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Props start to pop as does another big Super Bowl bet

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

More Super Bowl money mania as the South Point takes a half-million dollar bet on the Eagles’ moneyline. And, now props are starting to pop up across Las Vegas. Details plus college hoops…including a preview of Virginia/Duke and Kentucky/West Virginia to close out the week in VSiN City.

Super Bowl Betting: Jimmy Vaccaro reported a huge bet on the Eagles to win outright just as props started popping up. It’s still just the FIRST WEEK of betting action!
Just after 3 p.m. Las Vegas time, the South Point unveiled team props for Super Bowl 52 on “My Guys in the Desert” with Brent Musburger. Not long after, Jimmy Vaccaro was alerting VSiN viewers and social media about a composite $500,000 bet on the Philadelphia Eagles to beat the New England Patriots outright. Given big bet limits at the South Point, it was a series of four incremental bets at gradually decreasing returns (the bettor always has the option of passing if he believes a line has dropped too far). In sum, that $500,000 risk will pay back $820,000 if the Eagles do win the game. That’s a composite equivalent of plus 164 on the moneyline.

The South Point posted so many team props, we couldn’t possibly run through them all here. You can click here for a closer look. What caught our eye were the quarter by quarter lines. 

First Quarter: New England -0.5 (plus 105), total of 9.5 (Over -130)
Second Quarter: New England -0.5 (-125), total of 14
Third Quarter: New England -0.5 (plus 110), total of 10
Fourth Quarter: New England -0.5 (even), total of 13.5 (Over -125)

Even though New England is currently favored by -4.5 or -5 depending on the store, you can see that each quarter price is only half a point. Some hidden respect for the Eagles in that light. Each quarter is priced almost as a toss-up (though the Eagles would cover any quarter tie by half a point). 

What would you guess the Patriots have scored in their typical Super Bowl first quarter in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era? Hall of Fame coach and quarterback. A tactician known for great preparation and a quarterback known for putting points on the board. New England has played in seven Super Bowls with that tandem (look for a deeper dig into those seven games compiled by VSiN City in the upcoming Super Bowl edition of Point Spread Weekly!). How many first quarter touchdowns, and how many first quarter field goals would you guess the Pats have scored?

Amazingly, the answer to all questions is ZERO!

New England has been shut out in all seven of its first quarters (by St. Louis, Carolina, Philadelphia, the NY Giants twice, Seattle, and Atlanta). 0-0-0-0-0-0-0. The Patriots have only been outscored 15-0 overall because their defense has been shutting down opponents too. You might remember that both the Atlanta and Seattle Super Bowls were scoreless entering the second quarter. 

Composite scoring by quarter in those seven Super Bowls…

First quarter: New England 0, Opponents 15
Second quarter: New England 69, Opponents 42
Third quarter: New England 23, Opponents 26
Fourth quarter: New England 71, Opponents 60

The Patriots won last year’s overtime 6-0 over Atlanta. Such big differences there. Clearly the Pats are conservative out of the gate (while also deferring their option to the second half if they win the coin flip). Big numbers in the two quarters where time is most of the essence.

Plenty more Super Bowl coverage coming up between now and kickoff. Plus, look for more prop talk all day Friday on VSiN after the Westgate “lit up its Christmas tree” with a wall full of team and player props at 7 p.m. Vegas time Thursday evening. 

We close out our week in the newsletter with Thursday night Big Ten recaps and some Saturday hoops previews…

Big Ten Basketball: Purdue plays down to Michigan, Ohio State upset by Penn State
Turned out to be some very exciting basketball played in the Big Ten Thursday night. A bit of a surprise because #3 Purdue and #13 Ohio State were both double-digit favorites on their home floors. 

#3 Purdue (-11) 92, #25 Michigan 88 
Two-point Pct: Michigan 63%, Purdue 67%
Three Pointers: Michigan 13/23, Purdue 11/20
Free Throws: Michigan 5/9, Purdue 19/23
Rebounds: Michigan 25, Purdue 21
Turnovers: Michigan 11, Purdue 10
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Michigan 27-22-23, Purdue 2-2-2

So much to talk about! Let’s start with the lack of defense. You can see that both teams were very soft inside the arc, and apparently were allowing plenty of open looks beyond the arc. That’s a combined 24 of 43 on treys, well over 50%!

It may surprise you to know that this was a very slowly paced game most of the way. Michigan is one of the slowest teams in the nation. Purdue is below average (as Greg Peterson showed us yesterday). Yet both teams finished up around 90 points. A late flourish (20 points in the last 47 seconds!) exacerbated the issue. And, a frantic ending of Michigan trading layups for fouls that put Purdue at the line added some artificial possessions into the mix. Basically, it flew Over the market total at Michigan’s pace for 39 minutes. That late flurry pushed the final counts to 180 combined points Purdue’s pace. 

