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Mattress Mack's Super Bowl Bet and the Debate over Buying Points

The long wait for Super Bowl 55 is nearly over. We are now just two days away from kickoff. Yesterday, we saw the largest wager placed on the game, with Jim McIngvale risking $3.46 million on the Bucs spread. Mattress Mack, as he is popularly referred to, must know the importance of key numbers as he paid -127 juice to ensure that he got Tampa Bay plus the hook (+ 3.5). 

In a statement, McIngvale explained his decision by saying the following: "Tampa Bay is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and led by the greatest football player of all time in Tom Brady, so I'm betting big on the Bucs who have overcome tough matchups throughout the postseason." 

Mack's decision to pay the extra juice in order to get the hook is important. We all know that 3 is the most important key number in football. So if the Bucs end up losing by 3, which is the most common margin of victory, you want to be able to cash with the extra half point. However, the Bucs + 3.5 is no longer available across the market as we've seen the line fall down to 3. Most books are juicing the Chiefs -3 up to -115 but seem unwilling to actually move to 3.5. So what does this mean? If you like the Bucs you might as well wait and see if it goes to 3.5 between now and kickoff. If it doesn't, you could do what Mack did and buy the extra half point in order to get the hook. 

Buying points is age-old debate among sports bettors. Recreational bettors love buying points because they feel safer and more secure knowing they are getting a better number and, therefore, have a greater shot at covering. However, buying points is typically frowned upon by experienced bettors. If you are constantly buying points, it means you are paying expensive prices that will eat away at your winnings. Buying an extra half point may save you every once in a while, but over the long haul it won't make as big of a difference as you think. One of the only scenarios where buying points can really be "worth it" is around key numbers, like in this case by taking the Bucs up to + 3.5. In this situation, it's also much more palatable due to the current juice price. The Chiefs are -3 (-115) at most books with the Bucs + 3 (-105). So buying an extra half point when you're starting at -105 (or even + 100 at some shops) makes it a little easier. If the Bucs were even + 3 (-110), buying that extra half point could take you to -135 juice or more. At that point, it becomes highly unattractive. If you can buy the extra half point and keep it under -130 (or ideally -120 or less), that's an easier pill to swallow. 

Now it's onto Friday, where we have a loaded betting menu today with 40 plus college basketball games, 9 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated breakdown of Friday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted by noon ET.

In the meantime, let's discuss a few Friday college hoops matchups receiving notable line movement...

7 p.m. ET: Maryland (10-8) at Penn State (6-8)

This Big Ten showdown features two teams trending in opposite directions. The Terps have won two of their last three and just took down a ranked Purdue team 61-60, although they failed to cover as 3-point home favorites. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have lost two of their last three and just got waxed by Wisconsin 72-56, failing to cover as 8.5-point road dogs. This line opened with Penn State listed as a 2-point home favorite. Despite the Terps owning a superior record and playing much better as of late, we've actually seen this line move to Penn State -3. If a line looks fishy, there's usually a reason behind it. Pros seems to be leaning on the Nittany Lions, causing sharp movement in their favorite. The Terps are only 3-4 on the road while the Nittany lions are 5-2 at home. Ken Pom has Penn State winning by three points. If you're afraid of laying the points, Penn State is -160 on the moneyline.

7 p.m. ET: UC Davis (3-5) at CS Northridge (6-7)

The Big West showdown may not garner much attention, but respected money has taken an interest. Both teams have a losing record but UC Davis has lost two straight while CS Northridge is coming off a win over Cal Poly. So why did UC Davis open as a 1.5-point road favorite? Something smells fishy here. We've seen this line move further toward UC Davis, with the Aggies steaming from -1.5 to -2.5. Ken Pom has UC Davis winning by three points. He also has UC Davis as a much higher ranked team (213 in the country vs CS Northridge 300). UC Davis is -145 on the moneyline. 

More Friday Moves

Marshall -3.5 to -4.5 at Old Dominion

Arkansas Little Rock + 3.5 to + 2.5 at Texas State

UTEP + 8.5 to + 7 at UAB

Akron + 2 to + 1.5 at Kent State

Oakland + 1.5 to -1.5 vs Cleveland State

Boise State -4 to -4.5 at Nevada

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