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College Hoops Sharp Play

We talk a lot about doing our own work handicapping and making our own plays. But we also talk a lot about the resources we have that indicate where sharp money is being bet. There was a college hoops game on December 23, 2018 that defied all explanation, as near as I can tell. The people who bet the right side got paid. But the vast majority of money bet on this game went to Money Heaven. Yet, for the life of me, I don’t know what the sharps saw in this line.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”
– Benjamin Franklin

Northern Colorado Bears and SIU-Edwardsville Cougars played the first game of the day in the Las Vegas Classic. The Bears opened as 13.0-point favorites, which was bet down to about 11.5 by game time. Sagarin Ratings suggested the opening line to be right on:

Sagarin Rating Rating W L Schedule Rank
159 Northern Colorado 72.06 4 4 73.54 (125)
333 SIU-Edwardsville 59.10 1 8 69.22 (272)

You will recall from reading this Premium article, adding Strength of Schedule to our handicapping regime, when one team plays the more difficult schedule, we add 1-point for every 50 point difference in the Rankings. Clearly, the Bears have played the more difficult schedule. And, according to Sagarin Ratings, were expected to win this game by 13 points. This contest was played on a neutral court, so we don’t add any points to either side for Home Court Advantage. The SOS difference is the equivalent of about 3.0 points. So, using this handicapping approach, the Bears would be expected to win by about 16.0 points.

SportsInsights.com showed the line opened as Northern Colorado -13.0 point favorites, with about 82% of the Spread Bets on the favorite. However, by game time, the line had moved down to Northern Colorado -11.5. Why in the world would the sportsbooks move the line DOWN 1.5 points when their liability was on the favorite? The expected line movement would have been to move the point spread UP to attempt to square the action. This was a clear example of Reverse Line Movement (RLM). For more on RLM, go back and review this Premium article.

I checked all the usual places…I checked for injuries to key Bears players…I checked news reports for anything that would indicate why the line would move DOWN. I found nothing except that the Bears were on a three-game losing streak, after opening the season with a six game winning streak. Perhaps it was confidence, or the lack thereof, that explains the line move? I really don’t know.

Anyway, I have been around this business a long time and I know a sharp play when I see one. I bet the Cougars, getting +12.0 points, as the photo above shows.

Final score: SIU-Edwardsville 82 Northern Colorado 72

Final result: CASH!

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