August arrives with a fury! Urban Meyer placed on administrative leave at Ohio State…Buckeyes futures pulled from some Vegas boards. The red-hot Oakland A’s have chased down Seattle in the AL wild-card race. Oh… the NFL preseason kicks off in hours! Never time to rest in VSiN City.
College Football: Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer placed on administrative leave
As you likely know by now, Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer was placed on administrative leave Tuesday afternoon after reports surfaced suggesting that he may have known about domestic violence allegations in 2015 regarding then-assistant coach Zach Smith. (If you’re late to the story, here’s ESPN’s recap).
Vegas sports books reacted quickly to the news, which broke while South Point sports book director Chris Andrews was appearing live on “My Guys in the Desert.” Here’s a clip of Chris leaving the studio so he could race back to the counter to pull futures prices off the board. (Bonus clip: Gill Alexander and Josh Towers react to the initial reports of Meyers' alleged knowledge earlier in the day.)
Many books pulled Ohio State from national championship and Big Ten Championship futures options until further notice. Some spots immediately adjusted prices…particularly in the Big Ten where contenders like Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin will have a better chance to win the title if Meyer is suspended or fired.
Be sure you watch Mitch and Pauly on “Follow the Money,” and Gill Alexander on “A Numbers Game” for the latest market updates as they happen Thursday morning.
Sports Betting: Mississippi takes its first legal football bets
Before the Urban Meyer news broke late Tuesday, the sports betting industry was focused on a historic day in Mississippi. Dignitaries and former star athletes were part of festivities at Beau Rivage in Biloxi, and Gold Strike in Tunica. (Click here to read details from David Purdum of ESPN).
At noon local time, Mississippi officially joined the growing list of states accepting sports bets. Welcome to all of you who are recent subscribers from The Magnolia State. Don’t forget that VSiN will be providing sports handicapping/betting content to the Biloxi Sun Herald through the season. Started last week. A look at SEC futures is in today’s edition. NFL notes scheduled for Saturday.
AL Wednesday: Oakland catches Seattle in wild-card race with win over Toronto, loss by Mariners to Houston
As if Wednesday afternoon wasn’t busy enough! This might have been our lead story had it happened on another day. Oakland’s amazing rampage through the American League in recent weeks has brought the A’s dead even with the Seattle Mariners in the wild-card race.
AL wild-card (top two qualify)
NY Yankees 68-38
Seattle 63-45 (six games back)
Oakland 64-46 (six games back)
It’s going to be a three-team race for two spots unless Tampa Bay or the LA Angels catch fire while TWO of the current contenders fall apart. Seattle does have a one-game lead in the loss column, which means the Mariners have slightly more control of their destiny. Plenty of destiny left with more than 50 games remaining per team.
A quick peek at how it happened…
Oakland (-130) 8, Toronto 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Toronto 18, Oakland 21
Starting Pitchers: Stroman 5 IP, 7 ER, Manaea 6 IP, 1 ER
Bullpen: Toronto 3 IP, 1 ER, Oakland 3 IP, 2 ER
Oakland clustered its bases well while building a 7-0 lead. Spent the rest of the afternoon “running out the clock.” A’s are 9-4 since the All-Star break, and a stunning 30-10 the last 40 games. That’s how you chase down somebody from behind! Truly amazing offensive season for Oakland, while playing home games in a pitchers’ park.
Toronto falls to 48-59, and will only matter down the stretch if it can play spoiler against the Red Sox or Yankees as the AL East works itself out.
Houston (-110) 8, Seattle 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Houston 32, Seattle 14
Starting Pitchers: Keuchel 7 IP, 3 ER, LeBlanc 4.1 IP, 7 ER
Bullpen: Houston 2 IP, 0 ER, Seattle 4.2 IP, 1 ER
This was much more of a “real” blowout. Houston pounded LeBlanc, launched four home runs through the afternoon. There had been concern about Houston’s offense given recent injuries to Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and George Springer. Wins by scores of 5-2 and 8-3 in this series have put a rest to those for the time being.
