Tom Brady’s jammed hand complicates an already awkward point spread in Sundays AFC Championship game. Plus, #7 Wichita State sees its 27-game home winning streak end at the hands of dangerous spoiler SMU. Another busy day in VSiN City!
NFL Injury News: Patriots drop to -8.5 over Jags after Tom Brady suffers “jammed hand” at practice
How much is a jammed throwing hand on one of the greatest quarterbacks who ever lived worth in the betting markets? Who knows? A jammed throwing hand on Wednesday night might be fully healed by Sunday. Or, it might be worse than a jam, which could greatly impact the game and betting strategies.
Once the news broke, sports books immediately dropped New England from -9 down to -8.5. Any sharp Jacksonville money that had been biding its time thought it smart to jump in. It’s very unlikely that New England -9.5 or -10 would come into play between now and kickoff unless Brady is seen in new practice footage throwing at 100% effectiveness. Dog lovers took what they could get!
What’s interesting for market watchers is that -8.5 is now in the “basic strategy” teaser window for six-point moves. You regulars know that’s a betting approach which attacks favorites from -7.5 to -8.5, bringing the line down to from -1.5 to -2.5 (and vice versa with short dogs). New England can NOW be moved under the key number of three in teasers. But…should bettors risk that if Brady’s injury is more serious than first reported, meaning worth a lot more than half-a-point?
In other words, should you “buy” six points right now to get New England -2.5 paired with another team, when the line might drop all the way to Patriots -4ish if Brady can’t play? What’s typically a very smart percentage play becomes a dumb one if Brady’s injury affects his performance (or removes him from the lineup) against an elite opposing defense.
For now, it’s a wait and see game for both sides of the counter.
*If developments suggest Brady won’t be able to throw at 100%, more Jacksonville money will come in and the line will fall. New England would obviously find it difficult to blow out Jacksonville in that scenario, and this is a tall spread.
*If this is largely a false alarm, sharps will jump in on New England -2.5 in teasers the second the siren stops wailing. Sports books will quickly move back to -9.
*If the Patriots play coy with updates, the market may come to a relative halt in this game. The public isn’t going to lay this many points unless Brady is good to go. Sharp money will probably take some small “just in case” positions either way, with conservative bets on New England -2.5 in teasers (which will look great if Brady’s going to be fine), and Jacksonville plus 8.5 (which will look great if he isn’t). The final victory margin could still land comfortably inside that window of opportunity no matter how things eventually play out.
Be sure you monitor VSiN programming from now until kickoff for the very latest from Las Vegas. In situations like this, “the money” often breaks big news before beat reporters can tweet a thing.
NBA: Updated estimate of “market” Power Ratings
Before we get to a slew of college basketball recaps and previews, let’s quickly provide our weekly Thursday estimate of NBA “market” Power Ratings. As always, a quick disclaimer that NBA estimates are looser than in the NFL because of injuries to starters or unique schedule dynamics. We use a standard home court value of three points, then build a scale based on recent point spreads. Assume these are “full strength” representations, then adjust on the fly based on daily personnel developments.
88: Golden State
83: Cleveland, Toronto, Boston, Oklahoma City
82: Milwaukee, San Antonio Minnesota
81: Washington, LA Clippers
80: Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Denver, Portland
79: Indiana, Charlotte
78: Detroit, Dallas, Utah,
76: New York, Memphis
75: Chicago, Orlando, LA Lakers
73: Phoenix, Atlanta
American Athletic Conference Basketball: SMU shocks #7 Wichita State to end 27-game home winning streak
Entering the night, Wichita State was on a 27-game home winning streak, with a 67-1 record its last 68. That’s what visiting SMU was up against. Look at what SMU had to shoot to get this win!