Ramifications? It’s hard to take Purdue seriously as a national championship threat if its defense is this invisible at home in such a big game. The Boilermakers only committed 11 fouls while basically getting out of the way all night to give Michigan easy buckets. In March, SOMEBODY’S going to shoot this well against Purdue on the night Boilermaker treys aren’t falling. Give them credit for dominating a soft conference. Be careful placing them on a pedestal in six weeks. Purdue won’t get any soft opponents in the Dance after its opener. And, remember how badly exposed the Big Ten was in its challenge with the ACC several weeks ago. Those defensive numbers sure look like a red flag for danger against quality.  

Penn State (plus 10) 82, #13 Ohio State 79 
Two-point Pct: Penn State 50%, Ohio State 60%
Three Pointers: Penn State 11/14, Ohio State 7/15
Free Throws: Penn State 15/20, Ohio State 16/16
Rebounds: Penn State 21, Ohio State 25
Turnovers: Penn State 10, Ohio State 11
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Penn State 67-59-48, Ohio State 11-17-15

Penn State got a big emotional lift when key reserve Josh Reaves was cleared to play after some academic issues. He wasn’t part of that unbelievable 11 of 14 performance of treys (he had one of the three misses), and he only had one assist. But, having fresh starters at the end mattered in a dramatic road finish. (Ask @GUnit_81 questions on twitter, and you get answers!) If you didn’t see the highlights, Ohio State tied the game at 79 with a trey with five seconds to go. Penn State banked in a trey at the buzzer to win.

Does this mean Penn State is about to re-ignite after a lull? Tough call. It’s not like the Nittany Lions can count on 11 of 14 on treys every night! Their low-points won’t be as bad. But, they were outscored on 1’s and 2’s here by a count of 58-49, while also losing the rebound category. They’ll likely play better than those computer projections are suggesting for the time being. 

Two straight non-covers for Ohio State after a long stretch possibly playing over its head. And, another example that an elite Big Ten side may not have enough defense to matter deep into March. 

Blockbuster Preview: #2 Virginia visits #4 Duke Saturday
Though there’s a lot of entertaining basketball to watch on a nightly basis because of national depth, there are few true blockbusters on the remaining schedule. Conferences are so big these days that many powers only face each other once during league play. And, any conference that clusters a lot of strong teams (like the Big 12) will find it hard to keep multiple teams in the top 10 because nobody stays unblemished. 

Right now, here’s what’s left in the ACC, Big Ten, and Big East for top 10’s going head-to-head…

Saturday: #2 Virginia at #4 Duke
February 8: #4 Duke at #10 North Carolina
February 10: #3 Purdue at #6 Michigan State
February 17: #1 Villanova at #8 Xavier
March 3: #10 North Carolina at #4 Duke

Not a lot of true heavyweight clashes to look forward to. The only regular season meeting between Virginia and Duke happens this weekend. We wanted to give that game special preview attention. 

Adjusted Efficiency (via kenpom.com)
Virginia: 113.6 (#42) on offense, 81.6 (#1) on defense
Duke: 126.2 (#2) on offense, 98.2 (#72) on defense 

Efficiency is simply points scored and allowed per 100 possessions. Some analysts prefer to move the decimal point over a couple of places to the left to make it points-per-possession. On offense, Virginia averages 1.136 points per possession, or 113.6 per 100 possessions. Pick your preference. 

“Adjusted” Efficiency as calculated by Ken Pomeroy adjusts for strength of schedule. You’ll see different “raw” rankings at other sites. Greg Peterson posts the raw rankings for us in his previews. For this big game…we’ll go with Pomeroy’s adjusted numbers. Some handicappers prefer the raw data so they can make their own adjustments as needed. 

That’s the #2 offense in the nation hosting the #1 defense. Neither unit has been tested the way they will be Saturday on CBS. Really going to be fun watching how that plays out. 

What about pace? Super slow (Virginia) vs. faster than average (Duke). Again, kenpom adjusts for competition. In this case “adjusted pace” counts tweaks for the pace of opponents in their other games. Virginia grades out at 59.8 possessions for a standard projection, Duke at 72. The national median is 68.5…so you can see that Virginia is MUCH slower than the typical college team. Duke a bit faster. 

You may wonder why we discuss efficiency and pace here in VSiN City. That’s because those stats by themselves give you the material it takes to project a final score. If you can do that…you can compare your projection to the side and Over/Under prices in the betting marketplace to look for potential betting opportunities. 

Simply put…points-per-possession…multiplied by the number of possessions…gives you POINTS

Imagine Duke’s playing a completely generic team that won’t move the Blue Devils off their norms in any way. Duke scores 1.26 points-per-possession…and averages 72 possessions…which gives us 91 points. Duke would be expected to score 91 points vs. that opponent. PPP times possessions gives you a projection for points. 

