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Big Ten isn't presenting much of a challenge to ACC

Jeff Fogle
VSiN City newsletter

The ACC is absolutely eviscerating the Big Ten so far in their college basketball challenge. Details, plus Thursday NFL, and an updated college football Championship Week “Market Watch” today in VSiN City.

College Basketball: ACC is 11-2 straight up, 9-3-1 against the spread so far vs. the Big Ten
Some challenge! The ACC is making a very clear case for national superiority so far in the annual Big Ten-ACC head-to-head battles. The Big Ten is being exposed as likely pretenders on almost a game-by-game basis. 

Let’s quickly review what’s happened so far this week (a few more games tonight, including the much anticipated Notre Dame/Michigan State showdown). In the results below, we put the point spreads by each Big Ten entry to help provide some consistency to the structure. That will give you a quicker sense of the Big Ten’s failures against expectations.

Monday (ACC 2-0 straight up, 1-1 ATS)
Maryland (plus 2.5) at Syracuse…Syracuse wins 72-70 (B10 cover)
Wisconsin (plus 7.5) at Virginia…Virginia wins 49-37

Tuesday (ACC 4-1 straight up, 3-1-1 ATS)
Florida State at Rutgers (plus 5)…Florida State wins 78-73 (push)
Northwestern (-2.5) at Georgia Tech…Tech wins 52-51
Louisville at Purdue (-8.5)…Purdue rallies late to win 66-57 (B10 cover)
Illinois (plus 2.5) at Wake Forest…Wake wins 80-73
Iowa (plus 8.5) at Virginia Tech…Tech wins 79-55

Wednesday (ACC 5-1 straight up, 5-1 ATS)
Penn State (-3) at NC State…State wins 85-78
Clemson at Ohio State (-5.5)…Clemson wins 79-65
Michigan (plus 9) at North Carolina…NC wins 86-71
Boston College at Nebraska (-3)…Nebraska wins 72-62 (B10 cover)
Miami at Minnesota (-6)…Miami wins 86-81
Duke at Indiana (plus 9)…Duke wins 91-81

ACC covers by: 4.5, 3.5, 4.5, 15.5, 10, 19.5, 6, 11, 1
B10 covers by: 0.5, 0.5, 7

The Big Ten has only covered three of 13, and two of those were by half a point! The ACC has FOUR double-digit covers. The average result is an ACC cover by 5.2 points. Clearly, the market has either underrated the ACC, or overrated the Big Ten at this stage of the season. 

Let’s dig into the boxscore stats for Miami/Minnesota, a matchup of teams ranked in the top dozen in the AP poll. That would suggest a Sweet 16 type showdown, though early season rankings are often way off true quality. 

#10 Miami (plus 6) 86, #12 Minnesota 81
Two-Point Pct: Miami 57%, Minnesota 49%
Three Pointers: Miami 10/25, Minnesota 5/16
Free Throws: Miami 6/11, Minnesota 20/26
Rebounds: Miami 34, Minnesota 41
Turnovers: Miami 8, Minnesota 12

On its home floor, as a 6-point favorite, in what could have been a statement game in such a high-profile spot, the Golden Gophers led for only two minutes of the first half, and none of the second half. 

Great shooting night for the visiting Hurricanes. Going 10 of 25 on treys is like hitting 60% on two-pointers. They almost matched that with their actual two-point attempts (25 of 44). Minnesota needed a big edge from the free throw line (possibly some friendly officiating because there obviously wasn’t a Gopher free-throw parade from protecting a lead) just to lose by five. 

Given standard home court value, the market considered Minnesota the superior side coming in. Maybe the pollsters were right instead. Miami was extremely clean on offense in a road tester. 

Room for the Wednesday finale…

#1 Duke (-9) 91, Indiana 81 
Two-Point Pct: Duke 70%, Indiana 66%
Three Pointers: Duke 3/17, Indiana 5/21
Free Throws: Duke 22/29, Indiana 16/26
Rebounds: Duke 33, Indiana 31
Turnovers: Duke 8, Indiana 9

Closer than the final score makes it seem. Much like Louisville/Purdue the other night…where the favorite was nip-and-tuck until a very late pull-away. Can’t begrudge Duke a letdown spot after that huge weekend in Portland. They had to rally to beat Portland State (?), Texas, and Florida. Not much time to truly prepare for this. 

If you’re not really following college hoops yet…be aware that Duke is very much an INSIDE team this season because of its star freshmen. The Blue Devils are going to be a handful for anyone to deal with in the paint. You can see they shot a whopping 70% on deuces, while also earning more trips to the free throw line on the road in front of a loud crowd. Though, inside defense was too soft. 

We’ll wrap up our coverage if the Big 10-ACC Challenge tomorrow.  