SMU (plus 9.5) 83, #7 Wichita State 78
Two-point Pct: SMU 76%, Wichita State 73%
Three Pointers: SMU 11/22, Wichita State 11/30
Free Throws: SMU 12/16, Wichita State 7/12
Rebounds: SMU 20, Wichita State 27
Turnovers: SMU 8, Wichita State 9
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: SMU 38-42-33, Wichita State 11-12-10
That’s 76% on two’s for the Mustangs…and 50% on treys, which is the equivalent of 75% on two-pointers. All that with just eight turnovers at a dangerous road site. It’s tempting to call that an amazing performance. But, the boxscore suggests almost a gentlemen’s agreement from both sides to NOT guard inside the arc. Neither team wanted to get into foul trouble apparently (which doesn’t look like much of an issue given the low free throw counts). SMU was 19 of 25 inside the arc, while Wichita State was 19 of 26. Were they running layup drills?
We’ll have to monitor future boxscores to learn more about what’s going on with the approaches of these teams. It’s become more common in recent seasons for college teams to give up cheap points as the lesser of two evils. If fouling to “defend the rim” just puts your best players on the bench and your worst on the floor in the second half, discretion is the better part of valor.
SMU rises to 13-6 with the win, 6-7-1 against the spread. You can see that the computer ratings had the Mustangs comfortably as a Dance caliber team even before this result. Wichita State falls to 15-3 (7-9 ATS), but really hasn’t looked like the juggernaut many expected with the slight move upward to the American Athletic Conference from the Missouri Valley. The Shockers are just 3-6 ATS their last nine games, with two of the covers coming against hopelessly outmatched East Carolina and South Florida. The most anticipated games of the AAC schedule will be when Wichita State faces Cincinnati. Those dates are February 18 at Cincinnati, and March 4 at Wichita.
American Athletic estimated “market” Power Ratings: Wichita State 84, Cincinnati 81, Houston 77, SMU 77, Temple 71, Central Florida 71, Connecticut 70, Memphis 69, Tulsa 66, Tulane 67, East Carolina 57, South Florida 57.
In other AAC action Wednesday: Temple (-8) only beat Tulsa 59-58, East Carolina (-2.5) routed South Florida 90-52, Tulane (plus 6.5) upset Houston 81-72.
Big 12 Basketball: Another upset, as #8 Texas Tech is toppled by Texas
Though many “bracketology” buffs weren’t listing Texas as Dance-bound in recent days, the most respected computer assessments agreed they were Dance caliber with rankings in the 30’s or low 40’s (very similar to SMU in the game above). Strong showing tonight against a Texas Tech team that’s starting to show it may have hit its ceiling.
Texas (plus 3.5) 67, #8 Texas Tech (-3.5) 58
Two-point Pct: Texas Tech 50%, Texas 57%
Three Pointers: Texas Tech 7/27, Texas 6/15
Free Throws: Texas Tech 9/15, Texas 15/21
Rebounds: Texas Tech 31, Texas 33
Turnovers: Texas Tech 10, Texas 15
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Texas Tech 5-11-9, Texas 42-32-39
Not uncommon for upsets to be keyed by lousy three-point shooting from the favorite. That was definitely a factor here. Mo Bamba was a force for Texas, with 15 points (including 6 of 8 inside the arc), 11 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots in a low-tempo game. The Horns are playing with a mission now, and have the talent to at least play spoiler in this conference and in March.
Texas Tech? The great thing about starting five seniors is that your team is very experienced to start the season. The bad thing is that there’s little hope for in-season growth because everyone’s already become who they’re going to be. Something to keep an eye on after a 10-point loss at Oklahoma, a 1-point win in Lubbock over West Virginia (where the Red Raiders trailed much of the way), and now this 9-point loss in Austin.
Even if Tech won’t benefit any more from its head start, the Red Raiders are still 15-3 after this loss. Texas rises to 12-6, with plenty of time to impress pollsters or the selection committee if it can get more wins in this tough conference.
Big 12 estimated “market” Power Ratings: West Virginia 87 at home…84 on the road, Kansas 86 at home…85 on the road, Texas Tech 85 at home…84 on the road, Oklahoma 83, TCU 80, Baylor 79, Texas 78, Kansas State 78, Oklahoma State 77, Iowa State 74.
In other Big 12 action Wednesday: TCU (-9.5) beat Iowa State 96-73.
SEC Basketball: #21 Tennessee falls at Missouri
It’s not an “upset” when the favored team wins. Unranked Missouri was actually the short favorite in Columbia over the visiting Volunteers of Tennessee. (That theme will come up again in a moment).
