Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 11:00 AM
We have a fairly light late-week football schedule this time around. That’s probably because the college basketball season starts Friday night. Universities don’t like to schedule football and basketball against each other unless it just can’t be avoided. So, four football games to talk about for Thursday and Friday. That will leave me some room at the end to talk generally about reading the market in early season college hoops.
Games are presented in rotation order. There are no time changes in this quartet.
BUFFALO AT THE NY JETS (on NFL Network): Weather looks like it’s going to be a pretty big influence here. The forecast currently suggests a chance of rain with winds up around 10 mph. This stadium can cause problems for quarterbacks because the winds swirl on the field. That’s helped inspire a lot of sharp action on both the underdog and the Under. An opening line of NY Jets -3.5 is all the way down to -2.5. You regulars know that’s REALLY big because it crossed through the key number of three and stayed below it. If we don’t see any buyback on the Jets this afternoon, Buffalo +8.5 is going to be a very popular choice in two-team teasers because the six-point move crosses both the three and the seven.
The Over/Under opened at 44.5. It’s all the way down to 42 in some stores as I write this. Weather is likely to help a pair of quality defenses…who are lined up against a pair of quarterbacks who tend to be conservative anyway. Winds will inhibit downfield passing and might affect a field goal attempt or two. Monitor the line during the day to see if there’s a point where the Wise Guys start buying back on the Over because of a perceived over-correction.
VIRGINIA TECH AT GEORGIA TECH (on ESPN): Doesn’t look like weather is going to be an issue in either college game tonight. The opener here of Georgia Tech -3.5 has been largely been bet down to the field goal. Some stores are still hanging the hook. This probably means a tug-of-war through the day on Virginia Tech +3.5 and Georgia Tech -3. The preponderance of sharp action is on the visitor +3.5 when it’s available. The opening total of 54 is down to 52.5 because of an expectation that Virginia Tech’s defense can at least slow down Georgia Tech’s option attack.
LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE AT SOUTH ALABAMA (on ESPNU): We’ve flipped favorites here as South Alabama opened at +1…but is now laying 2.5 points as a short home favorite. It doesn’t look like the three will come into play. Sportsbooks know that underdog money would come in fairly heavily at the key number. They’ll likely accept their current position on the game and root for Lafayette. Awkward spot for the house given early Wise Guy betting. Another Under game here from sharps, as an opener of 62 is down to 60.
USC AT COLORADO (on ESPN2): Going to be a cold night in Boulder, particularly for the visitors from Southern California. Game time temperatures should be in the mid 30’s. But, it doesn’t look like wind will be an issue. The Trojans will have to deal with cold and altitude. That hasn’t scared off the sharps who have pushed the opening line of +16 up to +16.5. A few stores are testing the 17 to see if that brings in dog money. It’s expected to based on what my sources are telling me. That may set up a tug-of-war Friday between USC -16.5 and Colorado +17. The public is likely to bet the Trojans if they get involved. Sharps will happily take the +17. The opening total of 60 is up to 61. Slight rise from the quants.
That’s it for football. I mentioned there’s a huge college basketball schedule. Here are a few of the marquee matchups on the Friday afternoon and evening slate…
COLORADO VS #7 IOWA STATE (in South Dakota on ESPN2):
PITTSBURGH VS. #9 GONZAGA (in Okinawa Japan on ESPN)
TEXAS VS. WASHINGTON (in Shanghai, China on ESPN)
That’s Shaka Smart’s first game as head coach for Texas….which should put the game on your radar even if neither the Longhorns nor Huskies are ranked. The nature of the schedule won’t allow me to comment daily on sharp betting in this sport. Lines go up in the morning…and sharps often delay some of their strongest investments until later in the day when more outlets and higher limits are more widely available. Some quick notes…
*The public barely bets college basketball until football is over. So, virtually every line move you see should be considered a sharp move. Oddsmakers aren’t trying to take positions against dumb public money that overrates big name teams. There’s almost no relevant public money to speak of! They react quickly if respected betting suggests the opener is off.
*You as market watchers can get a great read on how the sharps are rating college teams just by studying the daily line moves. They’re basically announcing their own Power Ratings by how they bet…and when they DON’T bet. I always spend a lot of time compiling my own personal ratings. This is my favorite sport to handicap and bet. But, YOU can take a shortcut and study the point differentials between teams as described by the marketplace.
*I would only suggest people bet the early colleges if they’re very confident of reads on programs they follow closely. Maybe you know your local team very well, or your local conference. If you are confident you know how the personnel will perform right out of the gate…there’s nothing wrong with trying to take advantage of soft openers. Just don’t overrate your own knowledge based on what you vaguely remember from last year.
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Back with you at lunchtime Friday for a look at marquee matchups in college football, and then later in the day for our weekly NFL report. See you Friday.
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