College Football “Market Watch”: Championship Weekend Showdowns
Continuing our day-to-day coverage of the betting markets for all the college football conference championship games. We start with the Power 5, then finish out with the Mid-Majors. 

Pac 12 Championship: USC vs. Stanford in Santa Clara, CA
Opener: USC by 3, total of 57
Tuesday morning: USC by 3.5, total of 59
Wednesday morning: USC by 3.5, total of 58.5 
Thursday morning: USC by 4, total of 58.5

This will be played Friday night (the rest Saturday). Trojans -4 is much more common now in Nevada. Offshore foreshadowed this the day before. If the public is going to line up on a side on game day…it’s going to be USC. So, we may see -4.5 or even -5 come into play if a bandwagon effect is spurred. Stanford money is biding its time, and may not be that motivated anyway given how easily USC won the first matchup. 

SEC Championship: Auburn vs. Georgia in Atlanta, GA
Opener: Auburn by 3, total of 51
Tuesday morning: Auburn by 2.5, total of 49
Wednesday morning: Auburn by 2.5, total of 49
Thursday morning: Auburn by 2.5, total of 48

The total has started to drop. This one’s indoors, so weather isn’t the cause. We talked about the potential for a defensive struggle in a preview of their first meeting. Auburn was more explosive than expected that day. Might be tougher in the rematch off the big upset of Alabama. Georgia knows how to sit on a lead if it gets one. We’re starting to see that Georgia respect on the team side line (hanging just below a key number) is also showing up in the Over/Under. Georgia doesn’t want to play a shootout. If you like Georgia, you like the Under too. 

ACC Championship: Clemson vs. Miami in Charlotte, NC
Opener: Clemson by 7.5, total of 48
Tuesday morning: Clemson by 9.5, total of 47.5
Wednesday morning: Clemson by 9, total of 47.5
Thursday morning: Clemson by 9.5, total of 46.5

Miami receiver Ahmmon Richards suffered a knee injury in practice Wednesday. He’ll miss this game and Miami’s bowl. That brought in money on Clemson and the Under. It might also bring Clemson -10 into play by kickoff. Miami’s suffering from attrition, and couldn’t get much on the board vs. Pittsburgh last weekend. The market is expecting Clemson’s defense to control the flow of play.  

Big Ten Championship: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin in Indianapolis, IN
Opener: Ohio State by 5.5, total of 53.5
Tuesday morning: Ohio State by 6, total of 53
Wednesday morning: Ohio State by 6.5, total of 52
Thursday morning: Ohio State by 6.5, total of 52.5

Not much happening, though the total moved back up a half point. Important that we’re staying below the key number. A “settled” line of 6.5 means that many sharps are looking to hit the dog, and will jump in hard at the seven. We’re NOT seeing enough OSU sentiment from other quarters to make that happen yet. If the public drives the line higher Saturday, we’ll have a big “Pro’s vs. Joe’s” split. Sharps who wanted the Buckeyes got in at -5.5 and -6. 

Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma vs. TCU in Arlington, TX
Opener: Oklahoma by 7, total of 61.5
Tuesday morning: Oklahoma by 7, total of 63.5
Wednesday morning: Oklahoma by 7, total of 63.5
Thursday morning: Oklahoma by 7, total of 63.5

Very quiet all week since the initial total move. Sharps don’t like OU at this line (or it would have risen already). We can assume they’re waiting to see if the public helps bring plus 7.5 into play before kickoff. 

The Mid-Majors aren’t getting much media run. But, these games will attract more betting action than you usually see in these conferences.

Conference USA Championship: North Texas at Florida Atlantic
Opener: Florida Atlantic by 10, total of 74.5
Wednesday morning: Florida Atlantic by 10.5, total of 74
Thursday morning: Florida Atlantic by 11, total of 74

More interest in Lane Kiffin’s bunch. No sign of a buy-back on the dog yet. Some offshore places are showing FAU -11.5, which likely means Nevada will be there soon. Might take a dirty dozen for the Mean Green to attract support. 

American Athletic Championship: Memphis at Central Florida
Opener: UCF by 7, total of 81
Wednesday morning: UCF by 7, total of 82
Thursday morning: UCF by 7, total of 83

A variety of totals out there, ranging from 82 to 83.5 depending on the shop. Like TCU/OU in that the game is sitting on seven in a way that suggests underdog money is biding its time in case something better comes along. 

Mid-American Championship: Toledo vs. Akron in Detroit, MI
Opener: Toledo by 18.5, total of 54
Wednesday morning: Toledo by 21.5, total of 57.5
Thursday morning: Toledo by 21.5, total of 57.5

Interested money already staked its claim early. 