Missouri (-2) 59, #21 Tennessee 55
Two-point Pct: Tennessee 48%, Missouri 53%
Three Pointers: Tennessee 5/21, Missouri 4/18
Free Throws: Tennessee 8/13, Missouri 15/17
Rebounds: Tennessee 29, Missouri 33
Turnovers: Tennessee 9, Missouri 12
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Tennessee 13-30-18, Missouri 40-40-43
Very slow game with poor long-range shooting from both teams. Free throw accuracy loomed large, as Missouri was plus 8 in makes on only four additional tries. Note that Missouri is another Dance-caliber team in the eyes of the computers that earned an important win tonight. Odd that Pomeroy had Tennessee in the Sweet 16, while Sagarin barely has them in the top 32.
Missouri is now 13-5 for the season, 10-7 ATS. A 3-2 record in the SEC gives them a shot to make a run at the top of the heap. Tennessee is 12-5 straight up, 3-3 in the SEC, and 9-6 ATS after this loss.
SEC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Florida 82, Kentucky 81, Auburn 81, Texas A&M 80, Tennessee 79 at home…78 on the road, Arkansas 78, Missouri 77, Alabama 77, LSU 77, South Carolina 77, Mississippi State 76, Georgia 75, Vanderbilt 74, Ole Miss 73.
In other SEC action Wednesday: Florida (-6) beat Arkansas 88-73, Alabama (plus 5) upset #17 Auburn 76-71 (even without Collin Sexton, who was a late scratch).
Big East Basketball: #19 Seton Hall clobbered at Creighton (but it wasn’t an upset!)
Another ranked dog fell to an unranked favorite. Though, here, the rankings have to be called into question because the winner was unanimously superior heading in based on respected computer rankings.
Creighton (-4) 80, #19 Seton Hall 63
Two-point Pct: Seton Hall 46%, Creighton 65%
Three Pointers: Seton Hall 8/28, Creighton 11/29
Free Throws: Seton Hall 7/11, Creighton 7/8
Rebounds: Seton Hall 37, Creighton 35
Turnovers: Seton Hall 17, Creighton 14
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Seton Hall 27-24-29, Creighton 22-17-14
You can see that Creighton got the nod from all three computer precincts before tip-off, then ran away and hid thanks to hot shooting and stellar defense. Both teams are now 15-4 on the season. Creighton has been better vs. the number, with an 11-7 mark. Seton Hall is 9-10 ATS. Both teams now have two losses in Big East play.
Big East estimated “market” Power Ratings: Villanova 86, Xavier 81, Creighton 80, Seton Hall 79, Butler 78, Marquette 75, Providence 73, St. John’s 72, Georgetown 70, DePaul 68.
In other Big East action Wednesday: Villanova (-12.5) won at Georgetown 88-56, and Xavier (-11.5) beat St. John’s 88-82
Big Ten Basketball: #22 Ohio State continues hot run with win at Northwestern
Six straight wins and five straight covers for the suddenly red-hot Ohio State Buckeyes. And that includes a blowout of then #1 Michigan State. Northwestern is racing in the other direction, with four failures straight up and ATS in its last five games. The only win exploited the Minnesota meltdown.
#22 Ohio State (-3.5) 71, Northwestern 65
Two-point Pct: Ohio State 53%, Northwestern 58%
Three Pointers: Ohio State 6/17, Northwestern 8/27
Free Throws: Ohio State 13/17, Northwestern 5/10
Rebounds: Ohio State 38, Northwestern 25
Turnovers: Ohio State 12, Northwestern 10
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Ohio State 14-22-19, Northwestern 80-57-61
Northwestern was 18 of 31 on deuces, so the Wildcats could score if they could get a good look inside. Clearly the Wildcats launched too many bombs because they couldn’t. And, that poor long-range performance was a killer because OSU owned the boards. Too many missed treys were virtual turnovers. Will be interesting to see if Ohio State (still undefeated in Big 10 play) can make a run at Purdue. Northwestern is in danger of falling out of NIT consideration given its plummeting computer rankings.
