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Sharps vs. Squares: Scoring the battle between pros and public
The sharp vs. square debate rages on in Las Vegas and offshore. Sterling Ross, a Las Vegas oddsmaker, is keeping score between the betting public and the wiseguys as he takes action throughout the week.
Ross is keeping records of the five biggest moves each week and how the pros and joes fair for an entire football season. If you don’t happen to see your game listed, feel free to ask about it in the comments section and Sterling will let you know if there was a sharp vs. square battle taking place in the sportsbooks across Las Vegas.
Remember, just because lines move doesn’t always mean the sharps and squares are on opposite sides.
Illinois Fighting Illini @ Purdue Boilermakers
Opened: Illinois -6.5, Closed: Illinois -3
Anyone who spent the early part of their college football Saturday watching this game immediately got the feeling the wiseguys knew what they were doing backing Purdue. Right from the moment the line was released the spread began to nosedive towards the improving Boilermakers.
Illinois, fresh off its lethargic effort against Ohio State, never got off the bus in West Lafayette and sharper bettors properly gauged the hangover that plagued the Illini. I was amazed when a number of bettors at the counter asked if there were major injuries contributing to the number falling off the table.
There are points at which I wish I could explain the move but then there are some games, like this one, the wiseguys just get right from the start.
Maryland Terrapins @ Florida State Seminoles
Opened: Florida State -17, Closed: Florida State -20
As the season progresses, certain high profile sides fall off the radar because of a few poor results earlier in the campaign the public refuses to overlook. Florida State lost three games in the middle of the season when E.J. Manuel struggled with an injured shoulder. Outside of a lone blowout vs. Duke last week, FSU was scuffling in the eyes of the casual gambler.
But good teams eventually get healthy and the betting public remains a step behind the curve creating value for the wiseguy. The Seminoles took full advantage of a Terps team licking its wounds from multiple big, blown leads the week before.
Thanks to a balanced offense, FSU jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and was able to dust off Coach Edsall’s bunch 41-16 covering as the rare sharp double-digit chalk.
Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Missouri Tigers
Opened: Oklahoma State -7.5, Closed: Oklahoma State -5.5
For some odd reason wiseguys have a knack for wanting to beat elite teams with undermanned home underdogs. Saturday was no different as sharp money poured in on the dog about 30 minutes before kickoff driving the price on Oklahoma State down through two key numbers.
While the final score might be a bit misleading, anyone who watched the game realized Oklahoma State was the better team throughout and if Mizzou had found a way to cover it would have been of the backdoor variety.
A professional bettor once told me when you bet bad teams you can’t expect good things to happen.
Air Force Falcons @ Boise State Broncos
Opened: Boise -30, Closed: Boise -28
Styles of play can dictate the outcome of a game more than talent when you talk about an option offense catching a boatload of points. Wiseguys found a live dog in Air Force catching north of four touchdowns against a highly ranked Boise team.
AFA used its ground and pound game to chew up large chunks of yardage and clock to shorten the game against a more talented Bronco side. This price climbed as high as 32 before it came crashing back to earth on gameday.
In typical sharp fashion, they didn’t waste an opportunity bet the Falcons for the first half as well knowing possessions would be at a premium all game long.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
Opened: Oakland -3, Closed: Oakland -3
So if you’re just looking at where the spread opened and closed you must be wondering why the hell I picked this game. This line provided the biggest rollercoaster ride of the football weekend climbing as high as 6.5 when news of the Carson Palmer deal broke and the public was told he’d be making the start.
When Hue Jackson shied away from his original stance and inserted Boller into the starting line-up the price fell immediately. The bigger injury no one talked about for the Raiders was the sore hamstring of Sebastian Janikowski forcing him out of action.
Total mismatch all over the field and KC easily took the wiseguys to the window with a resounding underdog cover.