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College Football: Building SEC Power Ratings from “Game of the Year” point spreads
Now that sharps have shaped college football “Game of the Year” openers, we can begin building “market” Power Ratings heading into the new season. That effort starts today in the SEC.
We begin with the SEC because Alabama is currently the market favorite to win the National Championship. Coming up through the rest of this week will be the Big Ten and Pac 12. We’ll pick up again next week with the ACC and Big 12.
Our focus today will be “within” the SEC. So we’re only going to look at early lines for the games that league teams will be playing against each other. In future reports, we’ll use early interconference matchups to help build a bigger overall scale.
First, a review of the “game of the year” lines Monday at the South Point for conference games in the SEC, with some comments sprinkled throughout.
- Tennessee plus 6.5 at Florida
Respected preview publication Athlon has these teams very close to even, with Florida #16 in its national forecast, Tennessee #19. Yet, we see a clear difference in the line. Florida’s about a field goal better on a neutral field. It will become clear today that the early betting marketplace is less enthusiastic about Tennessee than Athlon is.
- Arkansas plus 7 vs. Texas A&M (in Arlington, TX)
- Florida -2 at Kentucky
Some conflicting opinions on Arkansas, both between Athlon and the South Point, and the South Point and itself. Athlon has Arkansas as #29 in the country, and #4 in the SEC West (just ahead of Texas A&M at #37 nationally and #5 in the division). Yet, this neutral site game shows the Hogs as a full touchdown underdog. On the other hand, even though the Aggies are favored by a TD, they have the same futures price to win the national championship as the Razorbacks. Both Texas A&M and Arkansas are 200/1. Let’s watch the Hogs’ September action closely to get a better read on team quality.
Home field means something in Knoxville, so Georgia is clearly seen as superior in the current marketplace. Athlon has Georgia #15, Tennessee #19 in its summer rankings. Similar situation here to what we just saw with Tennessee/Florida. Athlon is high on Tennessee.
- Alabama -10.5 at Texas A&M
- LSU -3 at Florida
Our first glance at how far Alabama is above the SEC field. They’re a double-digit ROAD favorite against the Aggies…and the Aggies were just a TD over Arkansas on a neutral field. Alabama is being priced a bit above the normal threshold for “national championship caliber” with that line. Also on October 7, a lot of respect for LSU in the swamp. The Tigers must rate about 6-7 points better than the Gators on a neutral field if they’re laying that much in Gainesville.
- Auburn plus 5.5 at LSU
- Texas A&M plus 4 at Florida
Auburn is getting a lot of media respect as a potential national spoiler, ranking #9 in Athlon (just ahead of #11 LSU). Looks like Auburn’s a couple of points worse than LSU in market Power Ratings given standard home field for the Tigers in Baton Rouge. That A&M/Florida game gives us a way to connect Alabama to Florida in a possible SEC title tilt. Alabama is about 14 better than the Aggies neutralized, while the Aggies are about 0-1 worse than Florida.
- Tennessee plus 21 at Alabama
More market disrespect for Tennessee. Looks like there’s some “run-away-and-hide” expectation factored in after you make the adjustments for home field advantage. Right now, Alabama would be a double-digit favorite over any SEC East representative on a neutral field. And the market sees that SEC East race as being between Georgia and Florida, excluding Tennessee.
- Georgia -2.5 vs. Florida (in Jacksonville, FL)
- Tennessee pick-em at Kentucky
The annual “cocktail party” is projected to serve as a de facto SEC East championship game. Georgia gets the nod for now in the eyes of the market. Tennessee’s only seen as about a field goal better than Athlon #45 Kentucky given that road price.
- LSU plus 11 at Alabama
- South Carolina plus 14 at Georgia
- Auburn -3 at Texas A&M
By this date we’ll know a lot more about both LSU and Alabama. Maybe the divisional race will be more competitive than the market is currently expecting. Our first look at South Carolina has them well behind the East favorites from Athens.
Thanksgiving Night, November 23
- Ole Miss plus 5.5 at Mississippi State
These are the only GOY spots for these two teams within the SEC. So, we don’t have interconnections with the rest of the conference. Athlon has Ole Miss as worst in the West, with Mississippi State worse than Arkansas and better than A&M. That will eventually work itself out.
