Battle of Superpowers set for bettors

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

May 26, 2017 07:08 AM
© USA Today Sports Images

You can bet Cleveland/Golden State in the NBA Finals…you can bet Pittsburgh/Nashville in the NHL Finals…and you can even bet Alabama/Florida State in a dream college football season opener. The “bet” signal is flying high over the citizens of VSiN City!

NBA: Cleveland wins the East with another blowout in Boston

This one was over seconds after began. A perfect scenario for public bettors enamored with “Superpower and Over” tandem combinations…and a nightmare for sports books. Cleveland and Over was seemingly locked in after a 43-27 first period, and 75-57 first half. Instead of hinting at a garbage time rally, beleaguered Boston fell behind by 35 entering the fourth quarter!

Cleveland (-9.5) 135, Boston 102

  • Two-Point Pct: Cleveland 66%, Boston 46%
  • Three Pointers: Cleveland 19/41, Boston 11/30
  • Turnovers: Cleveland 11, Boston 18

Your standard Cleveland blowout boxscore. They get easy buckets at the rim. They shoot great at volume from the outside if you send defensive resources to protect the rim. No workable options for outmanned opponents. 

If you’re keeping track of pace, it was a virtual replay of Game 2 with 99 possessions per team. That one ended 130-86 for the Cavs. That sets up an interesting challenge against Golden State. Cleveland really has been pouring it on when they run…but good luck running against the Warriors! 

Let’s wrap up the “Superpower and Over” records since the Superpowers are finally ready to play each other.

Golden State and Cleveland in the playoffs

  • 24-1 straight up
  • 15-8-2 against the spread (65% winners)
  • 18-7 to the Over (72% winners)
  • 33-15-2 combination of team and Over (69% winners)

The NBA Finals begin Thursday, June 1. It’s frustrating for avid basketball fans to have to wait so long. On the other hand, there are two weeks leading into the Super Bowl. And, this is basically the equivalent of the best New England Patriots team of the Belichick/Brady era matched up against itself with a championship on the line. Golden State was already historically great before adding Kevin Durant. Cleveland is the defending NBA champ, and has improved from last season’s high level. 

Jeff Sherman of the Westgate tweeted out his Game 1 line Thursday during the fourth quarter. He has it Golden State -7, with a total of 225.5. A series price of Golden State -260, Cleveland plus 220 is in line with what the market has been showing all week. The South Point opened with the same -7/225.5. You can check for updates here.

We’ll step away from the NBA until it’s time to preview the Finals. Though, if interesting betting developments occur in the market, you can bet we’ll be right on top of them.

NHL: In double overtime…Pittsburgh survives 7-game Eastern battle with Ottawa

After a night of tilted ice gave host Pittsburgh more scoring opportunities than Ottawa, the Penguins finally netted the game winner with a flipping floater from distance that left Senators defenders frozen in their tracks long through the black-and-gold celebration.

Pittsburgh (-235) 3, Ottawa 2 (in double overtime)

  • Shots: Ottawa 29, Pittsburgh 42

Ottawa, underdogs in all three of their postseason matchups, valiantly tried to steal a trip to the championship round. Pittsburgh won shot count in the third period and overtime by a 21-12 count to force their way into the Stanley Cup Finals. 

This one continued the late series theme of Pittsburgh struggling to convert on its additional chances. Shot counts in the final four games went Pittsburgh’s way by tallies of 35-26, 36-25, 46-30, and 42-29. Yet, two of those were one-goal wins for the heavy series favorite, and one a one-goal loss. 

The NHL Finals begin Monday May 29 when Pittsburgh hosts the Nashville Predators.

College Football: Week One lines are up at the South Point

The South Point was the first sportsbook globally to post bettable point spreads for Week 1 of the 2017 College Football regular season. We hope you watched those go up live at 6 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. here in Las Vegas on “My Guys in the Desert” with Brent Musburger

Bettors were limited to $1,000 per bet. In the first hour, only one window was open. Enthusiasts were limited to three bets per visit to the window before having to return to the end of the line. This allowed the South Point to move line moves on money in a way that offered value to customers up front but protected the house. All windows were open after an hour. The sportsbook is open 24 hours a day to offer convenient betting for tourists and locals alike. 

There were two games that EVERYONE was interested in for Week One. It’s largely a “blowout” schedule except for:

Alabama vs. Florida State (in Atlanta) on ABC at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. in Vegas

Alabama went up early at -3, but was soon was bet up to -4. A tricky one for oddsmakers because Florida State returns more experienced talent, but Nick Saban’s program has a history of dominating quality opponents in season openers.

  • 2016: Alabama (-13.5) beat USC 52-6
  • 2015: Alabama (-12.5) beat Wisconsin 35-17
  • 2014: Alabama (-22) beat West Virginia 33-23 (non-cover)
  • 2013: Alabama (-21.5) beat Virginia Tech 35-10
  • 2012: Alabama (-13) beat Michigan 41-14

We’re likely to see a split between public money on Alabama in a big TV game, and sharp money on a talented underdog with upset potential. Where will the line ultimately settle? We have a few months to figure that out!

Florida vs. Michigan (in Arlington) on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET, 12:30 p.m. in Vegas

Michigan opened as a field goal favorite. Coach Jim Harbaugh draws eyeballs to the TV, and bettors to the window. Michigan is getting a lot of respect in this price considering Florida’s edge in returning talent. Media hype kind of brushed under the rug last season how poorly Michigan played down the stretch. Some lowlights.

