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Behind the lines

Sooners are heavy favorites

September 21, 2007|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Oklahoma has been running over opponents this season just as the Sooners used do with their wishbone offense in the 1970s under coach Barry Switzer.

But instead of pounding defenses on the ground, Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops' offense features a diverse attack that can run and pass. It has been effective enough to make the Sooners the nation's highest-scoring team, outscoring opponents, 184-26.

That's why Oklahoma is 3-0 against the spread this season heading into tonight's game at Tulsa. The Sooners, who are 7-0 in their last seven games against the spread when they've been favored by 10 1/2 points or more, opened the week as 20 1/2 -point favorites and have climbed to 23 1/2 as of Thursday, according to Sportsbook.com.

Tulsa (2-0) might be ready to end the Sooners' streak against the spread. The Golden Hurricane is 6-1 in its last seven games against the spread when it has been an underdog of 10 1/2 points or more.

Pro Basketball

With the start of NBA training camps less than a month away, odds for teams competing for this season's NBA championship are starting to settle down.

The San Antonio Spurs are favored to repeat as champions at +350, which would pay $350 on a $100 wager. The Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns are next at +450, followed by the Boston Celtics (the highest-rated Eastern Conference team) at +500, according to Sportsbook.com.

But there's a big drop from there with several teams closely bunched in Detroit, Miami, Cleveland, Houston and Chicago ranging in odds from +1,200 to +1,500.

Then come the Lakers and the Kobe Bryant factor. Even though the Lakers are coming off a disappointing first-round playoff exit and failed to make any major off-season moves, they are still given a better chance to win the title than a group of teams that would seem to be in better position to get it done this year.

Those teams include Denver and last season's playoff surprise Utah (+3,000), along with Golden State (+3,500) and New Jersey (+5,000). The Lakers are at +2,500. Go figure.

The reason behind the Lakers' generous standings with oddsmakers? Bryant, of course. And, in case you're wondering, the Clippers dropped to +10,000 after Elton Brand's Achilles' tendon injury.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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