- Alabama -4.5 at Auburn
- Texas A&M plus 12 at LSU
- Vanderbilt plus 8.5 at Tennessee
Alabama would be a high single-digit favorite over Auburn on a neutral field. Clearly that road finale is their most dangerous regular season spot after the neutral site opener vs. Florida State. Vanderbilt makes its first appearance for us, well off the contending pace in the East.
Based on early pointspreads, here’s a tentative estimate “market” Power Rating scale for the SEC. Home-field advantage for many of the SEC powers was likely baked in at around -3.5, or -4.
88 or 89: Alabama
81 or 82: LSU
80 or 81: Auburn
75-76: Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mississippi State
73: Kentucky, Ole Miss
67-68: South Carolina, Arkansas
(Missouri didn’t have an SEC GOY listing)
You can see why Arkansas sticks out for further discussion. Athlon is treating them like they belong in the mid 70’s on this scale…ranked higher than Texas A&M and Mississippi State…while the betting market is pricing them as if they only deserve to be in the high 60’s on this scale.
We’ll look at the Big Ten Wednesday.
CFL: Early lines up for Week 2 north of the border
We promised to stay abreast of Canadian Football League developments for those of you who are ready to hit the gridiron NOW. Here’s a look at composite lines from Vegas and offshore for Week 2’s action.
Ottawa at Calgary (-7, total of 58)
British Columbia at Toronto (-1, total of 55)
Montreal at Edmonton (-8.5, total of 51.5)
Winnipeg (-1, total of 51.5) at Saskatchewan
Toronto received early attention from bettors, as the first numbers up were in the range of BC -1 or pick-em. Sharps were impressed with the Argo’s debut under Marc Trestman. Note that Hamilton is idle this week. Winnipeg was off last week, but is still a slight road favorite over Saskatchewan.
We’ll give the lines a couple more days to settle before updating our estimated “market” Power Ratings in the CFL. Not much change in the site reversal in the Ottawa/Calgary rematch…which won’t help for estimating home-field value!
MLB: South Point updates World Championship odds in wake of surges by Dodgers and Astros
New futures prices went up at the South Point Monday for winning the World Series. We led VSiN City yesterday with recaps of the outstanding play from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. Those dominating performances are reflected in the new prices. The South Point braintrust still sees the Dodgers as having the more challenging pathway because of the strong starts from divisional rivals Arizona and Colorado. Houston currently has the best percentage win chance overall.
Odds to Win the World Series
Houston 3/1 (25% win chance)
Boston 4/1 (20% win chance)
Cleveland 4/1 (20% win chance)
LA Dodgers 9/2 (18% win chance)
Chicago Cubs 6/1 (14% win chance)
Washington 8/1 (11% win chance)
NY Yankees 8/1(11% win chance)
Colorado 10/1 (9% win chance)
Baltimore 10/1 (9% win chance)
Texas 10/1 (9% win chance)
Arizona 15/1 (6% win chance)
Those obviously add up to well over 100%. Sportsbooks bake in a form of vigorish on futures to create a house edge.
Many analytics approaches are more bullish on the Dodgers because of the team’s depth of talent and run differential to date. Through the weekend, respected site fangraphs had its World Series Championship percentages this way…
LA Dodgers: 19%
Chicago Cubs 10%
NY Yankees 5%
Everyone else combined 6%
You can click here (and save that web address!) to get daily updates through the season on playoff and World Series Championship odds from an analytics perspective.
MLB: Is it time for a “humidor alert” in Arizona?
Several weeks ago we told you we’d keep an eye out for the possibility that the Arizona Diamondbacks would start storing baseballs in a humidor to help contain scoring at their extreme hitter’s park.
For most of the season, nothing unusual was happening. But the first four games of the just-completed Phillies series represented a precipitous drop from prior standards. Yes…it’s the Phillies and the Phillies are lousy. But, even lousy teams should get runs on the board at this site.
For now, we’ll just present the evidence…then keep an eye on what happens through the rest of the homestand against St. Louis and Colorado.
