As difficult as it was last week, coming up with plays that showed both significant Power Ratings overlay and a market response in line with our overlay, this is even more challenging. With only 11 lined games, this Championship week presents even more of a challenge, as not only have our Power Ratings precisely adjusted to the market, but the market is extremely efficient.
This week, with fewer games than an NFL Sunday, we can expect a tighter market than that of the NFL, and the lack of movement we have seen from opening spreads demonstrates this truth. Therefore, while these games may be exciting from an entertainment standpoint, I wouldn’t go crazy, and would pick all spots, if any, very wisely.
While we don’t have many games showing a significant amount of overlay compared to the market, we do have a few games with some overlay around key numbers worth considering.
But before we get into our Championship Week plays, I’ll quickly recap last week’s Rivalry Week action that had us going 1-2, and bringing our final regular season record to 17-20.
The first play of the week was with Arkansas; and with the market moving significantly away with our number, we went with it. This proved to be the wrong decision. The Razorbacks ended up getting blown out, 38-0, and were a good example of why you should exercise caution when a huge move in the market comes against your position.
Outgaining the Hogs, 408-187, Missouri won yards per play by six yards, and dominated 3rd down, executing on nearly 50% of attempts to 19%. Not that there will be opportunity to play off their performances, with only Missouri’s bowl game left, but there was nothing misleading about this final.
Louisville held a little more promise are far as market analytics are concerned, with a half-point reverse line move toward our number, against consensus, but the Cardinals too were blown out. Closing as a 16.5-point underdog, Louisville would go on to lose 56-10 to Kentucky.
The Wildcats nearly doubled Louisville’s yardage output, outgaining the Cards, 601-305, moved the sticks 29 times to 10, and won yards per play by seven yards. All this despite a negative two turnover differential equals statistical domination. Couldn’t have been more wrong here, and the risk of playing on a team that has rarely been competitive this year did not pay off.
A rough week wasn’t completely lost, however, as Baylor came through as an eventual 4.5-point underdog to upset Texas Tech, 35-24. With the Bears opening as a seven-point dog, this was really the only major market move toward our number of the week, and the position payed off. The win was far from fluke, as Baylor outgained Tech by 131 yards, winning yards per play by 3.2, and first downs by eight. A deserved cover, and a welcomed one, saving us from a disastrous rivalry week.
As last week exemplified, as did much of this season, the strong moves in the market toward our positions seem to pay off more than weaker ones, and this is where market analysis along with Power Ratings is beneficial. It’s also important to supplement these plays with a situational handicap, as I’ve continued to preach, because Power Ratings indeed are only a starting point.
Therefore, as we move on to the final Power Ratings Plays of the year before bowl season, I thank everyone who, through all the ups and downs, has come along for the ride. Hopefully, this article helped you find a few winners here and there, and provided some value, at the very least, as a teaching tool from someone who is still learning as well.
Northern Illinois vs. Buffalo
Off shore Consensus Open: Northern Illinois 4 – 110
Off-shore Consensus Line: Northern Illinois 3.5 – 115
Bang the Book’s Power Rating line: Northern Illinois 2
Easily our strongest position of the week from a Power Ratings perspective, we have some decent value potential with Northern Illinois, now a 3.5-point underdog, down from four. Adam’s numbers have this game two, which gives us overlay through a primary key, and with the spread action overwhelmingly in support of Buffalo so far (73%), this move appears to be quite sharp indeed.
Currently, the market is at a consensus of 3.5 with extra juice, while the two outliers at each end of the market reveal a sharp/public split. MyBookie is anchoring the recreational side at 4 -115 on the Huskies, while The Greek is the first major off-shore to test the waters at three, reducing the key number on the NIU side.
Considering the strong consensus on the Buffalo side, and how likely it is that the late recreational money will pour in on the Bulls, I’d exercise patience here and see if more books don’t make that move back up to four by Friday night.
Virginia Tech vs. Marshall
Off shore Consensus Open: VA Tech – 4.5 -109
Off-shore Consensus Line: VA Tech – 3.5 -110
Bang the Book’s Power Rating line: Va Tech – 6
Having this game at six, we are a bit surprised to see this one moving against our number, especially with 55% of the spread action thus far in favor of the Hokies. The market would tell us to tread lightly here, but if your situational handicap supports a play, then our Power Rating overlay suggests two-and-a-half points of value through a secondary key number.
Currently, the market is mostly at 3.5, save for BetOnline, who is at soft four on a Hokie bet, while Pinnacle and 5Dimes are the only two major off-shores to be offering reduced juice at the current consensus. The reduced number at higher limit shops would lead me astray from laying a standard -110 right now, and this is a situation in which I’d be more inclined to sit back and watch the market further.
I’d don’t think you see a better number than 3.5 here, though, as late recreational action would be expected to favor VA Tech, and the number has already gone through four.
Overall, I’d be cautious here, as this move through four may be suggestive of some sharp support in support of Marshall at 4.5.
Cal vs. Stanford
Off shore Consensus Opener: Cal 2 -110
Off-shore Consensus Line: Cal 3.5 -115
Bang the Book’s Power Rating line: Cal 0.5
This number has gradually made its way up to a soft 3.5 from opening at two, while the action overall has been mostly split, with consensus slightly favoring Stanford, at 52%. Again, we want to exercise caution here, because they number has made it way through three at some shops, and strictly recreational money isn’t likely to justify a move of that nature.
On the other side of the coin, we now have Power Ratings overlay through a primary key, and if we are confident enough in our position, and a situational angle supports our play, than we could have value in playing back at the move.
At 3.5, we do have some relative value to the sharper shops, with Pinnacle (3 +106) and Matchbook (3 +103) unwilling to go all the way to 3.5; and with the norm in the market at 3.5 being heavy juice on UNI, that 3.5 -110 at 5Dimes has some allure.
If I could get a hold of a 3.5 without having to pay that 5% tax, that’d be worth a look ASAP, but rather than playback at a significant move in the market AND pay extra juice, I’d rather wait this thing out and see if you can’t avoid that price with a better number closer to kickoff.