Today we have a juicy Saturday betting menu headlined by four college football bowl games, 6 NBA games and 100-plus college hoops matchups. For extensive Saturday betting analysis be sure to join Michael Lombardi, Patrick Meagher, Mike Palm, Thomas Gable and myself this morning from 10 a.m.-noon on The Lombardi Line. We'll be dissecting all the big matchups, the top lines moves and breaking down late sharp action across all the major spots.
In the meantime, let's discuss where the money is flowing for three of today's Bowl Games...
12 p.m. ET: Kentucky vs NC State
This is the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl and it will be played outdoors at TIAA Bank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kentucky (4-6) enters with a disappointing sub .500 record, finishing 4th in the SEC East. Although the Wildcats did win their final regular season game 41-18 over South Carolina, easily covering as 11.5-point home favorites. On the flip side, NC State (8-3, ranked 23rd) finished 4th in the ACC and ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak, most recently beating Georgia Tech 23-13 and covering as 7-point home favorites. This line opened with Kentucky listed as a 2.5-point favorite. Right off the bat, this opening line speaks volumes. Why is Kentucky favored if they're unranked and have a much worse record? The public is rushing to the window to grab the points with NC State, yet this line has remained frozen at -2.5. This signals some sharp liability on the contrarian favorite Wildcats, with pros fading the trending dog and laying the short spread. We've also seen heavy sharp action hit this under, dropping the total from 52.5 to 49.5.
4 p.m. ET: Oregon vs Iowa State
This is the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and it will be played at State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. Oregon (4-2, ranked 25th) is riding high after upsetting USC 31-24 in the Pac-12 Championship game, winning outright as 3-point road dogs. On the flip side, Iowa State (8-3, ranked 10th) had their five game-winning streak snapped their last time out, losing to Oklahoma 27-21 in the Big 12 Championship game, failing to cover as 5.5-point dogs. These teams are roughly equals on offense (Oregon 33.7 PPG, Iowa State 32.8 PPG). The difference comes on defense, where Oregon is allowing 27.3 PPG and Iowa State is only giving up 21.8 PPG. This game opened with Iowa State listed as a 4-point favorite. The public, along with some early respected money, is all over the Cyclones, which has driven this line up to -4.5 or even -5 at some shops. Oregon has value as a contrarian dog with an inflated line in a heavily bet game. Pros and Joes seem to both be leaning on this over, driving the line up from 57 to 58.
8 p.m. ET: North Carolina vs Texas A&M
This is the Capital One Orange Bowl and it will be played outdoors at Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. North Carolina (8-3, ranked 13th) finished 4th in the ACC. The Tar Heels finished the regular season on a high note, winning two straight and crushing Miami 62-26, easily winning outright as 3-point road dogs. Meanwhile, Texas A&M (8-1, ranked 5th) finished second in the SEC West and just beat Tennessee 34-13, covering as 13.5-point road favorites. The Aggies' only loss this season came in Week 2, losing to Alabama 52-24. This game is a contrast in styles as North Carolina possesses the superior offense (43 PPG vs 32 PPG) while Texas A&M is more stout on defense (21 PPG allowed vs 28 PPG allowed). This line opened with Texas A&M listed as a 6.5-point favorite. The public is rushing to the window to lay the points with the Aggies. Two of North Carolinas' top running backs (Michael Carter, Javonte Williams) and another wide receiver (Dyami Brown) have opted out for this game as well, which has helped drive this number up to -7.5. North Carolina is the top contrarian play of the day, receiving only about one-third bets in a primetime, nationally televised game. When two ranked teams face off in a Bowl Game, the dog has covered roughly 53% of the time over the past decade. We've also seen some respected money hit this under, dropping the total from 69 to 65.5.