Arizona scoring sums by homestand, from low to high in each set (median in parenthesis)…
- First homestand: 5-10-11-(12)-12-13-14 (average 11.0)
- Second homestand: 2-4-8-8-(12-13)-13-13-16-18 (average 10.7)
- Third homestand: 3-7-8-9-(9)-10-10-10-15 (average 9.0)
- Fourth homestand: 6-(9)-14 (average 9.7)
- Fifth homestand: 5-11-(12-12)-14-18 (average 12.0)
- 4 games into current homestand: 3-(7-7)-11 (average 7.0)
We’re not telling you the humidor is definitely in play. We just want to put the earlier storyline back on your radar. The best time to beat the market is when a new reality has “changed the rules” everyone’s used to following. Those rule changes don’t always announce themselves in the headlines. Sometimes they drop bread crumbs in the numbers. If St. Louis and Colorado light up the scoreboard, no harm no foul on a dead end. If the median and average stay below the prior norms, this was an effort worth pursuing.
MLB: Pitching previews for four marquee matchups
The recent surge in mid-level teams reaching the .500 mark has helped create more matchups involving teams at .500 or better going head-to-head. We have FOUR on the Tuesday night card. Here’s a quick look at the “three true outcome” stats and fielding independent pitching representations for the probable pitchers in those four games.
Chicago Cubs at Washington (early line: Washington -170, total 7.5 Under -115)
- Jake Arrieta: 24.7% K’s, 6.9% walks, 1.4 HR/9, 3.78 xFIP
- Max Scherzer: 35.3% K’s, 5.8% walks, 1.0 HR/9, 3.11 xFIP
This would have been a dream matchup if Arrieta hadn’t lost some velocity and increased his home run count. Scherzer’s monstrous K-Rate has some analytics-minded folks tabbing him as the best pitcher in baseball (ahead of even Clayton Kershaw) at the moment. Washington is pricey in this bounce back spot off the Monday night setback. Scherzer is much more likely to impose his will on proceedings, particularly against the lesser of the two offenses.
Minnesota at Boston (early line: Boston -190, total 10.5 Under -120)
- Hector Santiago: 16.5% K’s, 9.8% walks, 1.9 HR/9, 5.94 xFIP
- Drew Pomeranz: 26.1% K’s, 8.0% walks, 1.4 HR/9, 3.67 xFIP
Minnesota pitchers have some very ugly stats. Some of that has been due to the high scoring tendencies of their home park thus far in 2017. But, it’s just not a group that has much control over its destiny because of low strikeout rates. Huge edges here for Pomeranz both in K-Rate and fielding independent pitching. The market expects another easy win on the heels of Monday’s 4-1 decision. The Red Sox are 21-13 after a 21-21 start. Looking forward, fangraphs is expecting Boston to play about .550 ball, Minnesota about .450 ball the rest of the season.
Texas at Cleveland (early line: Cleveland -160, total 10 Over -115)
- Tyson Ross: 18.0% K’s, 10.3% walks, 1.0 HR/9, 4.77 xFIP
- Mike Clevinger: 26.7% K’s, 12.8% walks, 1.3 HR/9, 4.42 xFIP
Ross has only made two starts this season. So his stat line will endure some changes until there’s a meaningful sample size. Clevinger is tough to make contact against…but that high walk rate counteracts the high K-Rate. That fielding independent pitching mark makes him vulnerable as a pricey home favorite. In fact, the Indians are 0-3 in his home starts.
LA Angels at LA Dodgers (early line: LA Dodgers -220, total 8.5 Over -115)
- Jesse Chavez: 17.6% K’s, 7.2% walks, 2.0 HR/9, 4.72 xFIP
- Kenta Maeda: 24.9% K’s, 6.9% walks, 1.4 HR/9, 4.14 xFIP
Maeda’s getting strikeouts, but has been too prone to allowing badly timed blows thus far. Obviously, Chavez has been home run prone himself. Is it good karma that he’s pitching in Chavez Ravine? Probably not against this opposing offense!
Thanks for your Tuesday visit to VSiN City. If you have any comments or questions about this newsletter or our broadcast programming, please drop us a note. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter for programming bulletins and special video and audio snippets throughout the day. And, remember that newsletter subscribers receive those very handy betting sheets each weekday from the South Point. If you haven’t already subscribed, please do so by clicking here.
Back with you Wednesday to build some tentative Big Ten “market” Power Ratings, and to continue monitoring betting angles on pennant race baseball.