Remember that Mattison is back and Ryan should be [Fuller]
Ed-Seth: Before every season a million prognosticators will tell you how the coming year shall unfold. Among these, usually the most accurate are those by the gamblers, for it is they more so than bloggers who ply their trade by ruthlessly excising their biases. Of these oddsplayers, our go-to guy is jamiemac of Just Cover Blog. For this reason I asked him to give us his own preview of the things that concern us, and he asked me to put pretty pictures in it, for it is at pretty picturing that we bloggers truly excel.
Football Study Hall riled up the Michigan base earlier in the week with their pessimistic projection of 7-5, 4-4. That would be a disaster. We're all anticipating much better after all. My simple expectation alone is make it to the Ohio State game controlling our own fate in the division. It's a lock that I would use up my allotment of FIRE HOKE ROD jokes on twitter if the season spirals towards that record.
But I'm don't come to bury the math. I do come to mention their projection puts them on the opposite side of the betting community. Over at 5Dimes.com, the Wolverines have moved to betting favorites in the Legends Division race after spending portions of the summer behind Nebraska and Michigan State. Michigan is chalk at +220 odds, followed by Nebraska, +290; Michigan St, +300; Northwestern, +325; Iowa, +1500; and Minnesota, +2900.
|How quickly they forget what I look like
in pads. [Upchurch]
There are reports that the Over 8.5 wins on Michigan has become one of the most popular bets of the summer. Another sign is simple point spread movement in favor of Michigan on the various Games Of The Year boards. Seven of the 10 Michigan games offered this summer have seen an adjustment based on Michigan action coming into their coffers. Take a look at the shifts:
vs Central Michigan: Opened, -26; Current, -31.5
vs Notre Dame: Opened, pick 'em; Current -3
vs Minnesota: Opened, -15; Current, -17
at Penn St: Opened, -2.5; Current, -3
at Michigan St. Opened, +3; Current, +2.5
at Northwestern. Opened +3; Current, -3
vs Ohio St: Opened +6; Current, +4
Some of those movements aren't that significant. But in five of those games, the line has shifted at least two points, including in the two most important home games of the season. In the case of the Northwestern game, the Wolverines have gone from underdogs to chalk. One line did move against Michigan, it's November road game at Iowa where Michigan opened as -10.5 favorites only to see the number come down to -9.5. Two lines have stayed the same the whole way through: -4 vs Nebraska and -12 at UConn, the latter line continuously balanced by Heiko throwing his MGoWages on the Huskies. Probably. Maybe. WOTS, at least.
[More good things after the jump]
What's notable is it's really the first time in recent years that there's been a summer consensus betting on the Wolverines. The Golden Nugget has only been releasing summer lines since 2007 and during almost every year, it's been widespread action against the Maize and Blue in the run up to the season. Obviously, the Rich Rod years were a prime bet against time, from the pure unknown leading into his first season to the known, laughable quality of his poor defense in the later years. The unknown, and lingering doubt about the defense, dogged any Michigan action before Hoke's first season too. We saw some bets come Michigan's direction last summer, but we also saw the lines in the Notre Dame and Ohio State games go against the Wolverines at the same time. This seems to be the first year that early gamblers are expecting good things out of Michigan.
NORTHWESTERN, THE 2013 SUMMER BET AGAINST TEAM OF THE YEAR
The Northwestern Wildcats are receiving a ton of preseason hype and pundit love, but early gamblers are not buying the Purple. Want some proof? At different points over the summer, Nebraska, Michigan St and Michigan have taken turns being the betting favorite to win the Big Ten Legends Division. Northwestern does have short odds at +350 to make the Big Ten Championship Game, but not only have they never been chalk, but they've pretty much always been behind the above three in the betting pecking order. The regular season win total boards show a lean against the Wildcats as well. Over at 5Dimes.com, they've listed Northwestern's win total at 8.5, but it's the Under play that carries a costly -230 price tag. Even at sportsbook.com, where the betting number is 7.5, they've made an Under play the 'favorite,' albeit only slightly at -120. Sure the league schedule is harder this year as Purdue and Indiana rotate off the docket in favor of Ohio State and Wisconsin, but consider the contradiction for a moment. Despite all the plaudits Northwestern is receiving and a rare spot in the preseason rankings, gambling houses are enticing bets on the Over and forcing Under bettors to pay more up front in order to somehow leverage their way to even action on both sides.
