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QB carousel starts with Alex Smith to Redskins, Cousins to anywhere but DC

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

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Alex Smith, a Pro Bowl QB, heads to Washington to replace Kirk Cousins.
© USA Today Sports Images

For one night, Super Bowl 52 took a back seat in the sports caravan…as the Kansas City Chiefs traded quarterback Alex Smith to Washington…Kevin Love suffered a broken hand and will miss 6-8 weeks for the Cleveland Cavaliers…and suddenly reeling North Carolina lost its third straight in the ACC. The market perspective on the day’s biggest stories is up next in VSiN City.

NFL: Alex Smith traded from Kansas City to Washington in out-of-the-blue shocker
Not much happened in the Super Bowl betting marketplace anyway on Tuesday. Everyone’s still waiting for news about Rob Gronkowski. “Bettor X” took a day away from the headlines. Then, in the evening, an NFL lightning bolt!

Mr. Smith is heading to Washington. As the Kansas City Star explains in this article, the Chiefs saved $17 million by jettisoning Alex Smith and turning the offense over to promising second-year gunslinger Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs can now use that extra money to shore up weaknesses elsewhere. Washington seemingly had enough of Kirk Cousins, who will likely latch on with a league mediocrity (or worse) that needs an upgrade at the quarterback position from “not ready” to “adequate with upside.” 

2017 Stats
Smith: 8.0 yards-per-attempt, 26 TD’s, 5 INT’s, passer rating of 104.7
Cousins: 7.6 yards-per-attempt, 27 TD’s, 13 INT’s, passer rating of 93.7

Neither is seen as a championship caliber quarterback. Smith has excelled in an offensive system that hides his weaknesses while typically riding his strengths long enough to reach the playoffs and immediately lose. Cousins has more big-play potential, but is also more likely to make a critical mistake at a bad time. 

Futures prices for Kansas City will likely take a hit with the move to a younger quarterback. Matching last season’s 10-6 record is certainly feasible given the talent surrounding Mahomes and the proven success of this offensive system. But, you can’t just ASSUME that off one recreational start in a meaningless season-ender. 

Futures prices for Washington will likely improve from “long shot” to “less of a longshot.” Washington finished 7-9 in the tough NFC, only good enough for the eleventh best record in that conference. 

Cousins will be in demand, because there are plenty of borderline teams that would be thrilled with a passer rating of 93.7 coming from their signal caller instead of what they suffered through this past season. 

Be sure you watch VSiN programming Wednesday morning for the latest market developments. Lifetime Redskins fan Gill Alexander will have a lot to say about this trade on “A Numbers Game!” Here is a taste of what's to come from Gill.

NBA: Kevin Love joins list of major injuries, suffering a broken hand in Cleveland’s 125-114 loss at Detroit
First DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season with a torn Achilles. Then Andre Roberson injured his knee for Oklahoma City. John Wall will miss 6-8 weeks for Washington with a knee injury. Tuesday night, Kevin Love joined the list of doom after suffering a broken hand in Cleveland’s double-digit loss in Motor City. 

The market already has to adjust to the nightly whims of coaching decisions as teams try to guide their stars through the landmines of a demanding season. Now, it’s even tougher as role players step in to try and minimize the damage. And oddsmakers and bettors are also dealing with the complications of Blake Griffin’s trade from the LA Clippers to the Detroit Pistons. Griffin was not in uniform Tuesday, but might be Thursday when Detroit faces Memphis. 

Of note in the Tuesday marketplace:
Oklahoma City (without Roberson) was -3.5 at Washington (without Wall)
Cleveland was -6 at Detroit (without Griffin) before Love was injured
New Orleans (without Cousins) was -9.5 vs. Sacramento
LA Clippers (shorthanded and possibly ready to tank) were plus 3 at home vs. Portland 

Safe early assumptions are that Oklahoma City will still be priced as a playoff team as long as is “big three” of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George are healthy. Cleveland will be priced as a playoff team, but not as a championship-level team given Love’s injury and the team’s poor form over the past several weeks. New Orleans will be priced as a borderline playoff team without Cousins. Detroit will be priced the same way in the weaker East. Washington will probably be priced just below playoff caliber in the East without Wall. The Clippers will be priced as a Western mediocrity as they begin their rebuild. 

