Each week during the college football season, renowned Las Vegas wiseguy and Covers Expert Bruce Marshall looks at the NCAAF odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Spread to bet now
Indiana Hoosiers at Wisconsin Badgers (-21)
A handful of sharps were able to jump in quickly and pound the Wisconsin side from its very early -18.5 price. But we suspect this appetite for the Badgers is not going to be limited to sharp money.
Indeed, expect the public to rush the sports book windows in Las Vegas and unload on Wiscy with both fists as the week progresses. Especially when noting some recent spread trends which are illuminating as well action-inducing.
Specifically, the Badgers have won and covered the last three meetings vs. IU, but just saying “won” and “covered” don’t do those efforts justice, as the Badgers have scored a whopping 68 ppg in those feasts upon the Hoosiers.
In fact, the last time an IU team beat Wisconsin, George W. Bush was still early in his first term as president (2002). Since 2005, Wisconsin’s win margins in this series are 17, 35, 30, 35, 3 (in 2009, the Hoosiers’ lone cover vs. Wiscy since 2006), 63, 52, and 48 points!
Trends like those, and Wisconsin’s current spread prowess (8-1 vs. line this season), plus HC Gary Andersen’s recent pointspread exploits (now 19-3 vs. the line since last season with Utah State and the Badgers) suggests it will be one-way traffic at the sports books.
By the end of the week, Wisconsin’s price likely threatens the next “key” number at 24, and the current 21s could seem like a bargain.
Spread to wait on
Michigan Wolverines at Northwestern Wildcats (-3)
There was quick movement on this number that was originally posted at Michigan -1, as the sharps quickly jumped in and hammered Northwestern up to as much as a 3-point favorite at a handful of Nevada sports books.
We suggest that will be the only move in the Wildcats’ direction, as the public will now dictate the next price moves. It is very doubtful that any more sharp money comes in on the Northwestern side, considering the Cats’ five straight losses.
Of course, the Wolverines are looking like no bargain at the moment, with some suggesting that HC Brady “Chris Christie” Hoke might be on the hot seat. But it’s still Michigan, and the optics of seeing the Wolverines as a dog against the Wildcats could still strike an odd chord with the public.
The public is not going to move this price beyond three, indeed we expect it to drop closer to pick ‘em by kickoff. Northwestern backers might as well wait for some better value later this week.
Total to watch
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Baylor Bears
Baylor totals continue to generate quite a curiosity factor, but we wonder how the oddsmakers will react to only the second clear Bears Under of the season last week vs. Oklahoma.
Once again, there was appetite on the Over for last week’s game vs. the Sooners, as early totals at 72.5 or thereabout were bet up to as much as 75.5 at several Las Vegas books. Which has been the pattern of Baylor totals this season. No matter how high-priced by the oddsmakers, there is still an Over appetite in the marketplace.
But after falling so far beneath (53) last week vs. the Sooners, we wonder how the public will react to another total likely to be priced in the 70s vs. uptempo Texas Tech, 7-2-1 O/U itself this season.