It is a remarkably busy time of the year with all the sports going on. My advice to people is to always try to bet games early in the week in hopes of getting the best lines, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible. Game day becomes the only option at that point in time.
Here is the process that I go through if I’m not looking at a game until the day it is going to be played.
1. Look at the line movement – Where did the line open and where has it gone? This line opened primarily Toledo -9 or -9.5 and got bet up to -10.5. The total opened mostly 51.5 and got bet down to 49.5, which is an indication of a sharp position on the under, given that it’s MACtion and the bet came very early on.
It isn’t enough to look at where the line started and where the line ended up. You also want to look at the timing of the move(s) to try and determine the nature of them. For example, those betting on Sunday and early Monday morning are what I call “numbers guys”. Their line on a game says X and the line is Y and if the difference between X and Y is big enough, they’ll bet it. They’re just looking to grab a good number and accumulate CLV, or closing line value, which means a line better than what the line will be when the game kicks off.
Later on in the process, what I call the “handicapping crowd” comes into the picture. Those groups cover a large swath of the sports betting market. Some are matchup handicappers that know the personnel and study the X’s and O’s. Some are looking for weather advantages. Some are looking for situational spots. Some are trying to figure out if there’s a coaching mismatch. Those people incorporate a wide variety of perspectives.
2. Start my handicap – I like to use a lot of stats in my handicapping. Yards per play (YPP) gained and allowed, red zone TD% (RZ TD%) for and against, third-down success rate for and against, turnover margin and sacks are all stats that I like to key in on, among others.
YPP gained – Toledo: 6.12 (45th); Bowling Green: 5.30 (96th)
YPP allowed – Toledo: 4.92 (22nd); BG: 5.01 (30th)
RZ TD% for – Toledo: 51.72% (106th); BG: 55.56% (89th)
RZ TD% against – Toledo: 41.38% (6th); BG: 69.23% (T-108th)
Third-down for – Toledo: 34.40% (110th); BG: 32.80% (117th)
Third-down against – Toledo: 35.46% (32nd); BG: 44.12% (109th)
TO margin – Toledo: 8; BG -1
Sacks: Toledo: 22; BG 23; Sacks Allowed: Toledo 34; BG 25
Based on those numbers, I start to create my handicap by interpreting the data. I’ll look at conference vs. non-conference splits with those stats. I’ll think about how this game might play out in my head. I’ll consider if the weather will have any bearing on the offensive game-plan. I’ll look up injury information. I’ll accumulate as much info as I can and then go from there.
3. Decide if I have enough to make a bet - Then, I come to the conclusion. Is there enough to like to make a play? Is the line in a place where I still feel like I am getting value? Do I think I have an edge? Should I wait and see if the line goes up or down based on the side or total I like?
In this instance, I lean with Bowling Green plus the points, however, I think I can get a better line closer to kickoff. Every half-point or point of value matters. In a game with a low-scoring expectation, I’ll wait to see if I can get an 11 or an 11.5 on the Falcons.
If it doesn’t happen, then maybe I won’t bet the game. And it’s okay to show that level of discipline. Set a buy point in your mind and if it doesn’t get there, it doesn’t get there.
Find your process, get comfortable with it and bet games where you have a high degree of confidence.