8/29/2008 PM EST
by Mike Norris at Sports Insights
Welcome to the first edition of the NCAA Football Marketwatch. The team at Sports Insights gives sports fans unprecedented insight into the NCAA Football point-spread market. If you ever wanted to know what was really happening on the sportsbook side, you now have an all-access pass with Sports Marketplace!
Every week we speak directly with the line managers at some of the sports betting industry’s largest sportsbooks about which games the public is chasing and the Sharps are pounding. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for this week in College Football.
Marketplace – NCAA Week 1
Since this is our first year providing the NCAA Football Marketwatch, we have no results to brag about. Sports Insights did have another positive year with NCAA Football Smart Money and Square Plays, so check out those valuable Betting Systems.
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NCAA WEEK 1
The faces are ready to be painted. The beer is cold for the tailgate. The fans are ready to sing the fight song, and the marching band is leaving the field. No preseason games for the NCAA, only Spring games and Fall two-a-days to get the teams prepared. Week 1 can always be a guessing game based on Pre-season polls and lasting impressions from 9 months ago, but we’re ready for teams to battle on the way to the BCS Championship Game in Miami.
Warning to all new readers of the Sports MarketWatch column: in order to follow our selections, you’ll need ice running through your veins. Be prepared to take up meditation or acupuncture to calm the nerves. The goal of this weekly column is to highlight games that offer true “line value.” Often, if a line looks too go to be true, there is a reason. The underlining theme every week is line value. You’ll consistently need the worst teams on the board to come through. We typically buy on bad news and sell on good.
We anticipate there will be quite a few lopsided bet games this week due to the cupcakes on the schedules of many top teams. Visit SportsInsights.com to view wagering statistics on NCAA games from multiple online sportsbooks. Here are a trio of line value games we are keying on.
NCAA Week 1 Sports MarketWatch – Games to Watch
Bowling Green vs Pittsburgh (8/30 -12:00P)
Pittsburgh is being heavily hyped heading into the season despite a 5-7 record in 2007. Sophomore RB LeSean McCoy broke the Big East and Pittsburgh records for yards by a freshman last season, amassing 1,328 yards. The previous Panthers’ record was held by NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. McCoy also tallied 14 TDs. Junior QB Bill Stull returns after missing last season with an injury.
Bowling Green isn’t receiving much attention after getting stampeded by Tulsa 63-7 in the GMAC Bowl, but they did end the regular season with four straight wins. They return eight starters on offense, including Junior QB Tyler Sheehan (3,264 yards and 23 TD in 2007) and his top two WRs. The Eagles also return nine starters on defense, including the entire secondary containing multiple all-conference players.
All that preseason hype for Pitt has transferred over to the betting marketplace. This is the most lopsided bet game of the weekend, with the Panthers receiving over 90% of the bets. The line has only moved half a point with those percentages, so we like going against the public and taking Bowling Green and the points against a Pitt team that still hasn’t proven anything.
Bowling Green +13
Utah vs Michigan (8/30 – 3:30P)
Michigan hopes to begin this season on the right foot after last season’s shocking defeat at the hands of Appalachian State in the Big House. The start of the Rich Rodriguez era takes place at home against Utah. The Wolverines still haven’t named many of their starters for the season opener, as Rodriguez is still trying to find the players that best suit his spread offense. Adding to this is the one-game suspension of RB Kevin Grady for an offseason DUI arrest. He missed last season with a knee injury, but he is one of the few returning players considered a good fit for Rodriguez’s system. Michigan does return a solid defense that should keep games close.
Utah won 8 of their 9 final games last season, with their only defeat coming by a touchdown on the road to a top-25 BYU team, to finish 9-4. The Utes return eight starters from an offense that averaged over 26 points per contest in 2007. They also return eight starters on a defense that led the Mountain West Conference in defensive scoring last season, allowing only 16.8 points per game.
Michigan is receiving 68% of bets, but the line has actually moved in the opposite direction. Pinnacle opened at Michigan -3.5, but have since moved to Michigan -3, indicating some sharp money on Utah. We’ll go with the sharps and against the public, to take Utah and the points. Most books are at Michigan -3, but you can still find some books with a line of Michigan -3.5, including SIA.
Utah +3.5 (Sports Interaction)
Tennessee vs UCLA (9/1 – 8P)
Traditional powerhouse Tennessee travels to LA to welcome Rick Neuheisel back to college football. Neuheisel returns to his alma mater and brings offensive mastermind Norm Chow with him as offensive coordinator. The Bruins lost starting QB Ben Olson to a season-ending foot injury early in fall camp, and JC transfer Kevin Craft gets the opening start. UCLA’s defense finished last season ranked 14th in the nation against the run, and they will have to have a good day against Volunteers RB Adrian Foster and a strong offensive line. The Vols defense was up-and-down last season, but they finished the year with two strong showings against top 25 teams.
The intrigue in this game comes from the public backing the away Volunteers and pushing the line in that direction. We like home dogs at Sports Insights, especially when when they’re receiving more than a touchdown in the spread. Tennessee opened as -7 favorites at Pinnacle and other books, but are currently sitting at -7.5 at most books due to receiving over 75% of public bets. We’re looking for Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow to keep it close and maybe sneak out a win at home, so we’re taking the Bruins +7.5.
So, here’s a wrap-up of SportsInsights.com analysis for this week’s Games to Watch for NCAA Football Week 1.
Games to Watch (0-0)
Bowling Green +13
Utah +3.5(Sports Interaction)
It should be another exciting NCAA season. Keep Sports Marketplace Games to Watch picks handy and your browser pointed to SportsInsights.com for the latest real-time updates, using our exclusive Sports Investing tools. Also check out our new feature Campus Reports for NCAA Football information you won’t find anywhere else.
We’ll be back next Friday with the new edition of the NCAA Football Sports Marketwatch.
Enjoy the games!
Mike Norris at Sports Insights