Houston moves to 69-41, still five games clear of the Mariners and A’s at the top of the AL West. It’s hard to imagine Oakland continuing to play .750 ball for another month to chase another team down. It was hard to imagine that happening the first time.
Also Wednesday in the American League…
*Baltimore beat the New York Yankees 7-5. It was 7-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Yanks continue to disappoint vs. the dregs of the league. They were -280 on the money line in this one. Does Baltimore get up for anyone else?! Yanks are 6-5 since the All-Star Break, facing Baltimore, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and the NY Mets. Sonny Gray had another horrible home start. His ERA in the Bronx this season is 7.71 in 11 starts. Yanks are 5.5 games behind Boston in the AL East entering a huge series that begins Thursday night at Fenway Park.
*Cleveland shut out Minnesota 2-0. That pushes Cleveland’s lead to 10 games in the lousy AL Central.
NL Wednesday: Cole Hamels solid in Cubs debut; Cards bounce back against Rockies
Two early finishers in the senior circuit matching teams with winning records. Let’s take them in Nevada rotation order…
Chicago Cubs (-130) 9, Pittsburgh 2
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 30, Pittsburgh 11
Starting Pitchers: Hamels 5 IP, 0 ER, Kingham 1 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: Chicago 4 IP, 1 ER, Pittsburgh 8 IP, 5 ER
Cubs were ahead 6-1 by the top of the second inning. Cole Hamels allowed an unearned run in five innings of work in his Cubs debut. Nine strikeouts with two walks (meaning, 60% of his outs came via the K). Pirates only managed seven singles and four walks off five Chicago pitchers. Considering how poorly Tyler Chatwood had been pitching for the Cubs, they’ll gladly take five relatively quiet innings from Hamels every time out. He’s capable of more.
Chicago moves to 62-45 with the win. Cubs bettors are now slightly in the black for the season. Pirates now 14-4 their last 18 with the loss, 56-53 in 2018.
St. Louis (-145) 6, Colorado 3
Total Bases Plus Walks: Colorado 16, St. Louis 19
Starting Pitchers: Freeland 5.1 IP, 3 ER, Weaver 2.2 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: Colorado 2.2 IP, 3 ER, St. Louis 6.2 IP, 1 ER
Tough to keep hot streaks going on the road. Colorado is still 20-7 its last 27 games, 12-4 since the All-Star break with this result. Strong night for the St. Louis bullpen, who kept Luke Weaver from suffering a loss. Kyle Freeland of Colorado threw 113 pitches in those 5.1 innings, despite netting only five strikeouts.
St. Louis is 55-53, not able yet to get any clarity on second-half-direction. Colorado falls to 58-49…still in the thick of the NL West and Wildcard races.
NFL Preseason: It’s the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Chicago Bears in the Hall of Fame Game Thursday on NBC
This was going to be today’s lead story!
Opening Line: Baltimore -1, total of 33
Current Line: Baltimore -2.5, total of 34
Baltimore was getting both sharp and public support at -2 or below. There has still been some interest offshore on the Ravens -2.5. Many shops are testing and holding -115 vigorish. In Vegas, still mostly the standard 11/10 at this price.
Given that three is still a key number in preseason action (though many teams try to avoid overtime, which erases 3-point OT wins from the scatter-gram of possibilities), you would expect sharp action to hit the Bears hard if plus 3 comes into play. This is a neutral field game, which would make Baltimore -3 a fairly tall preseason number in context.
Clear interest on the Over at 33 or 33.5. Not enough to move past 34, which is a relatively key number in low scoring preseason action (20-14, 24-10, 27-7). Sharps would likely jump on Under 34.5.
What’s driving those initial line moves? Baltimore has a strong preseason history under coach John Harbaugh. Many have commented that the Ravens went 4-0 straight up and ATS last season.