The surest sign that bettors are flocking to go against Northwestern is the movement all summer long in their appearances on various Games Of The Year board. The odds shifted against them in six of the nine games on the futures betting board. They've dropped more than a field goal off the chalk in the Cal and Iowa games.
|To those for whom Northwestern is a
savvy pick who only lost by tiny
margins, re-read their schedule.
They gone from favorite to underdog in the Michigan game. They're catching more points now on bets in the Wisconsin game.
at Cal: Opened -10.5, Current -6
vs Scuse: Opened 13, Current -13
vs OSU: Opened -8, Current -6. (yes, in the instance of their toughest game, bettors are actually playing NW)
at Wisco: Opened +6, Current +7
vs Minny: Opened -15, Current -14
at Iowa: Opened -12, Current -8.5
vs Michigan: Opened -3, Current +3
vs MSU: Opened -3, Current -2.5
at Illinois: Opened -13, Current -13
Of the shifts against them, five have occurred in games the Wildcats were installed as favorites. That's maybe where the reasons behind the Fade Northwestern Summer Tour of 2013 begin. Northwestern has been terrible favorites over the years. I've been betting Northwestern games for awhile now and they're pretty easy to figure out. Bet on them as underdogs away from home. Bet against them as favorites on any field. That's simple enough, right? Under Pat Fitzgerald, the Cats are 21-10 ATS when catching points away from home. They had been a measly 6-19 ATS when laying points during this tenure. Until last year, when the Cats blew up that part of the equation, going a perfect 6-0 in chalk chances. Early bird gamblers are banking on a regression back to old form for Northwestern as favorites. They'll be a different kind of chalk this year. Last year, they were short, less-than-one-score chalk fives times against teams that were a combined 18-43. This summer they were installed as double digit chalk five times. They weren't favored over a team with a winning record a year ago, but they opened as chalk against Michigan and Michigan State in 2013. For the most part, those are the games early action is going against Northwestern.
Here's something else to consider. A year ago, Northwestern won the betting national championship, logging a 12-1 ATS mark. Since 2002, there have been 36 total teams that cashed in ten or more covers in a single season. Only one of those teams managed to even repeat the feat as the rest all followed up with a worse ATS season. (Quick. Name the one team in this bunch that's pulled off the back-to-back ten cover or more season trick. Answer at end of column). It's not that surprising that teams cant cover more than 80 percent games in consecutive seasons. What's interesting is 23 of those 36 teams followed up that season with a losing ATS record. Combined, they reeled in just a 214-230-7 ATS mark. Not a huge edge. Digging deeper, we find the road chalk role the main culprit dragging these teams down. Team that covered the spread ten or more times in a season are 51-67 ATS the following year as road favorites. Now that's something we can play with. I don't know if this is pushing the early motives against Northwestern, but it's worth pointing out that two of the bigger lines moves against the Cats have taken place in games at Iowa and at Cal.
One caveat here. A year ago was a down year for this formula. There were six teams in the role and half at least managed to return a winning number against the closing betting line. And those road favorites actually turned a slight profit with a 10-8 positive mark. Stanford, Arkansas St and Western Kentucky combined blew this up with an 8-2 ATS mark. Was last year an outlier of sorts or did oddsmakers catch up to the trend and book tighter numbers? I tend to think this is still something worth taking a look at. I've noticed over the years that cumulative results from the Sun Belt and MAC regularily blow to smithereens long standing trends. There's just something about those leagues, so it didn't really surprise as I tallied these all up that it was a pair of Sun Beasters breaking this up a year ago. If somebody asks me to name one team this year that will have a winning record against the spread, I feel pretty confident we can say 'Northwestern's Opponents' and get away with it. And if you're keeping score at home, the other teams in this role this season are Kent, Fresno, Ole Miss, Utah State and San Jose St.
OHIO STATE, THE (UN)POPULAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PIC
They went 12-0, return almost everybody, and operate like an SEC team.
