim is in question, but that is most likely due to his attitude.

Two speculative reports came out Tuesday suggesting the players were shaving points and that led to fans questioning the players on twitter. Rather than ignoring the bombardment, Scoop Jardine made what KC radio host Nick Wright described as an awful move. Here’s what Scoop wrote on twitter, as Wright alerted me:

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Super Bowl Prop Bets Are Always Fun

We’re getting closer to Super Bowl XLV, yet the media frenzy still hasn’t begun. We’ve talked about the hair war between Clay Matthews and Troy Polamalu but how their effectiveness in the game may be limited, and whether or not the world is ready to see Ben Roethlisberger become a three-time Super Bowl champion.

One area we haven’t covered in too much detail yet is the betting line. One look at the NFL standings can make you wonder how a 10-6 team is favored over a 12-4 team, but that is the case.

The simple explanation is that the Packers have been fantastic lately, winning at Philly, blitzing the Falcons on the road, and beating the Bears in Chicago. They’ve never trailed in a game by more than seven points this season, and they haven’t loss by more than four. They’re just a really good team and the public has recognized it. One area that is much less certain is the Super Bowl prop bets.

Jimmy Traina brought my attention to some of the fun ones available on Thursday afternoon’s Hot Clicks. Here’s a sample of my favorites:

- Will a punt hit the scoreboard during the game? — Yes: 10/1
- Will a Steelers player do the Aaron Rodgers Championship Belt Celebration during the game?

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