Mountain West Championship: Fresno State at Boise State
Opener: Boise State by 8.5, total of 48
Wednesday morning: Boise State by 8.5, total of 49
Thursday morning: Boise State by 8.5, total of 50

The total is still rising, which likely means nicer weather than you’d normally expect on the first Saturday of December in Idaho. Some Nevada books are testing Boise State -9, suggesting they all may be there before kickoff. 

We’ll close out the Championship Week “Market Watch” tomorrow. We’ll do what we can to continue this coverage approach for major bowls and the NFL Playoffs.

Thursday NFL: Washington now the favorite at Dallas
You’ve probably noticed that the Dallas Cowboys have collapsed in recent weeks. Their three-game losing streak since Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension have all been in high profile TV games. Hopefully a bet on Dallas didn’t ruin your Thanksgiving dinner! The betting markets are trying to figure out how to price an NFL team in free fall.

Washington (5-6) at Dallas (5-6)
Las Vegas Line: Washington by 1.5, total of 45.5
Estimated Market Power Ratings: Washington 78, Dallas 74 (?) 

The point spread has crossed pick-em since we posted this week’s estimated “market” Power Ratings back on Tuesday. Given that we can’t justify pushing Washington up to Wildcard caliber off the lethargic win over the Giants, we’ve now had to drop Dallas down to 74…meaning equal to the likes of the NY Jets, Denver, Green Bay (with Hundley), and Arizona (with Gabbert).

What’s the “right” place to put Dallas? How could anyone know? They’ve been outscored 82-17 since halftime of the Atlanta game…at a combined spread of about plus 10 points in those two-and-a-half games. Looking at the lengths of TD drives has been a helpful element of our boxscore coverage this season. Check THIS out from those 10 quarters…

Offensive Touchdown Drive Lengths Since Halftime of Atlanta Game
Opponents: 75-72-75-75-90-85-77-92-75
Cowboys: 81

That’s a 9-1 deficit in offensive touchdowns. Amazingly, what you see above is almost the exact order they happened in! Opponents ran off seven offensive TD drives before Dallas snuck it’s score in there right between the 77 and 92 near the end of the opponents’ line. That was when LAC led 16-0 on Thanksgiving afternoon. The Chargers would add that 75-yard drive and a defensive score to win 28-6. 

Where do we begin. Allowing NINE touchdown drives of 72 yards or more in 2.5 games is awful in the NFL. Sure, they were facing some elite offenses in there. But…they were facing them like they were playing flag football. Blindfolded. Horrible tackling, and ZERO forced turnovers in those 10 quarters.

The offense disappeared. The loss of Ezekiel Elliott is obviously a factor. His absence shouldn’t turn them from a team that could beat Washington 33-19 on the road and beat Kansas City 28-17 in Arlington into an expansion caliber laughingstock. 

Something’s going on. Any proposed theory is going to draw “that’s a stretch” condemnation. But, SOMETHING happened. The market did a good job of recognizing that with Philadelphia’s line moving to -6 in Dallas after the Atlanta collapse, and then both LAC and Washington being bet to road favorites. 

We’re not going to run our usual stat preview. The full season stats don’t really matter unless Dallas starts trying again. Washington and Kirk Cousins can match what LAC and Philip Rivers did on this field. Those are similar teams. If Dallas shows up, it can win straight up. Your handicapping challenge is to determine whether or not the Cowboys are going to play 60 minutes of motivated football…against a team they’ve already defeated.

NBA: Updated estimate of “market” Power Ratings
Time for this week’s NBA update. You regulars know how these work. We use three points for home court advantage in basketball (same as the value for home field advantage in football). NBA numbers are more volatile day-to-day because of injuries, schedule dynamics, and other influences. 

92: Golden State
85: Houston
84: Cleveland, Boston
83: Toronto, Oklahoma City
82: Philadelphia, Minnesota, San Antonio  
81: Milwaukee, Washington, New Orleans, Portland 
80: Charlotte, Detroit, Miami, Denver
78: Indiana, Orlando 
77: New York (home), Memphis, LA Clippers
76: New York (road), Utah
75: Dallas, LA Lakers 
74: Brooklyn, 
73: Atlanta, Phoenix
71: Chicago, Sacramento

The market has noticed that New York is showing a pretty extreme home/road split. Wednesday’s rout of Miami brought the Knicks to 11-3 ATS at Madison Square Garden, compared to 2-5 ATS on the road. We’ll acknowledge that in our own estimate of the markets for the time being (that stuff doesn’t always hold). 

We may have to think about doing that with Oklahoma City soon. The market isn’t tweaking prices yet. But, OKC is 6-3 ATS at home, an awful 2-9 ATS on the road. Thunder are now 1-5 ATS their last six wherever they were played. What had been a lack of synchronicity late in close games is now just a full-blown situation of some sort. 

Back with you Friday to close out the week. We’ll dig a bit deeper into the marquee championship games, talk some NFL, and maybe squeeze in some more college basketball too. 

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