We’ll keep monitoring point spreads to provide updates once there’s a larger sample size. 

ACC Basketball: #20 Clemson sticks #19 North Carolina with third straight loss
It’s hard to say for sure if the North Carolina Tar Heels are slumping…or if they’ve just run into some ridiculously hot three-point shooting three games in a row. They allowed 15 of 30 to North Carolina State in an overtime loss this past weekend. We suggested that wasn’t likely to keep happening. It did, exactly!

#20 Clemson (plus 2) 82, #19 North Carolina 78 
Two-point Pct: North Carolina 47%, Clemson 29%
Three Pointers: North Carolina 10/24, Clemson 15/30
Free Throws: North Carolina 12/14, Clemson 19/27
Rebounds: North Carolina 40, Clemson 36
Turnovers: North Carolina 11, Clemson 10
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: North Carolina 13-13-12, Clemson 17-30-19

So, Clemson matched that 15 of 30 mark from long range, in a game that was otherwise dominated by Carolina. The short road favorite won scoring on 1’s and 2’s by a count of 50-33 while also winning the battle of the boards on the road. Time will tell if this is a case of UNC just guarding the arc so POORLY that everyone will make treys against them. For now, the three-game losing streak featured this…

Virginia Tech shot 12 of 30 on treys
NC State shot 15 of 30 on treys
Clemson shot 15 of 30 on treys

That’s 40%, 50%, and 50%, which equates to 60%, 75%, and 75% on two-pointers. Tough to outscore that kind of production. But, it sure looks like an outlier. Something to keep an eye on in future TV games. Is Carolina playing too slack on perimeter defense? 

Clemson surges to 18-4, 7-3 in the ACC. North Carolina falls to 16-7 overall, just 5-5 in league action.

ACC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Duke 87, Virginia 86, North Carolina 83, Louisville 81 at home…79 on the road, Florida State 80, Clemson 79, Virginia Tech 78, Miami 78, Syracuse 78, Notre Dame 75, NC State 75, Wake Forest 74, Georgia Tech 74, Boston College 72, Pittsburgh 64.

North Carolina was pounded by bettors prior to the Clemson game, causing us to drop the Tigers down to 79. Guessing they’ll rise back up next time out. Carolina hasn’t been getting ACC results consistent with an 83 Power Rating. 

Big 12 Basketball: #12 Oklahoma outlasts Baylor 98-96
That’s an NBA score and it wasn’t helped by overtime. Up-and-down basketball (about 80 possessions apiece), which should have taken Baylor WAY out of its comfort zone. Instead, Baylor almost won outright even though Trae Young had a stellar evening for the Sooners. 

#12 Oklahoma (-6) 98, Baylor 96
Two-point Pct: Baylor 44%, Oklahoma 53%
Three Pointers: Baylor 15/29, Oklahoma 12/22
Free Throws: Baylor 11/16, Oklahoma 26/32
Rebounds: Baylor 33, Oklahoma 35
Turnovers: Baylor 8, Oklahoma 13
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Baylor 51-42-45, Oklahoma 22-21-27

In a way, it’s more bad news for the Sooners. They continue to lose respect in the computers and marketplace as the season progresses. Here, Trae Young was a true star…with 44 points on just 20 shots from the floor, 6 of 11 on treys, and only six turnovers. THIS was the best of Trae Young. Yet, the team still barely won at home over a team that’s roughly #45 in the country according to the computer composite. OU’s defense was again abysmal. Only eight forced turnovers in racehorse basketball. Almost 100 points allowed to an offense not known of its offensive efficiency. Oklahoma is now 16-5 overall, 6-3 in the Big 12 (just 1-5 ATS its last six). Baylor falls to 12-10 and a hard-luck 2-7 in league play. 

Big 12 estimated “market” Power Ratings: Kansas 86 at home…85 on the road, West Virginia 86 at home…85 on the road, Texas Tech 83 at home…82 on the road, Oklahoma 82, TCU 80, Kansas State 80 at home…79 on the road, Texas 78, Baylor 78, Oklahoma State 76, Iowa State 73.