What's not to like? [Fuller]
Of course, it's hard not to talk about the Big Ten without bringing up the Ohio State Buckeyes. Everyone appears to be looking up the Bucks as the 2013 season begins. They're -115 to win the Big Ten, with their closest competitor Michigan coming in at +550. They are an obscene -465 to represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship. You can get them at a "cheaper" -330 to win the division with listings that include Penn State. After the Bucks, those odds read Wisconsin, +550; Penn St, +1000; Indiana, +1950; Purdue, +3100; and Illinois, +5300. Ohio State is a heavy, double digit favorite in every one of its games listed right now except for at Michigan, which is -3 or -4 depending on the book, and Northwestern, -6. At most shops, Braxton Miller is the chalk to win the Heisman Trophy. They are +600 to win the National Championship and are the only team other the betting favorite Alabama with shorter than 10/1 odds to win the whole thing. Ohio State is so popular a play right now to win it all that the Las Vegas Hotel/Casino Super Book is reporting twice as much action on the Buckeyes compared to anyone else at the board. The heavy action doesn't seem to concern sportsbook management, however. The money quote from that post:
“I think I’d have 10 or 11 teams favored over Ohio State on a neutral field,” said Ed Salmons, head oddsmaker at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino SuperBook. “But, because of their schedule, they’ll probably go undefeated, get into the championship game, be a 10-point dog to Alabama and get run out of the building.”
I tried to find a prop bet on Michigan and Ohio State meeting in the Big Ten Championship game, but couldn't find anything. I'd be interested in knowing what those odds would be, especially with all the hype of a possible rematch in Indianapolis.
|Wisconsin is at that point in their
Michigan history when they schedule
games against middling Pacific Coast
teams that suddenly get good.
[USPresswire via Bucky's 5th quarter]
BIG TEN NON CONFERENCE BITS
The Big Ten is on a dismal 5-20 straight up run in true road games against the Pac-10/12. We have three instances this season to track: Northwestern at Cal, NW -6; Ohio St at Cal, OSU -19.5; and Wisconsin at Arizona St, ASU -2.5. I have already professed my love for Arizona St on that line. As for those other two games involving Cal, we obviously like the Bears, at least with the points, against Northwestern based on the numbers we presented above. As for against OSU, well lets just see if the Bears don't take the gas pipe for us this weekend. If they cover, maybe we'll go back to that well in Week 3 when the Bucks come to town. Speaking of those two Cal games, what happens if Northwestern plays Cal on the road much better than OSU does? What if they blow out the Bears, and the Buckeyes just squeak by? Mark May's brain might explode on national TV. It will for sure be the one single thing callers on the new Paul Finebaum will be able to recite about the Buckeyes all fall.
Most every September is marked by Notre Dame's local tour of the Big Ten. As of now, Michigan is -3 vs Notre Dame, while the Irish are -6 vs Michigan St and -14.5 vs Purdue. Typically, I usually side with the points in the rivalries with Michigan and MSU. But, I'm not feeling it this year. Maybe it's just my old soul finally coming to grips with the demise of what's been a great Michigan-ND since 1978. Whatever, screw the Irish. Have fun hosting Duke and Wake Forest and losing to Louisville going forward. Love you, Rutgers.
|When your MAC warmup turns out to be
a national championship contender
coming off a BCS game with a Heisman
candidate on hand, you are so Iowa.
Northern Illinois has a decent shot at going undefeated and possibly returning to a BCS Bowl. I doubt they make it back again with a loss on their ledger. Last year was goofy in that regard. Two Big Ten hurdles stand in their way in the early going with road trips to Iowa and Purdue. There is no line out for that Purdue game yet. The line for this weekends clash between Northern and Iowa is Hawkeyes -3. When it officially opened earlier in the summer, it was -6. I liked the Huskies on that line, but never played it and now look what's happened. Some would say the value has already been bet away on that game. I tend to agree, it looked so much more attractive catching nearly a touchdown. Here's an ominous stat the Huskies need to buck: They haven't won a season opener played on the road since 1983.
That's all I got so far. Once we see some live games play out, we'll see a shifting of the odds. We'll keep everyone updated on those.
Oh yeah, the answer to the trivia question: It's the 2004 Utah Utes, year 2 of the Urban Meyer tenure in Salt Lake. That's the only team since 2002 to cover the spread ten times in a season the year after doing at least the same. That was his undefeated Utes squad that eventually won the Fiesta Bowl over Pitt. They were lethal chalk eaters. I know for a fact they single handedly almost bankrupted at least one local book in Chicago that season. Shivers. Here's hoping that doesn't happen in his second year in Columbus.