Richie Baccellieri: How Sharps are Betting Marquee Football
Some huge games in college football this week. We'll cover those today. Then, I'll come back tomorrow to cover sharp betting in Sunday and Monday NFL.
As always, games are presented in the order they appear in the Nevada Rotation so you can make notes in your schedule. I'll start with a few high-profile matchups from Thursday and Friday.
Seattle at Arizona: The Seahawks opened at -6.5 on the road against their divisional rival. Given their shaky recent form (like losing at home last week to Washington!), there was no interest on the favorite. Sharps realized they weren't likely to get the full seven with the underdog, taking Arizona +6.5. The line dropped to +6, and is now even +5.5 in spot spots. It might take the five for Seattle money to come in. If the public is going to bet the game, they'll want the favorite. This may not be enough of a Thursday night attraction to bring them out to Nevada sportsbooks. Everybody who thought Seattle was going to kill Washington (which drove that line up to -8 on game day) isn't going to do that again just a few days later. The total has been bet down by quants from an opener of 43 to 41 or 40.5. Pretty much only sharp betting in the game so far, which is why dog and Under are getting attention.
North Carolina at Pittsburgh: The Pitt Panthers have been getting respect in the line lately. Sharps thought too much respect at the opener of -10.5. The line has come down through the key number of 10 all the way to North Carolina +9 or +9.5. That's strong support for the dog because there wasn't buy back on the favorite after the slide through 10. A big drop from quants on the total from 53 to 49. Oddsmakers were apparently too high on Pitt's offense.
Washington at Stanford: This was a game everyone was looking forward to a couple of weeks ago. Then, Stanford played horribly in a lucky win at Oregon State, before performing worse than the final score make it look last week at Washington State. The Huskies opened at -7, daring favorite lovers to step in on the national power against the fading dog. Nobody did! Dog money has dropped the number down to Stanford +6 in what's supposed to be a defensive struggle. Quants POUNDED the Under, with the total dropping from 50 to 45. Wind could be an issue Friday evening. But, I'm hearing that the Under money was largely due to the combination of Stanford's struggling offense, and the poor game played by Washington's offense when they travelled down to Arizona State. Telling that we have dramatic "dog and Under" moves in the three highest profile Thursday and Friday games. That suggests public money isn't a very strong early influence right now because so many squares lost a lot of their bankrolls earlier this season.
Michigan State at Ohio State: The huge combination of sharp and square money that's loved Ohio State this season just got spanked hard two weeks in a row, and humiliated last week. So, an opener of Buckeyes -17 has come down to Michigan State +15.5 or +15 depending on the store. Perhaps chalk lovers will come in on game day at -15. Tougher to do after recent results. Sparty isn't in an ideal spot here, though, after that multi-overtime war with Northwestern and the all-day upset of Penn State that had the weather delay. Nothing happening on the total. Weather is supposed to be chilly (38 degrees), but not much of an issue.
TCU at Oklahoma: The first numbers up offshore had Oklahoma -8...which most everyone knew was too high. Other stores opened at -7, with dog money bringing the price down to TCU +6.5 as I write this. We might see a tug-of-war on game day between OU -6.5 and TCU +7. But, as is becoming very clear, public money is shying away from the contending favorites. We'll have to see what brings the squares in. We know that TCU at +7 or more is the sharp side.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State: Weather might be a factor here, with a chance of light rain in the forecast...plus a game time temperature in the low 40's...which is cooler than what a high-octane offense like Okie State prefers. Iowa State has been something special in these "challenge" spots, already knocking off OU and TCU. They might catch Okie State down in the mouth after Bedlam was such a disaster for the Cowboys. An opener of OSU -7 is either at -7 or -6.5 depending on the store. Possibly a tug-of-war on game day. Though, sharps who use weather in their process might come in on the dog stronger on game day if conditions are going to hurt the favorite more than is currently expected.
Notre Dame at Miami: Notre Dame opened at -2.5, and has been bet to the key number of three. Some stores are testing additional juice on the Irish rather than going all the way to -3.5. But, at this point, both sharp and square sentiment looks to be on the cheap favorite. Notre Dame has been improving through the season, while Miami has been inconsistent for an undefeated team. I would expect some dog lovers to come in on the Hurricanes at +3.5. But, my sources are telling me that the Wise Guys like the Irish at -3 or better...and aren't looking to get cute here. The total is up a point from 56.5 to 57.5, though there is a chance of rain and problematic wind.
Alabama at Mississippi State: Nothing happening here on either the side or total, as the openers of Alabama -14 and 51 have stood pat. Those who had been riding Alabama through the season took a financial hit last week against LSU.
Iowa at Wisconsin: There could be some fun debate brewing between the media, who expects all undefeated major conference teams to be invited to the Final Four, and Las Vegas "experts" who don't have Wisconsin anywhere near the top four in the country. The Badgers opened at -13.5 here (well below what Ohio State opened on the road against these same Hawkeyes), with sharp action on Iowa bringing the number down to +12.5 or even +12. The chance for chilly, damp weather could help out the dog. Though, this is a brutal letdown spot off the huge win over Ohio State. I'm interested to see what price brings the public in on Wiscy.
Georgia at Auburn: What's clear to this point is that the Wise Guys would love Auburn at +3 if that comes back into play. We're seeing Georgia -2.5 almost everywhere, with some stores testing the two because of respected interest on the dog. If the public comes in hard on Georgia on game day, we may see a tug-of-war between Georgia -2.5 and Auburn +3. If not, then it's probably going to stick on 2.5 before kickoff. The Over/Under has dropped three points from 50 to 47 because the quants expect both teams to run clock with run-based offenses.
Florida State at Clemson: Would have been impossible to imagine a line this high back during the summer. Clemson opened at -17.5 vs. the slumping Seminoles. Sharps thought that was too high because FSU isn't suddenly blowout fodder even if they've been performing below expectations. We're now seeing Florida State +16 in most places (some +15.5's out there). Sportsbooks will be rooting for favorites come Saturday if the public doesn't come out in droves to lay some chalk.
I'm extremely excited about this weekend, not only because of the great football, but because college basketball season has arrived! You regulars know that's my favorite sport to bet and handicap. 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.
See you tomorrow to talk about the rest of the NFL weekend.
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