Buckeyes are now 16-4 straight up, 10-8 ATS. Northwestern falls to 11-9 (in a weak conference), just 6-11 ATS.
Big Ten estimated “market” Power Ratings: Purdue 86, Michigan State 86, Ohio State 81, Michigan 80, Penn State 77, Maryland 76, Wisconsin 75, Indiana 75, Iowa 74, Northwestern 74, Nebraska 73, Illinois 71, Minnesota 71, Rutgers 70.
In other Big Ten action Wednesday: Rutgers (plus 1) beat Iowa 80-64.
A couple of important mid-major matchups on the Thursday night card. Greg Peterson takes a look at the key stat indicators.
College Basketball: “Running the Floor” with Greg Peterson
Murray State at Belmont (7:00 p.m. ET on ESPNU)
Early Line: Team by Belmont -1.5
Offensive Efficiency: Murray State #21, Belmont #67
Defensive Efficiency: Murray State #71, Belmont #141
Rebound Rate: Murray State #29, Belmont #94
Percent of Shots are 3s: Murray State #147, Belmont #2
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Murray State #87, Belmont #41
Pace: Murray State #291, Belmont #250
If you had to write in a textbook the stereotype of today's modern NBA and college basketball teams, it would be Belmont. Though the Bruins play a slow style of basketball, nearly every shot this team takes is either a layup or a 3. Nearly 56 percent of Belmont's shots are 3s, as it is one of four teams in the country that has over half its shots attempted as 3s.
Belmont is extremely efficient on the shots it takes inside the arc, ranking second in the nation in 2-point shooting percentage. With Murray State being 45th in this category, it gives Belmont the overall advantage on offense in regards to true shooting.
Murray State plays even more methodically than Belmont and does it with a balance of 3-point shooting and low post play. The team's mascot is the Racers, which is ironic as Murray State is a team that plays at a very slow pace and makes several passes in an effort to get the cleanest shot possible.
Murray State's biggest advantage in this one is that the Racers are the more efficient team overall, where Belmont tends to live and die by the outside shot given how many the team takes. The Racers are also the better team on the glass, which both gives them more second-chance opportunities, and limits its foes from getting the same luxury.
Belmont has a tendency to turn the ball over, with the Bruins ranking 228th in turnovers per possession. Murray State is not known to turn teams over, as it is 227th in regards to forced turnovers per possession, which could allow Belmont to be more efficient on offense than normal.
Saint Mary’s at #13 Gonzaga (9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN)
Early Line: Team by Gonzaga -7.5
Offensive Efficiency: Saint Mary’s #1, Gonzaga #4
Defensive Efficiency: Saint Mary’s #120, Gonzaga #25
Rebound Rate: Saint Mary’s #15, Gonzaga #5
Percent of Shots are 3s: Saint Mary's #219, Gonzaga #89
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Saint Mary's #15, Gonzaga #122
Pace: Saint Mary’s #346, Gonzaga #56
Saint Mary's and Gonzaga are two teams that excel on offense, but get the job done in very different ways. Saint Mary's is one of the slowest teams in the country. Gonzaga is willing to run and is willing to take a boat load of 3-point shots in an effort to get off to build a huge lead on its opponents. Saint Mary's is a team that takes more of a death by 1,000 cuts approach, playing very methodical and not really straying from its slow and steady approach.
The Gaels specialize in doing the little things well like blocking out for rebounds and making free throws. Its slow pace typically allows for St. Mary's to be able to be within striking distance in the rare instances in which the team falls behind.
This game will be predicated on which team can set the pace early. A slower game will play into the hands of Saint Mary's while a more up-tempo game is what Gonzaga is looking for. Saint Mary's does not give up tons of points per game, but that is due to the slow pace it plays at as its defense in general is far from spectacular. The Gaels are 120th nationally in defensive efficiency, which could be costly against a high-octane Gonzaga offense.
It is also worth noting that Gonzaga leads the country in 2-point shooting percentage, while Saint Mary's is not far behind at number seven. Whichever team can shoot better within the arc will have a great chance to both win and cover.
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That’s it for Thursday. Back Friday with expanded Championship Sunday NFL stat previews featuring Jacksonville/New England and Minnesota/Philadelphia.