Inside the Wagering Line
The Pinnacle Pulse, a column highlighting betting strategy and line movement on key games. In this edition, Simon Noble of PinnacleSports.com discusses handicapping college basketball games before discussing line movement on a variety of betting options at PinnacleSports.com. He then gives insight into the early line movement on this weekend’s big games.
BCS Championship Scenarios
It’s a no-brainer that Pinnacle Sports betting will be offering odds on the BCS using a -105 style pricing model that offers bettors up to 50% better value than other sportsbooks. It’s also a no-brainer that the winner of the #2 Michigan – #1 Ohio State match-up will play in the BCS National Championship Game on January 8th. Who the other contender will be is a much harder question to answer. Both teams in the championship game will be determined by the BCS Standings, but the criteria appear to change each year.
This season’s BCS formula comprises three factors that equally contribute to the rankings:
1. Harris Interactive College Football Poll
2. USA Today Coaches’ Poll
3. An average of six computer rankings
(1) The Harris Poll uses an average rating from 114 poll participants (former players, coaches, administrators and current and former members of the media). (2) The USA Today Coaches’ Poll is comprised of 63 head coaches at Division I-A institutions. (3) The computer rankings use six different sources, and discard the high and low rating for each team to get an average.
|After last weekend, the current BCS standings are:
So who are the leading contenders for the #2 spot?
At #3, USC is in control of its own destiny. The Trojans have two tough match-ups versus #15 California and #5 Notre Dame, while also facing cross-town rival UCLA. If USC wins out, they should finish at the #2 spot due to their strength of schedule.
Current odds on USC at www.PinnacleSports.com
To win the National Championship +642
To play in the BCS Championship Game +255
Florida’s chances are hurt by the remainder of their schedule against unranked opponents Western Carolina and Florida State. The Gators hope that #7 Arkansas can win its two remaining games over Mississippi State and LSU to reach the SEC Championship Game. A SEC title win against a one-loss Arkansas team, would add a quality win to the Gators resume, but even that might not be enough to pass USC or the Ohio State/Michigan loser in the standings.
Current odds on Florida at www.PinnacleSports.com
To win the National Championship +992
To play in the BCS Championship Game +480
The Fighting Irish are a distant fifth, and would need several breaks to have a shot. Not only will Notre Dame have to win on the road against #3 USC, they would also need Florida to lose one of their three remaining games.
Current odds on Notre Dame at www.PinnacleSports.com
To win the National Championship +2001
To play in the BCS Championship Game +850
Rutgers playing for the National Championship? It’s hard to put that in a sentence, but the Scarlet Knights could get the coveted #2 spot even though it’s a long shot. The “most likely” scenario being: Rutgers beats #8 West Virginia on the road, #3 USC loses to #15 Cal, USC then defeats #5 Notre Dame, #7 Arkansas beats #4 Florida, and the Ohio State/Michigan game is a blowout. Rutgers is ranked second by the computer rankings, but lack of name recognition, schedule strength and playing in the less-competitive Big East might foil their championship aspirations, even if they finish undefeated. Even with their perfect scenario, the loser of Ohio State/Michigan might still get invited to a rematch for the National Championship.
Current odds on Rutgers at www.PinnacleSports.com
To win the National Championship +2286
To play in the BCS Championship Game +800
With a win over lowly Mississippi State this weekend, the Razorbacks will clinch the SEC West and will face Florida in the SEC Championship Game. Before heading to Atlanta for the conference championship, Arkansas host the eleventh-ranked LSU Tigers, who are widely considered the best two-loss team in the nation. A victory over LSU, combined with an SEC Championship Game win over Florida, will give the Razorbacks two additional quality wins. While Arkansas needs a lot of help, a BCS Championship birth isn’t out of the realm of possibility. If all the contenders currently ranked ahead of Arkansas lose, it would be very difficult to omit a one-loss team that went undefeated in the toughest conference in the country from the Championship Game.
Current odds on Arkansas at www.PinnacleSports.com
To win the National Championship +1595
To play in the BCS Championship Game +900
The Ohio State/Michigan Loser
The top two teams in the nation currently stand head and shoulders above the competition in the BCS Standings. Several scenarios could unfold that result in a rematch of “The Game” for the National Championship on January 8th. For instance, if this weekend’s 103rd meeting between the Big Ten rivals is decided by a slim margin or comes down to a last second winning score, the losing team may not drop far enough in the rankings to be supplanted in the #2 spot. Even if the win is decisive, the other contenders all face major challenges on the remainder of their schedule that could easily result in a loss. While an Ohio State/Michigan rematch might be a nightmare for the NCAA, the current system doesn’t have any safeguards in place to prevent this from happening.
Current odds on Ohio State at www.PinnacleSports.com
To win the National Championship +108
To play in the BCS Championship Game -400
Current odds on Michigan at www.PinnacleSports.com
To win the National Championship +339
To play in the BCS Championship Game +194
What are our players betting this week at the Pinnacle Sports book?
Michigan +6.5 +106 v. Ohio State
Everywhere the Buckeyes go, they destroy. Only once in their 11 games have they won by less than 17 points. #1 ranked Ohio State has crushed its opponents with the combination of a stingy defense (allowing less than 8 points per game) and a Troy Smith-led offense, who now has 26 touchdown passes to just four interceptions.
Michigan opened as a 6.5-point underdog. With record-setting volume early in the week, the line has bobbled between +6.5 and +7. This is not the first time this year Michigan was an underdog going into a game – they were 5-point dogs to Notre Dame, before routing the Irish 47-21.
One reason for the higher trading in this game (aside from the obvious #1 v #2 match-up) is that different approaches to handicapping clearly favor different selections. In the BCS Computer rankings, 5 of the 6 programs rank Michigan #1, which would clearly favor playing the Wolverines plus the points. Most of these rankings weigh strength of schedule as much or more than the margin of victory.
Michigan has had the tougher schedule, making an 11-game stretch with no losses better on paper than Ohio State’s 11-0 run with more blowouts against slightly easier opponents. On the other hand, if you place a substantial weight on margin of victory, you might favor Ohio State instead.
California +6 -105 v. USC
Similar to the MI-OSU match-up, this game also has huge BCS implications. If the Trojans can win out, they will almost certainly play in the championship. The Bears opened at +3.5 -105, and USC backers quickly bet this up. The line spiked as high as -6.5 -105 before California money started flowing. While the sharps have not played this game, the public has favored USC by a 3:1 margin.
Indianapolis -1 -103 v. Dallas
Any undefeated NFL team with 6 or more wins will be a “public team” until they lose. The Colts this year (and last year) will continue to take public money, no matter how often they fail to cover, and no matter how often they barely squeak out another win. This week, the public has favored the Colts by an 8:1 margin. Despite the public backing, our opener of Indy -1 +100 has barely moved – the sharps (whose average wager size is much larger) are mostly on Dallas.
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