Talk about being thrown right into the fire.With UW junior goalie Brian Elliott injuring his left leg at practice Wednesday, freshman Shane Connelly — who has yet to see action in a regular season game — has quickly become the center of attention as the No. 1-ranked Badgers host No. 19 Denver this weekend.”This would be a first,” Connelly said after practice Thursday as he was surrounded by a group of reporters. “It’s something new. I’m pretty excited.”Elliott had been nothing short of spectacular between the pipes through UW’s first 22 contests, compiling an 18-2-2 record, a 1.40 goals against average and a .946 save percentage. He was the top goalie and arguably the best player in the country this season.Now he will be forced to view the next 3-4 weeks in street clothes.The only action outside of practice Connelly has seen since joining the Badgers’ squad at the beginning of this season came against the United States Under-18 team a month ago.The Cheltenham, Penn. native made 19 saves but gave up five goals as Wisconsin picked up a 6-5 come-from-behind victory.It was not quite the debut that Connelly had hoped for, but he said getting to see some action did help his progress.”I watched the tape, went back to work with [goalie coach Bill Howard] and just got in the flow a little more,” Connelly said. “I’ve watched a lot of gamedays, but now I’ve got one under my belt. More confidence is the biggest thing.”Included in the five goals allowed were a few that slipped through his legs, which undoubtedly he would love to have back.But that performance is in the rearview mirror at this point, and Connelly will be thrust into the limelight under the grandest of circumstances.Not only will he be making his official debut for the top-ranked team in the country looking to knock off the two-time defending national champion Pioneers, he will be doing so in front of a sold-out Kohl Center.”I never thought it would be my first WCHA game, but it’s arrived,” Connelly said. “I’m more excited than nervous.”Connelly has been preparing all year and each individual weekend just in case he would be needed.”Each weekend you kind of get your mindset just in case, get ready,” Connelly said.That “just-in-case” moment happened to come Wednesday.”This is obviously one of the biggest days of my life coming up … I’m just excited and ready to go,” Connelly said.”I think I’m ready.”Knocking off the PioneersThere is no doubt that both teams will have bulls-eyes on their backs at the Kohl Center this weekend.Denver will be trying to defend its national title while the now-battered Badgers trying to hold onto their No. 1 ranking and maintain their lead in the WCHA, and this is the only time they will see each other in the regular season.”What it adds up to is another great weekend,” Eaves said. “That becomes a natural motivator.”Denver struggled a bit last weekend, splitting with St. Cloud State, but remains tied for second in the WCHA with Minnesota, eight points behind Wisconsin.Even though they will be without Elliott, the Badgers are taking this series as if it were any other.”Nothing’s going to change this weekend,” senior assistant captain Tom Gilbert said. “We’re going to come out hard, score some goals and get four points this weekend.”In league games, Denver ranks fourth on offense with 3.31 goals per game and also has the third-best defense, allowing 2.62 goals per game.They have two of the top three scorers in the league in sophomore Paul Stastny and junior Matt Carle, but senior Gabe Gauthier may be the biggest threat.”Gauthier is their biggest talent,” senior captain Adam Burish said. “We’ve got to be real aware when he’s on the ice.”Between the pipes, the Pioneers have split time between the talented duo of sophomore Peter Mannino (2.35 GAA, .917 save percentage) and junior Glenn Fisher (2.77, .901).The Badgers will probably have to knock in a few extra goals — which wasn’t a problem when they scored 12 in two games at Colorado College last week — if they hope to be successful.UW, along with boasting the toughest defense in the league — they are allowing just 1.44 goals per game — can also now lay claim to the WCHA’s best offense, as the Badgers effort last weekend propelled them to 3.94 goals per league game.Of course, without Elliott, it’s a whole new ballgame.
There’s just one double-digit spread (Ravens vs. Browns) featured on the Week 16 NFL slate, and there are a lot of exciting spots for bettors to attack this week. Six different spreads are between one and three points and seven more are between six and eight points. Playoff implications are at stake across the league, and the second-to-last week of the regular season is sure to be action-packed! Let’s check out some edges to capitalize on, be it on the moneyline, against the spread, or on the over/under total. BetQL can help you identify edges on every slate! Our subscribers can view BetQL’s NFL best bets and make the most informed, data-driven wagers possible. WEEK 16 FANTASY RANKINGS:Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | KickerAll data presented is as of Wednesday morning. You can track all NFL line movement on BetQL’s Line Movement Dashboard. Figures below calculated by wagering one unit on each touted bet with -110 spread odds.NFL Week 16 Betting Picks: Spread pick of the weekBills (+6.5) at Patriots The Bills have gone 6-0-1 ATS on the road this season, and, while the Patriots have gone 5-1 at home, they’ve gone just 3-3 ATS. Earlier this year, New England took down the Bills 16-10 in Buffalo. Since then, both teams have been trending in different directions. Although the Patriots defense has relatively maintained its elite status (with the exception of two ugly losses against mobile quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson), New England’s offense has not resembled the dominant units that have graced Foxborough throughout Tom Brady’s tenure.Whether Brady’s regression is real or not, it’s clear that New England’s defense has carried the Pats to an 11-3 record. Meanwhile, the Bills have proved their doubters wrong all season and have played their best football away from Buffalo. Since this game has a slate-low 37.5 point total, it’s easy to assume that points will be hard to come by for both teams. Expect this one to come down to the wire, especially since the Bills are in the hunt for their first AFC East title since 1995. A Buffalo win in this game wouldn’t guarantee that, but it’s a necessary step toward dethroning the Patriots, who have won the division every year of the last decade.NFL Week 16 Betting Picks: Moneyline pick of the weekSaints (-145) at Titans The Saints have gone 5-1 on the road this season and are coming off of a dominant 34-7 victory over the Colts on Monday Night Football. Meanwhile, the Titans have gone 4-3 at home and are coming off of a 24-21 loss to the Texans. There are some trends working in New Orleans’ favor in this matchup. In their past 57 games against good offensive teams (who average 24-plus points per game), the Saints have gone 43-14. In their past 31 games against excellent passing teams (that average 7.5 or more yards per attempt), New Orleans has gone 22-9. Further, in their last 102 games against poor passing defenses (that allow a completion percentage of 61% or worse), the Saints have gone 75-27. Per BetQL’s Public Betting Dashboard as of Wednesday afternoon, 70 percent of the total bets and 93 percent of the total money has been wagered on the Saints’ moneyline. MORE WEEK 16 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts | Start ’em, sit ’em NFL Week 16 Betting Picks: Over/under pick of the weekTexans at Buccaneers OVER 49.5Death, taxes and Buccaneers games hitting the OVER — those are the only certainties in life. While that’s a bit hyperbolic, 11 of the past 12 Bucs games have gone OVER the total, and five of their six home games have gone OVER. Jameis Winston has thrown for 914 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions over the past two games, which has led to 73 and 55 point totals. Right now, he’s clearly being given the freedom to throw the ball all over the field and leads the NFL in passing yards as a result. But, due to his uncanny ability to turn the ball over, offenses have capitalized from beneficial field positions all year long against Tampa Bay, who have allowed 276.8 passing yards per game (30th) as they tend to sell out against the run. That could play right into Deshaun Watson’s favor this week, as DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller should be able to run wild. Hammer the OVER!Via BetQL’s Sharp Picks Dashboard, 62 percent of public bets have supported the over, but pro bettors haven’t quite agreed. Find out what percentage of total money has been wagered on the over!