Las Vegas Money Moves
October 20, 2011
Thanks to Nebraska jumping into the Big 10 fray, we having a scheduling glitch where Wisconsin has to travel to Michigan State for the second consecutive year. It didn’t turn out so well for the Badgers last season as their 34-24 loss became their only blemish of the regular season and eliminated all hopes for a national title run.
Saturday’s game will mark Wisconsin’s first trip away from Madison this season, a place where they have steam rolled all their opponents. Only a late surge by 35-point underdog UNLV has kept Wisconsin from covering every game. They'll look to go 7-0 straight up for the first time since 2004.
Michigan State comes off an emotional home win against rival Michigan, but the troubling part about siding with the Spartans this week is reflecting on their struggles at Ohio State (10-7 win) and getting rocked at Notre Dame 31-13. Outside of the Michigan and Ohio State victories, they only have wins against Central Michigan (45-7) and Florida Atlantic (44-0) to go off of. The same can be said for Wisconsin playing at home where their only real quality win was against a questionable Nebraska (48-17) squad.
The difference maker this week compared to last season's match in East Lansing is Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson, a Heisman contender and the Big 10 leader with 1,557 passing yards, 14 TDs and only one interception. His consistent quarterback play is the main variable with Wisconsin being such a large 7 ½-point road favorite.
We also have the emotional factor of Wisconsin getting up big for their first road test while Michigan State has to recapture their intensity from last waeek. Using past Big 10 situational play, the best bet involving this game might be if Wisconsin wins this week and then goes into Columbus next week sky high, but not respecting the Buckeyes, a team who could put it to them under those circumstances.
The Wynn Resort sports book opened Wisconsin minus-7 Sunday afternoon and were bet up to -8 ½ by Monday morning when most Las Vegas books started posting their lines. The Las Vegas Hilton opened the game -9 and have been bet down with Spartans money to -7 ½ through Thursday.
Even though the Hilton dropped their line with early Michigan State money, executive director Jay Kornegay knows he’ll need the Spartans to come up big.
“The combination of Wisconsin being a very public team, highly-ranked and simply being just a favorite on a Saturday night national TV game has me knowing what side we’ll need. We’ve seen Top-10 teams covering at about a 76% rate and have been getting killed. It gets even worse when those games are featured late on television,” said Kornegay.
The Top-5 teams alone this season -- the teams every casual bettor loves, knows and bets -- are 26-6 (81%) against the spread.
“We don’t even need to hit 50% on these games to show a little profit,” Kornegay explained. “Because of all the parlay action we get, we can be just below 40% and still do well, but 76%…?”
Kornegay has seen a shift of change from the casual unsophisticated bettor now being expectant of these type of streaks with the favorites to continue.
“I was walking into work Sunday morning, the day after the entire strip avoided Black Saturday with Kansas saving the day, and I overhead one guy cussing out Oklahoma because they cost him an eight-teamer (parlay),“ Kornegay said. “I’m thinking ‘you’ve been hitting these things all season,’ that type of disappointment used to be reserved for just winning a single game. Now people are expecting to win eight just because they have already this season.”
As for the Wisconsin game, Kornegay believes in Michigan State more than just what his book will need Saturday night.
“Wisconsin hasn’t been tested on the road and it’s a big number to lay.”
For whatever it's worth, former Las Vegas television sportscaster and current ESPN national radio host Colin Cowherd loves Michigan State with the points. He also went a little overboard in suggesting that because he is so intelligent with college football (he is) and popular in the Las Vegas market (he is) that every wise guy and sports book follows him (they don't). He also suggested that the line movement on the game had something to do with his choice (it didn't). We do love Cowherd in Las Vegas, but just about every unsophisticated bettor in town has been correct in college football this season.
Here’s a look at some of the other line moves during the week in Las Vegas:
Despite Florida State losing three of its last four games, the school is still very well respected in the power ratings. Its last game against Duke (41-16) was the type of performance that many expected out of them all season. The Wynn opened FSU -15 Sunday night and by Thursday afternoon, the game had moved up to -18 for their home game against a Maryland team in disarray.
Vanderbilt opened up at the Hilton as an 8 ½-point favorite against Army and has been bet up to -11. Vanderbilt will be going with sophomore QB Jordan Rodgers, the brother of Aaron Rodgers, who will be making his first career start. He's replacing Larry Smith who has been pulled from all six Vanderbilt games this season.
One top-ranked team that doesn’t have a glowing ATS record this season is Oregon at 3-2-1. The Ducks travel to Colorado and have been bet against at the Hilton from -32 down to -30 ½. Colorado, while never looking worse - almost never, is 2-1 at home ATS. The Buffs will be without RB Rodney Stewart while the status of Oregon’s dynamic duo, LaMichael James (elbow) and Darron Thomas (knee), is still up in the air with mixed reports.
California has been bet against in their 'kinda' home game (AT&T Park in San Francisco) against Utah. The Hilton opened Cal at -3 on Monday morning and it currently sits at -1 ½. The Wynn opened this game as PICK on Sunday night and currently has Cal -2.
Houston opened as a 16-point favorite at the Wynn Sunday evening for its home against Marshall and have been bet all the way to -22. The Hilton opened the game -20 on Monday morning and currently sit at -22 ½.
Alabama has been one of those teams that have been killing the sports books all season. They’re a top ranked team and they’re 6-1 ATS, much to the sports book’s disdain and bettors delight. The Hilton opened the Tide -28 and the line is currently -30 for their home against Tennessee.
Stanford has been a perfect 6-0 ATS and they face a Washington team that registered almost as many ATS wins at 5-1. The Cardinal opened as 20-point favorites and have been bet up to -20 ½.
New Mexico State has been finding some support in its long travel to Hawaii for Saturday night’s late game. Hawaii opened as a 23 ½-point favorite at the Hilton and has been bet against down to -21 ½. The Aggies have covered three straight games while Hawaii is playing only its third home game. While impressive on the road as an underdog at Louisiana Tech three weeks ago, it lost outright as a 6-point road favorite at San Jose State last Friday night.