Market Insights: Handicapping XFL? Follow the lines

February 16, 2020 12:22 AM

Unlike yesterday's 139-game betting bonanza, we have 24 college basketball games from which to choose today. We also have a pair of XFL games for the football diehards.

As we've detailed in previous newsletters, one way to attack the XFL is to follow line movement. Only wiseguys with an edge are attacking XFL and moving lines. The action is also filled with recreational money with very little knowledge about each matchup, setting up for shaded lines that are begging to be exploited. Also keep an eye out for "overreaction week." The public, and many media outlets, are overreacting to only 1 week of game results. If you played well, they'll want to bet you. If you played poorly, they'll want to fade you. These biases are baked into the cake and create added room to buck the unpopular opinion and get better numbers. 

Here are the two XFL matchups for today

3 p.m. ET: Dallas Renegades (0-1) at Los Angeles Wildcats (0-1)

Both of these teams lost in Week 1, with Dallas falling to St. Louis 15-9 and Los Angeles getting crushed by Houston 37-17. Over the past 24 hours, sharp money has hammered Dallas, pushing the Renegades from -3.5 to -5. The total has ticked down slightly from 47.5 to 47. Another way to handicap teams in a new league devoid or much data to go off of, bettors can key in on the futures market to see how the teams rank up to each other. The Renegades are 450 to win the championship while the Wildcats are 1000. This means the Renegades are the much better team.

6 p.m. ET: St Louis Battlehawks (1-0) at Houston Roughnecks (1-0)

This is the marquee game of the Sunday slate featuring two undefeated teams. This line opened with Houston listed as a 7-point favorite. Sharp money has laid the points with Houston, which demolished Los Angeles 37-17 last week. This lopsided support pushed Houston up to -7.5. The -7.5 is juiced up to -115, signaling the next move likely up to -8. We've also seen some pro money target the under, dropping the total down from 49 to 48. The Battlehawks are 600 to win the championship and the Roughnecks are 300, the best of any team in the league.

For sports betting analysis and updates, be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher and myself this morning from 9 a.m.-noon ET on The Lombardi Line. We'll be breaking down all the latest moves and sharp betting angles leading up to tipoff.

Until then, let's discuss a trio of Sunday college hoops games receiving sharp action. 

1 p.m. ET: Iowa (17-8, ranked 21st) at Minnesota (12-11)

On paper, this looks like a layup for the Hawkeyes. They have a better record and higher ranking. So why did this line open with Minnesota listed as a 4-point home favorite? The public sees a line that is way too good to be true and is grabbing road dog Iowa. However, despite this lopsided support, the line has moved from Minnesota -4 to -4.5, signaling sharp action on the home team. Some books have even moved to -5. Minnesota has value as a rare fade the trendy dog play in a heavily bet conference game. Big Ten home favorites are 58-14 straight up (81%) and 39-29 ATS (57%). Minnesota also enjoys a massive rest vs tired advantage as the Gophers last played on February 8 while Iowa last played February 13.

4 p.m. ET: San Diego State (25-0, ranked 4th) at Boise State (17-9)

This Mountain West showdown features two teams with impressive records, but only one is undefeated and ranked in the top 5. This line opened with San Diego State listed as a 5.5-point road favorite. More than two-thirds of bets are laying the points with the Aztecs, yet this line has fallen down to 5. This sharp reverse line movement signals pro money buying low on Boise State 5.5 at home. Boise has value as a conference road dog. Since 2005, conference dogs off of a win against top 5 teams are 55% ATS. This is also a revenge spot for Boise State, who lost 83-65 to San Diego State as 11-point dogs in early January. The total opened at 140. Both teams are profitable to the over with San Diego State 14-10 and Boise State 14-11.

4 p.m. ET: Missouri State (12-14) at Indiana State (14-10)

Public bettors are largely ignoring this Mountain Valley matchup, but not the sharps. They could care less if a matchup is popular or not. If the value is there they get down. Indiana State has the slightly better record and opened as a 4-point home favorite. Two thirds of bets are backing the Sycamores in a bounce back spot after dropping two games in a row. However, pros have grabbed Missouri State plus the points, dropping the line to 3.5. Missouri State has value as a road conference dog. These two teams met two weeks ago, and Indiana State won 78-68. 

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