A lot to talk about in this respite between the huge opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament and the Sweet 16 that tips off Thursday.
Let’s get to it!
ACC’s collapse in points-spread terms
Few expected “the collapse of the ACC” to be a big story in the 2017 tournament. Heading into the Sweet 16, only North Carolina remains from the nine league teams that received invitations.
As bad as things were straight up (7-8 on the final scoreboards), it was even worse against the spread.
- The ACC went 2-13 against the number.
- The ACC’s average result missed the line by 8.4 points.
- The ACC went 0-9 ATS vs. other “Power Six” conferences.
- The ACC’s average miss was 14 points vs. the Power Six!
This isn’t a case of “the public” slightly overrating the ACC by a couple of points per game. Virtually all the major influences in the betting markets (the public, the “smarts” as South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro calls them, computer projections, and composite oddsmaker power ratings) held the league in too much regard.
- If you gave the ACC 3 more points in the line, the ATS record only rises to 3-12 ATS.
- If you gave the ACC 5 more points in the line, the mark is just 7-8 ATS.
- It takes a SEVEN-point boost in the number for the ACC to break .500 at 8-7 ATS.
- If you gave ACC teams a 5-point boost vs. the Power 6, they still go 2-7 ATS.
- If you gave ACC teams a 10-point boost vs. the Power 6, they still go 4-5 ATS.
When the ACC was playing the Big 10, Big 12, Big East, SEC (they didn’t draw a Pac-12 opponent), the market prices were so far off that it represented an almost complete analytical breakdown. Congrats if you were a skeptic!
Who were the worst ACC culprits? Florida State missed the scoreboard by 32.5 points in its loss to Xavier, Virginia missed by 27.5 in a loss to Florida, Miami missed by 22 when they were stunned by Michigan State, Duke missed by 13.5 when they were dispatched by South Carolina.
North Carolina still “futures” favorite at 3-1
That lone ACC entry is still the favorite in “Futures” prices to cut down the nets in Glendale, AZ. Here are the numbers from the South Point, as of Monday:
3/1: North Carolina (25% to win)
4/1: Kansas (20% to win)
5/1: Arizona (17% to win)
6/1: Gonzaga, UCLA (14% to win apiece)
8/1: Kentucky (11% to win)
12/1: Wisconsin (8% to win)
15/1: Michigan, West Virginia (6% to win)
18/1: Purdue (5% and less to win from this point down)
20/1: Oregon, Florida
100/1: Xavier, South Carolina
Remember that sports books incorporate a form of vigorish into futures prices to create a house edge, so the percentages add up to more than 100%.
Only two teams are alive from that “Four vs. the Field” proposition bet from before the tournament (as devised at the South Point). Kansas and UCLA will carry the banner forward (Villanova and Duke are out) against the other 14 teams. That prop went up on the board at pick-em two weeks ago, before being bet up all the way to “Field -160.” It’s now about 2-1 against Kansas and Duke based on the South Point house prices. Nate Silver’s “no-vig” projections at 538 have Kansas at 15%, UCLA at 4% to win the national title. That’s a bit over 4-1 against.
Updated market power ratings
Last week we presented an estimate of how the betting markets appeared to have tournament teams rated entering the Big Dance. As we mentioned at the time, this is one of the sets of Power Ratings that VSIN oddsmaker Vinny Magliulo studies. Let’s update those. We’ll go by region.
Baylor (81) vs. South Carolina (77)
Florida (82) vs. Wisconsin (81)
Michigan (82) vs. Oregon (81)
Kansas (85) vs. Purdue (80)
(Note that Kansas appears to be getting at least a two-point market boost from playing in Kansas City, as Magliulo and host Matt Youmans discussed on “The Book Report” Monday)
North Carolina (85) vs. Butler (78)
UCLA (82) vs. Kentucky (81)
Gonzaga (84) vs. West Virginia (81)
Arizona (81) vs. Xavier (75)
(Note that Gonzaga and Arizona appear to be getting a minor “proximity” boost from playing in California against teams from another time zone)
You can use those numbers to make rough estimates of what Elite Eight point spreads will be when the winners in each region meet over the weekend.
South Point reduces vig from -110 to -105 on Big Dance sides
The South Point sports book announced Monday that its customers will only be charged -105 vigorish on lost bets instead of the standard -110 for NCAA Tournament team sides all the way through the championship finals.
(Note that -110 will still hold true on NCAA tournament totals, and all bets from the NIT, CBI, College Insider tournament, and the NBA).
What does this mean in real world terms for bettors? Well, everybody loses bets--and now you’ll lose less on those lost bets.
- Instead of needing to hit 52.5% of your picks to break even, you now only have to hit 51.2% of your bets to break even.
- Instead of earning a 10/1 return on “sides,” and a 20/1 return on “middles,” you’ll now earn 20/1 on sides and 40/1 on middles.
Let’s talk about that second bullet point for a moment. A reduction in “juice” (Vegas slang for vigorish) means that bettors who try to get the best of the market from both directions will now enjoy a great potential return on their efforts.
Under the -110 standard, if you risk $110 to win $100 on the favorite -3.5 points, and $110 to win $100 on the underdog plus 5.5 points, you’re risking $10 to win $200 that the game will land “in the middle” on 4 or 5. But, with reduced vigorish, you’re now only laying $105 on those bets, which means you’re risking $5 to win $200 on the middle. That’s a 40/1 return.
Let’s say the distance is only from -3.5 points on the favorite to plus 5 points on the underdog. You still get the full $200 if it lands on 4. But, if it lands on 5, you win $100 by hitting the “side” of the boundary. You push on the underdog plus 5, but still win the favorite -3.5. Landing on 5 now provides a 20/1 return on your $5 risk.
It’s likely the South Point’s move will increase total handle significantly (though there may be some pressure on other Nevada sports books to match it). On Brent Musburger's show Monday, Chuck Esposito, sports book director at Sunset Station, indicated that his book would NOT follow the South Point and move to -105.
The South Point's decision also will increase the number of sharp bettors trying to “time the market” by betting with the flow of anticipated public money early in the week, then buying back against public sentiment after a line adjustment.
Either Texas-Arlington or Cal-Bakersfield headed to NIT final four!
The NIT was hoping that some Dance snubs would rise to the occasion to create an electric Final Four in that storied postseason event. But, NONE of #1 seeds Syracuse, Illinois State, California, nor Iowa could even reach the not-so-Elite Eight. (The pundits were right, it really was a weak bubble for the NCAA's.)
Worse, only one of the #2 seeds is still alive in the quarterfinals. None of the #3 seeds are still playing. Here's a look at the quarterfinal matchups, with current national computer rankings from Ken Pomeroy in parenthesis...
Tuesday: #6 Georgia Tech (#79 kenpom) at #5 Ole Miss (#70 kenpom)
Tuesday: #6 Richmond (#86 kenpom) at #4 TCU (#40 kenpom)
Wednesday: #4 C. Florida (#67 kenpom) at #2 Illinois (#64 kenpom)
Wednesday: #8 Cal Bakersfield (#87 kenpom) at #7 UT Arlington (#72 kenpom)
There are only eight seeds in each quarter of the draw. So, Bakersfield is a rarity to get this far (they upset #1 seed Cal in their opener, before routing #4 seed Colorado State Monday night). TCU is the best team left in the NIT brackets according to Pomeroy, even though Illinois received a more respected seed.
Monday's NIT results if you missed them...
Central Florida (plus-5.5) upset Illinois State 63-62 (hosts just 34% on 2-point shots).
UT Arlington (-5) dominated Akron 85-69 (64% on 2-pointers and 12 made treys).
Illinois (-8) pulled away from Boise State 71-56 (forcing 16 turnovers).
Cal Bakersfield (plus-5) stunned Colorado State 81-63 (hosts just 6 of 26 on treys, 17 turnovers).
New York ticketholders were already griping about the NCAA East regional coming to Madison Square Garden this week. Next week's NIT semifinals and finals sure won't be brightening up those neon lights on Broadway.
Lack of drama disappoints Monday in the NBA
There were two much-anticipated games of interest Monday night on the NBA card. Washington was visiting Boston in a potential playoff preview of projected #2 and #3 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Out west, Golden State and Oklahoma City renewed their emotional rivalry as they continued to gear up for the postseason.
Boston (-4) carried a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter on its way to a 110-102 victory. That was the fifth straight non-cover for the suddenly drifting Wizards. Golden State (-2) carried a 26-point lead into the fourth quarter before coasting to a 111-95 decision at OKC.
Elsewhere in the NBA Monday...
Orlando (-6) held off Philadelphia 112-109. That was the seventh straight cover for the Sixers.
Charlotte (-6) beat Atlanta 105-90.
Indiana (plus-2.5) upset Utah 107-100.
Houston (-8) held off Denver in a 125-124 thriller. James Harden scored 39.
The Los Angeles Clippers (-11) beat New York 114-105.
Miami Heat Now 23-5-1 ATS with Phoenix on Deck
Though the Miami Heat failed to cover in their most recent outing vs. Portland, the off-the-radar sleeper is still one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Miami is 24-6 straight up over their last 30 games, 23-5-1 against what had been slow-reacting lines.
This week’s schedule for the Heat:
Tonight: vs. Phoenix
Thursday: vs. Toronto
Sunday: at Boston
Those last two are worthy of attention simply because Miami is very much in the playoff picture after this long surge. It’s not out of the question that Miami-Boston could be a first-round playoff series matching the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds.
That wraps up Tuesday’s VSiN Newsletter. We’ll see you again on these pages each weekday around lunchtime on the East Coast, by 10 a.m. here in Las Vegas.
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