Baltimore 2017 Preseason
Baltimore (plus 2) beat Washington 23-3
Baltimore (plus 2.5) won at Miami 31-7
Baltimore (-3.5) beat Buffalo 13-9
Baltimore (plus 3) won at New Orleans 14-13
While that was impressive…and a big money maker for backers…it’s worth noting that the Ravens only scored 13 and 14 in their last two games. It was a defense-driven sweep rather than all-out domination for a month.
Interest so far on Thursday’s Over may be keyed to the fact that new Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City the past two seasons. Sharps often shade their action to Overs for new offensive-minded head coaches, Unders for new defensive-minded head coaches.
Best of luck with your picks amidst those conflicting indicators. We’ll run the box score stats for you Friday.
WNBA: Liberty now 6-14 ATS their last 20; Taurasi scores 37 to upset Aces
Disappointing rookie season for Kia Nurse of the New York Liberty. Preseason marketing was hoping the former UConn star would make a splash in the Big Apple. Instead, New York’s collapse has been one of the biggest stories of the WNBA season.
Connecticut (-12) 92, New York 77
2-point Pct: New York 46%, Connecticut 50%
3-pointers: New York 8/20, Connecticut 11/26
Free Throws: New York 11/14, Connecticut 9/14
Rebounds: New York 33, Connecticut 38
Turnovers: New York 15, Connecticut 10
Defense has been a problem all season for New York. More than 90 points allowed here with only 10 forced turnovers. Chemistry has been off from the get-go according to the indicator stats that reflect intensity. Liberty falls to 7-19 on the season. Connecticut is 15-12, 1.5 games behind first-place Atlanta in the East.
Phoenix (plus 4) 104, Las Vegas 93
2-point Pct: Phoenix 57%, Las Vegas 42%
3-pointers: Phoenix 11/26, Las Vegas 2/11
Free Throws: Phoenix 29/35, Las Vegas 25/31
Rebounds: Phoenix 40, Las Vegas 41
Turnovers: Phoenix 14, Las Vegas 8
So much for fatigue! Tough back-to-back spot for Phoenix, after losing at home to Seattle Tuesday. Betting markets made a BIG adjustment for that, as the Las Vegas Aces were laying more than the standard value for home court advantage. Phoenix covered by 15.
Diana Taurasi scored 37 points in 34 minutes with just 17 shots from the floor. The WNBA legend was 17 of 18 from the free throw line. Brittany Griner added 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Aj’a Wilson scored 29 points for the hosts. But Kayla McBride was held to 5 of 17 shooting
Phoenix was clearly overly-docked in Wednesday’s point spread for the back-to-back spot. So, we’ll keep them where they were in our estimated “market” power ratings.
83: Los Angeles, Dallas
82: Atlanta, Connecticut
78: Las Vegas
73: New York
Big game on the Thursday card when Minnesota visits Los Angeles.
VSiN News: Gaughan Racing back Thursday with NASCAR show “Gone Racin’” and special guest Paul Menard
Thanks to all of you who joined us last week for the debut of “Gone Racin’” on VSiN. The NASCAR-focused show will air every Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. here in Las Vegas.
Back are Ron Flatter, Brendan Gaughan, Jeff Motley and Jeff Cogliandro. This week’s special guest is driver Paul Menard. Be there Thursday as our count down to the South Point 400 continues!
VSiN Business Center
*Click here to subscribe to Point Spread Weekly for just $249.99. That gets you a full calendar year of this must-have digital publication. Subscribers automatically get our 2018 college and pro football previews as well.
*If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for the FREE subscription to VSiN City, please click here to do so. Subscribers also get links to handy sports betting sheets from the South Point that are very helpful during the baseball grind.
*Click here to follow us on twitter for programming snippets and news bulletins. Click here to download our app. Click here to purchase a VSiN T-shirt, baseball cap, or coffee cup for yourself or your favorite sports bettor. If you have any comments or questions about anything in the VSiN universe, drop us a note or leave us a comment on the Facebook widget below.