Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, December 4, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Not quite as much drama entering Championship Saturday as we’ve seen in the past. Though, upsets to Clemson in the ACC Championship game and Alabama in the SEC Championship could certainly throw a monkey wrench into national title proceedings. For now, it’s expected that the favorites will win those…and Iowa will be playing Michigan State in the Big 10 Championship to earn the final spot in the Final Four along with Oklahoma. (Though…a few sharps think North Carolina has a great shot to at least give Clemson a scare!)
There are seven conference championship games on the Saturday slate. I’m just going to focus on those because the light regular schedule is of minimal importance this year. Games are listed in Nevada rotation order so you can make notes in your schedules.
CUSA CHAMPIONSHIP: SOUTHERN MISS AT WESTERN KENTUCKY (on ESPN2)
The opener of Western Kentucky -8.5 (playing on their home field) has been bet down to Southern Miss +7.5. Sharps who liked the dog figured that was the best they were going to get. But, oddsmakers are confident that money would come in on the favorite if the key number of seven is reached. There is strong Wise Guy support on the dog at +8.5 and +8…but support just as strong would probably come in on the host at -7. We’ll see what game day betting brings. Quants really loved the Over here…as an opener of 71 has been bet all the way up to 75.5 in some spots. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day for football across the nation Saturday. Neither rain nor wind is expected to be an issue in any of the championship matchups.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CHAMPIONSHIP: TEMPLE AT HOUSTON (on ABC)
Houston opened at -6.5 on its home field. Sharps also like the dog here…so we’re seeing Temple +5.5 as the most common number on the board at the moment. That’s just a one-point move…but it’s AWAY from the key number of seven. Very telling when a game opens a half-point from a key number and goes the other direction. The total has fallen from 57 to 54, which is also a sign of support for Temple. They run the ball and play defense…so Temple controlling its own destiny would yield an Under bet too. A lot of old school sharps like betting the better defense in championship games…which lined up with quant gradings on the matchup.
PAC 12 CHAMPIONSHIP: USC VS. STANFORD (in Santa Clara on ESPN)
Another game that moved away from a key number…but this time it was the favorite going up. USC is no longer a darling of the sharps! Stanford opened at -3.5, on what might be interpreted as a partial home field since Palo Alto is closer to Santa Clara than LA is. Sharps bet that up to -4 and -4.5, with some stores now testing the five. Big difference from the regular season meeting when USC was -9.5 at the Coliseum. The opening Over/Under of 61 has been bet down to 58.5 because it’s expected that Stanford will run clock…and that USC won’t get all the cheap points they enjoyed last week against UCLA.
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: FLORIDA VS. ALABAMA (in Atlanta on CBS)
Big move on Alabama, who was already a large favorite to begin with. Alabama opened at -16. It’s up to -18 now. That move blew through the key number of 17 without any buy back. Florida’s offense has looked awful the past month. The Wise Guys don’t see how the team is going to score many points. The Over/Under opened at a low 40, and has stood pat. Those lines reflect a projected score of 29-11 for ‘Bama. Just 11 points projected for the Gators!
MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP: AIR FORCE AT SAN DIEGO STATE (on ESPN2)
We move to prime time now…at least for the Eastern time zone. This is actually a 4:30 p.m. start in San Diego (and here in Las Vegas). Not much betting interest yet. The opener of San Diego State -6.5 has largely stood pat. Some stores are testing the six. That tells you sharps DON’T like SDSU or they would have bet the game up immediately toward the seven. Those betting are on the dog…enough to push some stores away from the key number. The total is down from 52.5 to 49 as quants see a lot of running.
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP: NORTH CAROLINA VS CLEMSON (in Charlotte on ABC)
A lot of sharps have been high on North Carolina down the stretch of the regular season…and they’ve stepped in here to back the Tar Heels. An opener of Clemson -5.5 is down to UNC +4.5 in many spots. And, that’s despite a recognition that the public would probably be taking Clemson on game day because the #1 team is posted at a cheap price. The Wise Guys didn’t want to wait! That’s a common sign of strong sharp support…when there’s a feeding frenzy early rather than waiting to see if a line goes up. The Over/Under has shot up from an opener of 63 to 68. That’s also a reflection of support for UNC…who plays at a very fast, attacking pace. Quants got a grading a few points higher than the opener and then great weather showed up in the forecast. If the Wise Guys are right…things could get VERY exciting in Charlotte (on the home field of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers) Saturday night.
BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP: IOWA VS. MICHIGAN STATE (on Indianapolis on FOX)
Michigan State opened on the key number of three…and was bet up to -3.5. That’s a big move even though it’s only half a point because three is such an important number. There wasn’t buy back on Iowa even with the hook! So, we know that sharps like Michigan State, and are skeptical about Iowa’s chances to win a big game on a neutral field. Vegas oddsmakers quoted in the media have been fairly vocal about Iowa being seen as a national pretender. Certainly true that at least a dozen major college teams would be neutral field favorites over Iowa. Small correction from the quants on the opening total, as 52.5 has been bet down to 51.
I’m definitely looking forward to Championship Saturday…along with the huge college basketball schedule running right alongside. My BEST BETS in football and basketball can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about long term packages, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Friday or before first kick on Saturday.
Thanks for reading. See you around dinner time Friday to run through sharp betting in this week’s NFL. You can imagine the screams heard ‘round Vegas when Green Bay won (and covered) on that untimed final play Thursday night. That also turned an Under game Over too. Nightmare for sharps…and a dramatic way to start a new football weekend!
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