Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 12:00 PM
You'd think that the most prominent conference in college basketball would have a tough time covering point spreads. They're on TV all the time. The public loves betting big name programs. The media loves hyping all the schools appearing in their telecasts. And, Dick Vitale should go into the ACC Hall of Fame just for all the praise he's heaped on Duke and North Carolina in his broadcasting career.
Yet, that conference hasn't been overrated this season. It's been extremely UNDER-rated. Check out the ATS records for all 15 teams. And, remember that any "conference" game is both a win and a loss for the league. The great records are coming at the expense of outside opponents.
ACC ATS Records
Florida State 9-2-1
Virginia Tech 7-4
North Carolina 8-5-1
Wake Forest 6-5-1
Boston College 5-4
Georgia Tech 5-5
Notre Dame 5-6
NC State 3-5
That's NINE teams with a winning record against the spread (60% of the conference!). Four teams are at 67% or better. Only four teams are below the .500 mark, and none of those is worse than two games below. Florida State is 9-2-1, but nobody's 2-9-1. Virginia and Clemson are 8-3, but nobody's 3-8. Louisville's going through some very tough times off-the-court, yet the Cards are still just a couple of games below .500 vs. the market.
This is an amazing performance from a CONFERENCE, particularly one that's so well chronicled in the media. If you watched the Big 10/ACC challenge a few weeks ago, you know that the ACC owned that event outside of Notre Dame losing badly to national superpower Michigan State. Come March, it's going to be important to remember that these teams could still be undervalued once they're matched up against outsiders again. That will be true in the Big Dance and the NIT.
What happened? Why has the market been underpricing the ACC all season, particularly failing to realize how good Duke, Virginia, and Florida State are compared to early expectations?
I've been talking to sharps about this. Here are a few reasons:
*The quants have been slow to catch on...and the math guys have an inordinate influence on the line these days. Opening lines from offshore are greatly influenced by modeling systems. Sharp syndicates have their own. Those methodologies entered the season behind the curve and haven't yet caught up. Plus, math guys assume hot early starts are going to "regress," but many hot starters have kept right on playing well.
*Sports books don't move the lines as much as they used to against public action. They don't mind taking positions against the public. You've seen this with the New England Patriots in the NFL the past few seasons. Everyone knows the Patriots are great. Squares keep betting them. But the lines don't move high enough because sports book operators figure "fading the public" will get the job done over time. So far in the 2017-18 season, the pubic hasn't been penalized for its ACC preferences because sports books haven't adjusted enough.
*Many teams have made legitimate upgrades in talent and approach this season. Duke recruited well. The market didn't give the Blue Devils enough credit for how good they were going to be. But, up-and-down the league, teams are better in Power Ratings than they were last season. For some it's recruiting. For others, it's veteran experience. Some coaches have stopped being stubborn about using outdated strategies. Maybe next season will be tougher after some impact players graduate or move to the next level. For now, this really is a talented conference. And, it's a conference that got better while some others (like the Big 10 in terms of overall depth) got worse.
Knowing the ACC is having a banner year won't help you much when everyone's playing each other. Now it's time for smart bettors to focus on which specific teams are best positioned to thrive in the conference race...and which are doomed to sink to the bottom because they can't keep up. Studying the ACC can still be very valuable because the market may still underprice "public" teams who actually know what they're doing.
Now that football is winding down, I'll devote more space here in my articles to college basketball. You longtime readers know it's my favorite sport to handicap and bet. For you football fans, I'll be here Friday at the usual time to cover Wildcard Weekend and Monday Night's college football National Championship game featuring Alabama and Georgia.
If you'd like some help from your "friend behind the line," you can purchase my BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the office at 1-888-777-4155. Sign up at a great rate for all picks through the Super Bowl next month, or through March Madness. You can guess that THIS is my favorite time in the sports betting schedule. College basketball is ready to stand front and center, and nobody is better prepared to find smart bets than yours truly. I'm 27-12-1 for 69.2% the past couple of weeks in this sport.
Thanks for reading. See you again Friday to recap how sharps have been betting this weekend's huge football matchups, and try to anticipate how the smart money will flow right up to kickoff.