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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 5:00 PM

More college football lines have been going up in recent days. The LV SuperBook has joined the Golden Nugget in posting “Game of the Year” lines for marquee matchups through the season. It’s important that you know what you’re seeing when you study these numbers.

Far too many “square” bettors jump to conclusions because their enthusiasm trumps logic. This is particularly true for avid fans of particular teams. They’re anxious for the start of the season, and grab onto anything they see as good news for their alma mater.

For example, a Clemson fan might see an early line of -2 for the Tigers’ game against Notre Dame this year. And, they might say something like “Vegas thinks Clemson is going to beat Notre Dame.”

Well…a line like -2 is a virtual toss-up. Clemson is slightly better than a coin flip to beat Notre Dame rather than “is going to.” Also, home field advantage means something! Clemson is playing at home…where market value for the Tigers is often worth three or four points in the equation. Because the line is LESS than that…the market is actually telling you that Notre Dame is seen as the superior team. The Irish would be favored on a neutral field…and would be favored by more than a field goal on their home turf vs. the Tigers. Does that Clemson fan realize that market is saying ND is the better of the two teams?

Here are a few other marquee games where the ROAD team is seen as superior even though they’re technically the betting underdog as I write this:

Oklahoma at Tennessee (-1)

USC at Notre Dame (-1.5)

Oregon at Stanford (-2)

Home field has a point value. As you build your Power Ratings, remember to account for that in the process. If you have Notre Dame rated better than USC, you’re out of alignment with the market. If you think Tennessee is better than Oklahoma…well, why would the Volunteers only be a one-point favorite in Knoxville if that were true?

Let’s do one with a road favorite. Alabama is -2.5 at Auburn. The SEC media poll that just came out actually had Auburn winning the conference this season…even though the Tigers are an early home underdog to Alabama! That means Alabama is seen as about 5.5 to 6 points better than Auburn on a neutral field. Who’s more likely to survive the SEC West gauntlet of those two? The market says Alabama (about 3-1 to win the SEC this season) rather than Auburn (more like 5-1 depending on the store). Note…for the National Championship, the offshore consensus is about 8-1 for Alabama, and 16-1 for Auburn.

A quick look at a couple of others in that price range…

*Alabama is -4 at Georgia, which means the Tide would be about -7 on a neutral field if those two teams were to win their Divisions and play for the SEC title.

*Michigan State is -4 at Michigan. That suggests a potential thriller. Just remember that Michigan State might be favored by as much as -10 if that game were being played in East Lansing.

I don’t want to suggest that the betting markets are perfect in their team evaluations. Oddsmakers make mistakes. Sharps have misreads that cost them money (even though they come out ahead over the long haul). Hey…Ohio State was an underdog to Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon in their final three games last year! The Buckeyes won by scores of 59-0, 42-35, and 42-20 to snare the championship trophy.

You do need to remember though, that over a sampling of hundreds or thousands of games, the market is MUCH better at team evaluations than media polls. This has been shown time and time again. As you prepare for the coming season, you’ll be much better served studying the early lines and first movements caused by sharp action than you’d be by emphasizing mainstream media reports. Try your best to get a sense of how the markets see the big picture…then use your own handicapping strategies to look for edges.

If you’re like me, you can’t wait for football season to get here. The summer is flying by as it is. And, now the NFL Preseason is just a few weeks away (look for weekly “sharps” reports when NFLX begins!). In the meantime, let’s keep building our bankrolls with pennant race baseball. You can purchase my BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm packages, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 any weekday during regular business hours.

I’m planning one more market discussion before the end of July. Then, things will get busy once sharps start attacking the NFL Preseason lines in August. Thanks to all of you who were with me last year through football. Tell your friends that the sharps football reports will begin soon!


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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