  • Michigan was -24.5 over a Michigan State team that would finish 3-9, but only won total yardage 436-401 in a surprisingly close 32-23 win.
  • *Michigan was -24 over an Iowa team that would finish 8-5, but was outgained 230-201 in a shocking 14-13 upset loss.
  • Michigan was -24 over an Indiana team that would finish 6-7, and only managed a meek 20-10 victory with a 285-255 yardage advantage.
  • Michigan (-7.5) was stunned in its bowl game by talented Florida State 33-32, getting outclassed in total yardage 371-252. 

In 2016, Michigan had a tough defense…but it’s oft-sputtering offense wasn’t reliable in the second half of the season (Michigan was 2-5 ATS over its last seven games). Harbaugh will have to fix that issue for this year’s team to become a value bet.

You can see the first lines up for every Week One game in this article posted by Matt Youmans here at the website. If you missed the original broadcast featuring Chris Andrews, Vinny Magliulo, and Jimmy Vaccaro…and would like to watch a replay…please click here. Note that Chris and Vinny also spent some time with Gill Alexander on “A Numbers Game” outlining their process on this major project. Definitely worth a look for hardcore handicappers

MLB: Cubs/Dodgers is this weekend’s marquee matchup

Sports fans may have to wait for the NBA Finals…and the NHL Finals…and a long time for college football to get here. But, a BLOCKBUSTER baseball series starts Friday night when the two current co-favorites in the South Point National League futures prices square off. The Chicago Cubs visit the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both are two-to-one on the betting board, just head of Washington and Colorado in the senior circuit. 

Cubs/Dodgers is a playoff rematch from last season, and a potential playoff preview for this coming October. 

Let’s run some numbers. We talked the other day about the importance of evaluating offense and bullpen when handicapping 9-inning baseball. Let’s start with those before delving into the probable pitchers. 

Offense (using “weighted on base” called “wOBA”)

  • Chicago Cubs: .323 wOBA, ranked #8 in the NL, #13 in the Majors
  • LA Dodgers: .331 wOBA, ranked #5 in the NL, #7 in the Majors 

Los Angeles has been more productive with the bats this season. Handicappers must determine much they want to weight “season-to-date” data for a pair of teams who are both expected to be higher up in the September standings than they are now. 

Bullpen performance and ranking

  • Chicago Cubs: 3.40 ERA, #3 in the NL, #8 in the Majors
  • LA Dodgers: 3.01 ERA, #1 in the NL, #4 in the Majors

Hard to know how meaningful that edge is for the Dodgers because they haven’t had to pitch through Wrigley Field homestands where the wind was blowing out! Again, quality for both teams. Assume a slight edge for the Dodgers in these categories. 

Friday’s probable pitchers

  • Jake Arrieta (Chicago): 4.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP (3.77 xFIP)
  • Alex Wood (Los Angeles): 1.88 ERA, 1.02 WHIP (2.39 xFIP)

This is a game that sharps have been looking at since anticipating the pitching matchup last weekend. You have Jake Arrieta, who’s been struggling badly from the get-go in 2017. And, he’s matched up against a hot pitcher Brent Musburger alerted you to two Saturdays ago. Alex Wood has increased his velocity this year in a way that’s made him seem like another Clayton Kershaw. Even if you go with fielding independent pitching to shade early extremes…you get a big edge to Wood. The first number up late Thursday was Wood -135. Let’s see if the line rises through the day Friday. 


Saturday’s probable pitchers

  • John Lackey (Chicago): 4.82 ERA, 1.39 WHIP (3.83 xFIP)
  • Brandon McCarthy (Los Angeles) 3.76 ERA, 1.18 WHIP (3.52 xFIP)

McCarthy’s impressive edges in ERA and WHIP shrink a bit once xFIP comes into the picture. The better representation of skill sets and future performance gives an edge to McCarthy, but not a big one.

Sunday’s probable pitchers

  • Jon Lester (Chicago) 3.19 ERA, 1.26 WHIP (3.36 xFIP)
  • Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles) 2.01 ERA, 0.82 WHIP (2.84 xFIP)

Great pitching matchup! It’s a shame ESPN had locked itself into a different Sunday night game in advance scheduling. Once this pitchers duel was set, it became one of the marquee games of the whole season. Kershaw out-stats everybody so his edge here is no surprise. You’ll have to determine if the price properly reflects the true difference in talent between these pitchers and teams…or if the standard “Kershaw tax” is a bit too high. 

In other MLB matchups of note this weekend:

  • Arizona/Milwaukee has already begun, with the Diamondbacks taking the opener in a four-game set 4-0 Thursday night. It’s weird to think of this matchup as important…but we have two teams who began Thursday sitting in front of the Dodgers and Cubs in their respective divisions! In Friday’s game, Milwaukee’s Guerra opened as a very slight favorite over Arizona’s Godley. 
  • St. Louis/Colorado begins Friday in Denver. We mentioned yesterday this will be a good tester series against quality for the surprising Rockies. Martinez of St. Louis was a favorite of -125 overnight vs. Senzatela of Colorado.
  • Baltimore/Houston is the top series in the American League. Houston may have already locked up the AL West given its early season form. Baltimore has impressed out of the gate, but is still burdened with a brutal AL East schedule. Musgrove of Houston opened at -140 over Gausman of Baltimore

Those three plus Cubs/Dodgers are the only MLB pairings this weekend featuring two teams with winning records. Tampa Bay/Minnesota will become another if the Rays (currently at .500) win the series opener Friday (Archer of TB opened at -130 over Santiago). 

That wraps up another busy week in VSiN City. Thanks for your interest and support as VSiN continues to build a one-of-its-kind network to serve those interested in the sports betting markets. If you have any questions or feedback about the network or newsletter, please drop us a note. Don’t forget that daily email delivery for VSiN City can be set up by clicking here. Follow us on twitter for programming bulletins and sports betting news.

Have a great weekend!

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