Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 6:00 PM
The ACC’s Coastal Division is always one of the most wide-open races during college football’s regular season, which means it’s also one of the best moneymakers for savvy bettors on the futures market. This year is no different. Las Vegas sees the division race as likely to come down to four teams, all of whom have at least a respectable price…
Miami (2-1): The Hurricanes are the only undefeated team among the contenders. Given that the opposition has been Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic & Appalachian State that’s not impressive on its face. What is impressive that the ‘Canes are also 3-0 ATS. No one disputes that Miami has the division’s best quarterback in Brad Kaaya. Now we’re also watching them actually meet expectations in the new Mark Richt era.
North Carolina (9-4): UNC is 2-1, both on the field and at the betting window. It is worth noting that a 33-24 loss to Georgia as a (-3.5) dog played out closer to the number much of the way. A bigger concern is that the Tar Heels still don’t show a lot of interest in playing defense—they rank 82nd in the country in spite of games against Illinois and James Madison.
Virginia Tech (4-1): The Justin Fuentes era didn’t start great, with a 36-13 non-cover win over Liberty, a game the Hokies needed to force turnovers in. But they jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Tennessee before that game and ATS cover got away in a 45-24 loss. And Tech picked up the pace last week with a 49-0 trouncing of Boston College. What’s most impressive is the work of quarterback Jerod Evans—he’s completing 67% of his passes, getting a solid 8.3 yards-per-attempt and has a 10-1 TD/INT ratio. Quarterback play has usually been the weak point of this program. If Evans plays like this in conference games, the Hokies offer value at 4-1.
Pitt (9-2): The Panthers seem to find a way to play a little below expectations no matter what. They’re 2-1 and against a schedule that includes Penn State and Oklahoma State, that can’t be sneered at. But Pitt’s 42-39 win over Penn State was a push only because Vegas sharps took an inflated (-6) line at the start of the week and bet it to (-3) by kickoff. The Panthers failed to cover in the win over Villanova and the loss to Oklahoma State.
The betting market doesn’t give much hope to Georgia Tech (17-2), Duke (20-1) or Virginia (30-1), though that may change depending on how the Yellow Jackets look tonight against Clemson.
Wherever your conviction lies in this race, the time to invest is now. North Carolina and Pitt play on Saturday. Miami goes to Georgia Tech in two weeks and Virginia Tech travels to UNC on October 8. If you like the favored Hurricanes, the chances to get them at 2-1 won’t be there long if they continue to play up to expectations. If you like one of the three other contenders, their prices will certainly drop if they win notable games.
And the quality of the prices makes hedging strategies possible—i.e., use Miami as a break-even team and then bet an equal amount on one of the longshots for your profit margin. However you’ve handicapped this race, don’t let the moneymaking opportunity pass you by.