Saturday vs. Virginia, Duke is facing somebody who’s going to get some stops and probably slow down their attack. What’s a smart number to pencil in for Duke? Will they fall to 1.00 per possession and 68 possessions? That would obviously project to 68 points. Maybe Virginia only pulls Duke down to 1.1 points-per-possession, but slows the game way down to 64 possessions. Multiply those two together, and you get 70.4 points. 

Focusing on these factors takes you much closer to the reality of what’s going to happen on the floor than using trends, angles, or gut instinct. And, that’s true in the NBA as well. Though, pace counts are much higher in the pros because there are eight additional minutes of play and less time on each shot clock. 

We asked Greg for his thoughts on Virginia/Duke. We’ll run those here in parenthesis…then sprint over to marquee matchups in the Big 12/SEC Challenge as Greg closes out the session with more Saturday previews. He projects that Duke will be a 4.5-point favorite.

“This is the ultimate battle of opposites. Virginia has held 14 of its 20 opponents to a season low in points. The Cavaliers have not allowed a team to score 70 points, while Duke has scored 78 or more points in every game. 

Duke has a good combination of 3-point shooters and solid forwards that can grab rebounds for second opportunities. The Blue Devils' biggest advantage is their size, with big men Wendell Carter and Marvin Bagley III being two of the best rebounders in the nation. Duke as a whole is fourth in the nation in rebounding rate, which is one of Virginia's biggest weaknesses.

If the game is close late, the free throw shooting edge goes to Virginia. The Cavaliers are 23rd nationally, while Duke is just #234 due to playing such a forward-driven lineup.

This game could come down to 3-point shots, something neither team is emphasizing this season. Virginia uses the full shot clock in an effort to get a good look close to the basket while Duke gets out in transition and uses its athleticism to get good looks.”

Now, Greg takes us home with the two most-talked about matchups in this weekend’s Big 12/SEC challenge…

College Basketball: “Running the Floor” with Greg Peterson

Oklahoma At Alabama (2:15 p.m. ET on ESPN)
Greg's Projected Line: Oklahoma -1.5
Offensive Efficiency: Oklahoma #21, Alabama #163
Defensive Efficiency: Oklahoma #162, Alabama #55
Rebound Rate: Oklahoma #115, Alabama #135
Percent of Shots are 3s: Oklahoma #79, Alabama #258
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Oklahoma #72, Alabama #247
Pace: Oklahoma #3, Alabama #126

This is a battle of the top two freshman point guards in the country with Trae Young suiting up for Oklahoma and Collin Sexton going for Alabama. This will put one of the worst teams in defensive efficiency in Oklahoma against one of the least efficient power five offenses, Alabama.

A big reason for Alabama's lack of offensive production is its free throw shooting, which ranks in the bottom 30 percent nationally. Oklahoma's defensive issues are the result of a trade off. Oklahoma plays at a breakneck speed and is willing to sacrifice some easy baskets if it means the game will turn into a track meet.

Alabama's best chance at winning and covering this game will be forcing Oklahoma into turnovers. Young has committed 34 turnovers in his last four games, with Oklahoma going 2-2 in that stretch.

Alabama is unique in that the Tide are 9-2 straight up at home, but have often looked flat in front of their home crowd. Alabama lost at home earlier this year to UCF and had one-point squeakers over UT Arlington and Louisiana Tech.

Oklahoma has been able to speed up opponents all season while Alabama has slowed things down a bit since SEC play began. With both teams being below average rebounders by power five standards, controlling pace could determine who wins and covers.

Kentucky at West Virginia (7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN)
Greg's Projected Line: West Virginia -7
Offensive Efficiency: Kentucky #91, West Virginia #52
Defensive Efficiency: Kentucky #52, West Virginia #7
Rebound Rate: Kentucky #37, West Virginia #51
Percent of Shots are 3s: Kentucky #347, West Virginia #97
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Kentucky #262, West Virginia #50
Pace: Kentucky #132, West Virginia #58

Kentucky will need to be prepared to face the most intense press it has ever seen. West Virginia has one of the most impressive efficiency defenses in the country because the Mountaineers force so many turnovers.

Kentucky might be better equipped to take on the press than most teams. The Wildcats have played at a variety of different tempos this year, with overall pace of play being a hair faster than the national average.

Kentucky is not a team that takes many 3-point shots, something that will likely have to change in order to cover Saturday. West Virginia’s defense is designed to get easy turnovers, but if that fails, the Mountaineers have players back to prevent easy layups. That can lead to open looks from the perimeter.

Kentucky has a small rebounding advantage and will need to get some long rebounds as West Virginia ranks in the nation’s top 100 in percent of shots that are 3s. West Virginia is very inconsistent with its long-range shooting, which makes not allowing second chance opportunities important. 

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Have a great weekend! See you Monday to recap Virginia/Duke, and to set up the countdown to Super Bowl 52…with sports betting coverage you can only get at VSiN.

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