Also Tuesday in the Big 12: TCU (-1) won easily at Oklahoma State 79-66.

SEC Basketball: #23 Florida falls again, while #11 Auburn reinforces its SEC bona fides
If conference championships were handed out in late January, Auburn would win the SEC by acclimation. After conference fans watched Florida lose by double digits at Georgia, Auburn passed another road test with flying colors. 

Georgia (plus 3.5) 72, #23 Florida 60 
Two-point Pct: Florida 38%, Georgia 45%
Three Pointers: Florida 9/26, Georgia 8/25
Free Throws: Florida 5/6, Georgia 18/22
Rebounds: Florida 35, Georgia 44
Turnovers: Florida 7, Georgia 8
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Florida 21-16-22, Georgia 69-65-78

Greg Peterson talked in yesterday’s preview (and again on “My Guys in the Desert”) about how shaky Florida’s offense can look if you force it into half-court game. Georgia did that here in one of the slowest affairs of the evening according to possession counts. You can tell that Florida forced up bad shots inside, didn’t earn many trips to the free throw line, and couldn’t drain anywhere near enough treys to make up for those issues. Florida’s not a top 50 team when it plays like this, let alone top 25. 

#11 Auburn (-4.5) 79, Mississippi 70
Two-point Pct: Auburn 44%, Ole Miss 50%
Three Pointers: Auburn 9/28, Ole Miss 5/21
Free Throws: Auburn 18/26, Ole Miss 15/20
Rebounds: Auburn 42, Ole Miss 41
Turnovers: Auburn 11, Ole Miss 17
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Auburn 9-24-14, Ole Miss 76-69-80

Not necessarily a thing of beauty unless you love teams who can earn a lot of trips to the free throw line while also forcing many opposition turnovers. Fundamentally sound here, though not explosive. This was a potential letdown spot after a road win at Missouri. Auburn keeps passing all the tests. Now 20-2 for the season, 8-1 in the SEC. The Tigers are two games clear of both Florida and Kentucky in the standings (Kentucky is lucky not to be three back after surviving an OT win over Vandy). Auburn is 8-1 ATS its last nine games, and 15-5 ATS this season. 

SEC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Auburn 82, Florida 82, Kentucky 81, Tennessee 81 at home…79 on the road, Texas A&M 80 at home…79 on the road, Arkansas 79 at home…78 on the road, Alabama 79, Missouri 77, South Carolina 77, Mississippi State 76, Georgia 75, LSU 73, Ole Miss 75, Vanderbilt 75.

Also Tuesday in the SEC: Kentucky (-9) beat Vanderbilt 83-81 in overtime, and Texas A&M (-5) beat Arkansas 80-66.

Big East and Atlantic 10 Basketball: #6 Xavier and #23 Rhode Island survive road nail biters
Two more quickies before we get to a couple of Wednesday previews from Greg Peterson.

#6 Xavier (-4) 73, St. John’s 68 
Two-point Pct: Xavier 62%, St. John’s 53%
Three Pointers: Xavier 8/26, St. John’s 8/25
Free Throws: Xavier 17/22, St. John’s 10/16
Rebounds: Xavier 36, St. John’s 31
Turnovers: Xavier 16, St. John’s 13
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Xavier 12-9-10, St. John’s 89-83-96

Game was tied with just over a minute to go. Xavier closed well to create a market middle between the opener of -6 and the closer of -4. Early steam on St. John’s proved prescient, but got hosed in the final moments. Considering St. John’s winless record in the Big East and poor computer ratings…a disappointing night for the Musketeers. 

Big East estimated “market” Power Ratings: Villanova 88 at home…87 on the road, Xavier 80, Seton Hall 79, Butler 77, Creighton 77, Marquette 77, Providence 75, St. John’s 73, Georgetown 71, DePaul 69.

