Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Championship Week is ready to get rolling in college football. We start with a game Thursday Night that will determine if Central Florida can tie Memphis for a co-championship in the American Athletic Conference. Friday brings a pair of actual conference championship games when Bowling Green takes on Northern Illinois in the MAC, while revenge-minded #2 Oregon faces Arizona in the Pac 12.
Before that, it’s the Thursday Night NFL game featuring the suddenly vulnerable Dallas Cowboys and the embattled Chicago Bears.
Let’s see how professional wagerers (sharps) have been betting these games so far this week. As always, I’ll take the games in Nevada rotation order so you can makes notes in your schedule.
DALLAS AT CHICAGO (8:25 p.m. ET Thursday on NFL Network): This one has largely stayed on the Cowboys -3.5 through the week. We can tell that sharps don’t love the Bears, or they would have taken the hook right away to force the number down to three. The public lost money with the Cowboys as favorites over Philadelphia and the NY Giants their last times out…and will be hesitant to step in aggressively here. Actually, the whole world just watched BOTH of these teams play horribly on Thanksgiving Day, making it hard to invest in either one. The most likely scenario on game day is mostly square action on the TV favorite Dallas (the Bears typically get some square support even as dogs), counter-acted by “value” betting from sharps on the home underdog. The Over/Under has been bet up from 50.5 to 51.5 because both teams grade out poorly in several defensive metrics. The total might have been 53 or 54 if the game were in Dallas where great scoring conditions are guaranteed.
CENTRAL FLORIDA AT EAST CAROLINA (7:30 p.m. ET Thursday on ESPN): Central Florida is the team that “needs” to win in terms of claiming part of a championship, but money has been coming in on East Carolina. The home favorite opened at -5.5, and has been bet up to the key number of -7. Sharps liking East Carolina (a number which has declined significantly through the season because a 4-0 ATS September was followed by a 1-6 ATS run) got in early for value below the key number. Syndicates looking to take the road dog are waiting to see what they can get. They’ll be happy with +7 but will wait to see if the public bets a TV game higher. That’s slightly less likely because this isn’t a marquee matchup . Note that Memphis is in the AAC clubhouse with a 7-1 final mark in league play. Central Florida is 6-1, and can tie them with a win. East Carolina is out of the race at 5-2. (Cincinnati is also 6-1, and can force a co-championship with a home win over Houston Saturday)
BOWLING GREEN VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS IN THE MAC CHAMPIONSHIP
(7:00 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN2 from Detroit)
Moving to Friday, Northern Illinois opened at -6 and has been bet up only to –6.5. That’s telling because there wasn’t enough support to reach the key number…and it’s widely assumed that Bowling Green money would flood in at +7. Sportsbooks will have to decide if they want to stay one-sided off the opener and root for Bowling Green +6…or if they want to risk a big “coming back over the top” move on the dog after the key number is reached. This will be an actively bet game by normal MAC standards because it’s the championship and the first kickoff of the two Friday TV matchups. That sets up a reasonably likely scenario where public action pushes the line to seven in the hours leading up to kickoff, bringing sharp money on the dog into play. The opening total of 60 has been bet up to 62. That’s from quants who often bet postseason college football games played indoors to go Over. The public hasn’t bet the game yet…so we know the move has to be from Wise Guys.
OREGON VS. ARIZONA IN THE PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
(8:00 p.m. ET on from Santa Clara)
Oregon opened at -13.5, just below the key number of 14. The opener suggested that oddsmakers were expecting sharps to like the dog…and they didn’t want to give them the key number. Instead, money has come in fairly hard on Oregon. Sharps preferring the revenge-minded favorite bet immediately. A mix of sharp and square money kept betting -14…so we now have stores showing -14.5 as I publish this. I wouldn’t be shocked if 15 or more comes into play. The public wants to bet a game big before the weekend…and Oregon is the most logical favorite because they “need” the game in the national championship chase, because they have revenge from their only regular season loss, because they’re known to win big blowouts, and because their QB is getting all the hype in Heisman Trophy discussions. Sharps liking the dog will see what they can get…and may wait until 30 minutes before kickoff given public betting tendencies. The Over/Under has been bet up from 72 to 74. That’s mostly Wise Guy action. The move Over tells you that there aren’t concerns about the turf in Santa Clara (new home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers). That had been an issue at the site a few months ago.
My late week selections (including basketball) can be purchased here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about my personal service, call the VSM office Thursday during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you midday Friday for a special report covering Saturday’s Championship games (CUSA, SEC, ACC, Big 10, and Mountain West), plus that very important Kansas State/Baylor showdown in the Big 12. Then a few hours later, I’ll post the weekly NFL report for Sunday and Monday action.
Thanks for reading. See you again on Friday.
Be sure to follow:
Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri
Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters