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Where oh where are the big Pats' bets?

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

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Super Bowl betting is heating up in the Bahamas. In Minneapolis, not so much.
© USA Today Sports Images

Big Super Bowl bet in the Bahamas! Plus, the final Nevada casino tallies for 2017, better defensive effort from the Cleveland Cavaliers still can’t cover a point spread, and West Virginia loses again.

Super Bowl Betting: New bettor…same team…as another big bet on the Eagles hits the global marketplace 
Given the chilly outdoor weather in Minneapolis embracing the nation’s sports media this week for Super Bowl 52, you can imagine reporters wistfully thinking “why couldn’t today’s big story happen somewhere warm and tropical, like the Bahamas?”

And then it happened! The biggest Super Bowl story of the day occurred at the Baha Mar casino in Nassau, where a bettor wagered $1.6 million on the Philadelphia Eagles plus 4.5 points. The bet was broken into two portions…some with vigorish at -110, the rest at -115. For more details, please read this article by Todd Dewey in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Las Vegas lines remain in limbo awaiting news on Rob Gronkowski, or any sign that ANYONE wants to bet big on the New England Patriots. Stores are either at New England -4 or -4.5 depending on their existing exposure based on prior big bets on the Eagles. (And, "Bettor X" may still have some more cash burning a hole in his pocket.)

VSiN broadcasts will keep you up-to-date on the latest Super Bowl betting news. Here in VSiN City, we’ll provide our expanded stat preview for Eagles/Patriots in Friday’s week-ender. 

Nevada Casino Industry: Statewide sports betting “handle” and “win” set records in 2017
If you missed the release of the final numbers for 2017, VSiN Senior Reporter Dave Tuley breaks down all the sports betting action in this article

For overall casino gambling, these were the final 2017 numbers for net win (h/t David Purdum of ESPN)... 

Penny Slots: $3.1 billion
Blackjack: $1.2 billion
Baccarat: $1.1 billion
Craps: $393.5 million
Roulette: $367.3 million
Sports: $248.7 million

You can see that sports betting ranks well below other attractions in terms of the bottom line. Of course, many casinos use a vibrant sports book to attract visitors who might also spend some time at the gaming tables or slot machines on their visits. 

Note also that many blackjack tables on the strip now pay just 6/5 for natural 21’s rather than what had been a traditional 3/2. Not a decision that casinos are regretting.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers hold the Miami Heat to 89 points, still can’t cover!
Granting that it takes a lot of incompetent offense for a team to make just 3 out of 28 three-point attempts, the Miami Heat were disrupted by a more energetic defensive performance Wednesday night from the still overpriced Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Cleveland (-2.5) 91, Miami 89
Two-point Pct: Miami 60%, Cleveland 41%
Three Pointers: Miami 3/28, Cleveland 6/26 
Free Throws: Miami 14/25, Cleveland 29/38
Rebounds: Miami 52, Cleveland 45
Turnovers: Miami 19, Cleveland 16

While rim protection is still obviously an issue for LeBron James and company, you can see that Cleveland forced 19 turnovers and must have been doing something to prevent at least a few open looks from long range. Holding a team to 89 points in a game with just under 110 possessions is getting the job done, even if the opponent was helping you with inaccuracy. 

Cleveland has a shot to swipe a last second cover, but Kyle Korver missed the second of two free throws to lock in the final margin. 

The “printing press” stage of a “fading Cleveland” betting strategy may have ended. The Cavs are 2-2 ATS their last four games. But, they’re also 2-11 ATS their last 13, 3-16 ATS their last 19, and 6-23 ATS their last 29. Keep an eye on how this team performs without Kevin Love in action (out 6-8 weeks with a broken hand). Given that upcoming opponents aren’t likely to match Miami’s 3 of 28 mark on treys, more non-covers may be coming up. 

Wanted to mention that Isaiah Thomas was a woeful 2 of 15 shooting for Cleveland. That included an 0 for 6 mark on treys. He did get to the free throw to the tune of 9 for 9, and passed out six assists. Not a total offensive anvil. But, it will take some time for him to work into the flow of an offense that usually revolves around LeBron. 

NBA: Updated estimate of “market” Power Ratings
Time for our weekly Thursday estimate of NBA “market” Power Ratings. With the usual disclaimer that NBA estimates are transitory because of injuries to starters or unique schedule dynamics. We use a standard home court value of three points, then build a scale based on recent point spreads. 

88: Golden State  
86: Houston
83: Toronto, Oklahoma City 
82: Boston, Milwaukee, San Antonio 
81: Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota 
80: Miami, Denver, Portland
79: New Orleans
78: Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte, Dallas, Utah 
77: Washington, New York 
76: LA Clippers, LA Lakers
75: Chicago
74: Memphis
73: Brooklyn, Atlanta, Orlando 
72: Phoenix, Sacramento

There are so many injuries right now that the night-to-night numbers can vary greatly. Also, some unique schedule situations are getting extra play. Boston was docked a few points Wednesday in a “first home” spot after a long Western swing. You may have watched them win a blowout over New York anyway on ESPN. Brad Stevens even has a cure for jet lag!

Once we pass the Super Bowl on the sports calendar, NBA coverage will increase here in VSiN City. 

Big 12 Basketball: #15 West Virginia loses third straight in blowout at Iowa State
It wasn’t too long ago that West Virginia was seen as a potential #2 seed, or even #1 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. But, the Mountaineers started turning mortal in a close home loss to Baylor a few weeks ago. That was soon followed by a home loss to Kansas in a flunked national TV test.  And, after their vaunted full court press routed the poor guards of Texas 86-51, it’s been three straight ugly losses.

West Virginia (-2) lost at TCU 82-73
West Virginia (-10.5) lost to Kentucky 83-76
West Virginia (-8.5) lost at Iowa State 93-77

Those are point spread misses by 11, 17.5, and 24.5 points. Projecting a “level of play” estimate off our estimated “market” Power Ratings, West Virginia performed at 74-71-60 rather than a team in the mid 80’s on that scale. Opponents who are comfortable breaking a press aren’t afraid of these guys. And, fatigue may be setting in too. One of the problems with trying to hurry your opponents out of their comfort zone is that you wear out your own legs. 

Iowa State (plus 8.5) 93, #15 West Virginia 77 
Two-point Pct: West Virginia 49%, Iowa State 65%
Three Pointers: West Virginia 9/26, Iowa State 10/18
Free Throws: West Virginia 10/14, Iowa State 11/15
Rebounds: West Virginia 32, Iowa State 32
Turnovers: West Virginia 9, Iowa State 8
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: West Virginia 15-10-11, Iowa State 115-82-95

Run your finger down Iowa State’s category performances to get a sense of how bad West Virginia’s defense was here. That’s 65% on deuces, 56% on treys (the equivalent of 83% on two’s), and only EIGHT giveaways from a team that’s basically about #100 in the country. Sure, Iowa State often plays better than that at home. But, the Cyclones were just routed on this floor by Tennessee over the weekend. 

If you saw this halftime score of 53-43 early in the evening, and a final total for the host nearing the century mark…you’d naturally assume this was racehorse basketball. Kinda/sorta. Possession counts only reached the mid 60’s because both teams grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds. Iowa State turned those second chances into points. West Virginia often missed another shot. 

We talked after the Kentucky game about West Virgina’s penchant to fall apart in the second half. Less of an issue here because they were already down double digits at the break. But…the superior team is supposed to rally back strong with a deficit like that against a weak opponent. West Virginia still lost the second half 40-34.

West Virginia falls to 16-6 for the season, but just 5-4 in Big 12 play. Several prominent programs across the national landscape are now sitting near the .500 mark in their conferences. Iowa state rises to 12-9, yet is still only 3-6 in league action. 

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 in the Big 12 Wednesday night: Texas Tech (-8) beat Texas 73-71 in overtime on a shot at the buzzer. Tech is just 1-6 ATS its last seven, with the only cover coming at South Carolina out of conference. The advantage of experience with five starting seniors continues to dwindle as younger opponents develop through the season. Tech trailed by five with 1:25 to go in regulation. 

ACC Basketball: #2 Virginia still sharp in potential post-Duke letdown spot, but can’t cover tall spread vs. Louisville
Virginia continued to play excellent basketball in Wednesday night’s win over Louisville. But, market respect is finally rising to the Cavaliers’ high level of play. Very impressive stats vs. a recently hot team could only lead to a 10-point win as a favorite of -10.5. 

#2 Virginia (-10.5) 74, Louisville 64
Two-point Pct: Louisville 53%, Virginia 53%
Three Pointers: Louisville 8/18, Virginia 9/16
Free Throws: Louisville 6/6, Virginia 7/9
Rebounds: Louisville 26, Virginia 25
Turnovers: Louisville 13, Virginia 7
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Louisville 31-20-32, Virginia 2-3-3

You’re probably sick of us calling every Virginia boxscore a work of art. Well…how can you NOT be impressed with a team that shoots well in the paint, drills its open looks, and only turns the ball over seven times IN A HUGE POTENTIAL LETDOWN SPOT against a team that had been in solid form coming in? At the closing number, this cover for Louisville has the cards 8-1 ATS its last nine. If you want to call it a push at plus 10, that’s still 7-1-1 ATS. Louisville has basically been Sweet 16 caliber for a few weeks, even though season-long computer rankings don’t have them there yet. Virginia coasted by the Cards. 

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 77, Miami 78, Syracuse 77, Notre Dame 75, NC State 75, Georgia Tech 74, Wake Forest 73, Boston College 73, Pittsburgh 64.

Also Wednesday night in the ACC: Miami (-17) only beat Pittsburgh 69-57, Georgia Tech (pick-em) beat Syracuse 55-51, Wake Forest (plus 4.5) upset Florida State 76-72, Virginia Tech (-1) won at Boston College 85-80.

In other results involving ranked teams Wednesday evening…

#3 Purdue (-14) only beat Maryland 75-67. Three straight non-covers for the slipping Boilermakers. Maryland is 2-6 its last eight straight up, but that includes two loses to Michigan State, one to Purdue, one to Ohio State, and one to Michigan. It will be getting easier soon for the Terps. 

#5 Michigan State (-14.5) only beat Penn State 76-68. That’s three straight covers for the Nittany Lions after getting a key contributor back from a temporary suspension. Sparty is 2-5-1 ATS its last eight games after a step back from peak form. 

#8 Cincinnati (-8) beat Houston 80-70. Oft-overlooked Cincinnati is now 20-2 on the season, and 5-1-1 ATS its last seven games

#9 Arizona (-11.5) obliterated Washington State 100-72. Arizona had been just 1-6 ATS its prior seven games. Facing Wazzou can cure a lot of ills. Cougars are now 1-8 straight up and ATS their last nine. 

#18 Tennessee (-9) routed LSU 84-61. The slumping Tigers are now 1-5 straight up and ATS their last six. Tennessee is 6-2 straight up, 7-1 ATS its last eight games. 

College Basketball: “Running the Floor” with Greg Peterson

Creighton At Villanova (6:30 p.m. ET)
Opening Line: Villanova -12
Offensive Efficiency: Creighton #10, Villanova #1
Defensive Efficiency: Creighton #73, Villanova #46
Rebound Rate: Creighton #64, Villanova #94 
Percent of Shots are 3s: Creighton #40, Villanova #29
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Creighton #33, Villanova #37
Pace: Villanova #142, Creighton #38

The Big East has many of the nation’s top offenses and these are the two most efficient. Villanova is currently ranked number one in the country, with its lone loss coming at Butler where the Bulldogs shot 15-for-22 from 3-point range.

Creighton’s lineup has been retooled due to the loss of Martin Krampelj, who tore his ACL two weeks ago in a win over Seton Hall. Creighton will do its best to offset that by playing more small ball; and doing a better job of rebounding by committee.

Villanova is still playing without starting guard Phil Booth, but hasn’t missed him yet given the Wildcats’ recent offensive performances. 

These teams have similar strengths as both take a lot of 3s and have prolific offenses. Creighton has a slight rebounding edge and must take full advantage if the Blue Jays want to cover. Though Villanova plays at a moderate tempo for the year, the Wildcats have shown in their games against Marquette that they are willing to run and beat opponents at their game

Arizona State at Washington
Opening Line: Arizona State -3.5
Offensive Efficiency: Arizona State #14, Washington #124
Defensive Efficiency: Arizona State #118, Washington #120
Rebound Rate: Arizona State #148, Washington #228
Percent of Shots are 3s: Arizona State #93, Washington #254
Free Throw Shooting Percentage: Arizona State #89, Washington #282
Pace: Arizona State #33, Washington #96

Washington may not have the most impressive stats, but is fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth against an Arizona State team that has gotten off to a disappointing 4-5 start in Pac-12 play.

Arizona State has the most efficient offense in the conference for the season, but is far from a stalwart on defense having allowed at least 73 points in eight of its past nine games. Washington has a very similar defensive efficiency number to Arizona State, but plays at a slower pace, which keeps the Huskies’ games lower scoring. Washington’s defense has kicked things up a notch, allowing more than 74 points just once in Pac-12 play.

Washington seems to have improved with every passing day under first year head coach Mike Hopkins. Though when the Huskies lose, the games are not typically close. All of their five losses have come by seven or more points.

Washington has a size advantage on the Sun Devils, despite the worse rebounding rate. With Washington being a relatively poor jump shooting team, the Huskies will need to rely on their size to get second chances on offense and limit a streaky Arizona State team to one shot per possession.

If this game is decided at the free throw line, that plays into Arizona State’s hands.  Washington is the worst free throw shooting team in the Pac-12 while Arizona State is in the top 30 percent of the country.

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