#23 Rhode Island (-9.5) 85, UMASS 83 
Two-point Pct: Rhode Island 65%, Massachusetts 48%
Three Pointers: Rhode Island 8/15, Massachusetts 9/16
Free Throws: Rhode Island 17/24, Massachusetts 24/25
Rebounds: Rhode Island 22, Massachusetts 25
Turnovers: Rhode Island 8, Massachusetts 12
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Rhode Island 32-33-30, Massachusetts 199-185-186

Though, Xavier being disappointed about going to the wire with a team around #90 may not compare to doing the same against a team down around #190! At least Rhode Island was up double digits with about 3:30 to go before a late collapse. The Rams are better than this score. But, the computers agree that they shouldn’t be in the AP poll just yet. Wanted to get them a VSiN City appearance as URI is just starting to crack the national consciousness.  

Atlantic 10 estimated “market” Power Ratings: Rhode Island 80, St. Bonaventure 76, Davidson 74, VCU 72, Dayton 72, St. Joseph’s 69, LaSalle 69, Saint Louis 68, Massachusetts 68, Duquesne 68, George Mason 66, George Washington 65, Richmond, Fordham 65.

College Basketball: “Running the Floor” with Greg Peterson

Penn State at Michigan State (6:30 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network)
Opening Line: Michigan State -12.5
Offensive Efficiency: Penn State #89, Michigan State #6
Defensive Efficiency: Penn State #20, Michigan State #7
Rebound Rate: Penn State #59, Michigan State #1
Percent of Shots are 3s: Penn State #303, Michigan State #223
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Penn State #223, Michigan State #76
Pace: Penn State #167, Michigan State #179

Penn State has been dealing with some shuffling in the lineup with senior guard Josh Reaves. He missed four games in January due to academic concerns, but returned for the team's upset road win against Ohio State last week. He was not cleared to play until after the team plane departed and was driven to Columbus by car. The Nittany Lions went 1-3 in his absence.

In the past two games Reaves is averaging 12.5 points while giving Penn State depth that was sorely missed when he was on the sidelines. He had 25 of the team's 30 points off the bench, and his 15 points were huge in Penn State's 60-47 win against Rutgers on Saturday.

Penn State may need to win another low scoring game as both these teams rank in the nation's top 20 in defensive efficiency. Both play at very similarly average paces, though Michigan State has been superior on offense.

Michigan State has better size and length across its roster, which explains why Michigan State has the nation's top rebound rate. Penn State will need to work for clean looks and convert them since second chances could be at a premium.

Both teams are in the bottom half of the country in percent of shots that are 3s, though Penn State relies a bit more on its stable of guards. Michigan State does not get a ton of scoring from its guards aside from Miles Bridges, who is a 6-foot-7 and can play nearly any position on the floor.

On paper, this game is a mismatch. Penn State's best chance of covering is to keep the game low scoring. Michigan State has a clear advantage in the post, but can sometimes be careless with the ball. If the Spartans can keep their turnovers to a minimum and get off to a better start than on Sunday when they played Maryland, Michigan State should get a resounding victory.

Houston at Cincinnati (7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN News)
Opening Line: Cincinnati -11
Offensive Efficiency: Houston #43, Cincinnati #42
Defensive Efficiency: Houston #14, Cincinnati #1
Rebound Rate: Houston #17, Cincinnati #6
Percent of Shots are 3s: Houston #192, Cincinnati #259
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Houston #146, Cincinnati #264
Pace: Houston #195, Cincinnati #258

This is an interesting matchup as Cincinnati and Houston can not be any closer to each other in offensive efficiency and are two of the best defenses in the nation.

Cincinnati has a slight edge in defensive efficiency and rebounding rate. But Houston has a slight edge at the free throw line. Neither burns up the floor in pace.

Cincinnati is currently on a 12-game winning streak and has not allowed more than 63 points in any of those outings. On the flipside, Houston is coming off a huge 73-59 win against Wichita State and is trending towards being an at-large NCAA Tournament team with its 16-4 record.

The Bearcats are built around a tall backcourt with traditional big men that prevent uncontested drives to the basket while Houston is built around a versatile backcourt.

If Houston’s guards can find a way to get to the free throw line, forcing a Cincinnati team that has recently been going seven players deep into foul trouble, it gives Houston a good opportunity to cover. If Cincinnati can prevent this and out-rebound the Cougars, Cincinnati will have the upper hand.

Both play low scoring games. Houston has lost by 10 or more points just once this season, though Cincinnati has still managed to win 11 of 12 on this recent streak by at least 11 points.

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