Fishing in Lockness Week #11 – College Edition

by dave on November 15, 2012

My Vegas condo agreement requires me to publicly tout gambling picks for the week. I can’t GUARANTEE A FIVE STAR LOCK OF THE MILLENIUM, YOU ARE A COMMUNIST TRANSVESTITE IF YOU DON’T BET ON THIS but I can identify the games that seem to me to have an essence of Lockness about them, which smells like a mix of algae, brackish water and lizard breath.

Also, I am totally welcoming of all communists. Transgendered, transvestite or other.

There are many things that separate pro gamblers from amateurs.

Pros develop a system to identify the appropriate line for a game rather than just look at a line and think ‘I think team A can win by more/lose by less than that.’

When betting on a game, a pro continues to lay bets until the line adjusts beyond his comfort zone. An amateur will lay his one bet and move on to the next game.

One of the big ones though is the breadth of the bets being laid. Where a pro only targets the games in which he sees a bad line, an amateur – often in Las Vegas for only a weekend – will throw money at anything and everything that looks even remotely interesting; whether as individual bets or grouping them into a parlay with low probability and high pay out.

But this raises an interesting question: what does a pro do when there aren’t any lines with obvious value? My assumption is that their window just shrinks. Where they may have targeted games with a line 1-2 points off of their personal power ranking before, they may drop to .5 if it gets across a key number. Or maybe they slice and dice the data until the find something resembling some sort of value.

I raise this existential question, to which I don’t have a good answer for one simple reason: I don’t really like any games this weekend.

At this point in the week, I have typically laid most if not all of my college bets; jumping on games early in the week if I am afraid the line will move away from me. I will have 3-4 individual game tickets sitting on the sideboard of my condo, along with at least one tease. This week, I have only bet a college tease and pro tease to date.

We are that point in the season where I have seen enough of most teams to raise doubts. The sports books have seen enough of each team to refine the lines even more than usual. There is just little out there that made me jump up on Monday and run down to the betting window.

And, for the record, this is coming off one of my best weeks of the year betting college so it isn’t like I am lacking in confidence right now. I should feel like Johnny Manziel preparing to take on Sam Houston State, yet I feel more like whoever Maryland’s 5th string quarterback/linebacker is preparing to face FSU.

But I am here to bet, so bet I will. If you dig deep enough there might be just a little value out there after all.

Lockness #1 – Florida Atlantic (-1.5) vs Florida International

This is one game I am kicking myself for not betting on Monday when it opened at FIU -1.  I didn’t bet it for the stupidest of reasons. I was looking for FAU in the list of Saturday games and didn’t see this scheduled for Friday night (on a different section of the board). I literally overlooked this match-up and now the line has moved over 2 points against me.

Reason #4,867 I could never be a pro gambler.

I still like FAU though, for the simple reason the line remains nearly a pick-em at home. FAU may have a bad record (3-7) but they are quietly playing well above Vegas’ continued expectations – even out-right beating former darling Western Kentucky last week. FAU is 8-2 against the spread this season and riding a streak of at least 7 straight covers. FIU came into the season with the hype of a Sun Belt contender but sit at 2-8 on the season and only 4-6 against the spread. This line feels like FIU is still getting too much credit for their coach and pre-season hype – Donbest projects FAU -4 in their power rankings – so give me the Owls in a battle of greater Dade County.

Lockness #2 – Louisiana Tech vs Utah State OVER (73)

Another line that has moved significantly since it opened (at 69.5) that I wish I had looked more closely at on Monday. In fairness, I am horrendous at picking Over/Unders and generally avoid them. But combine little value in spreads and the fact that I nailed last week’s Baylor/Oklahoma game (by an angina inducing .5 points), here I am trying to continue to ride the hot streak.

These may be the 2 best non-Automatic Qualifying school offenses in the country. Utah State averages over 30 points per game and this would be higher if not for the strange 6-3 contest against BYU. Louisiana Tech averages nearly 60 at home. While the Utah State defense is respectable, the Louisiana Tech is bad, giving up on average around 30 points themselves.

I see this game being similar to the Louisiana Tech/Texas A&M game from earlier this season, in which neither defense even remotely slowed the other and the Aggies finally won 59-57 in the final moments. This game doesn’t need to be quite that high though to still cover. Anything above 38-35 or 42-31 nets a win.

Lockness #3 – Tease of the Week: Iowa State (PICK) at Kansas, Louisiana Tech (+9.5), Northwestern (+13) at Michigan State

Naturally the one bet I did lay on Monday has moved against me, meaning I left value on the table (which should probably just be the headline of this post). You can now get Northwestern teased to +14 and Iowa State teased to +1.

But I am comfortable with the bets as they lay. I am happy to have Iowa State as a pick against Kansas. Admittedly Kansas has played better lately – taking Texas and Texas Tech to the wire before losing but they are still Kansas and they are still coached by Charlie Weis. I will ride with Paul Rhodes against Weis any day.

As mentioned above, I think Louisiana Tech/Utah State will be a shootout. With the Bulldogs offense, it is hard to see Utah State pulling away in Ruston and winning by 2 scores.

I like Northwestern for the simple fact that Michigan State’s offense is not good (It’s true! I looked it up on the internet). No Michigan State game has been decided by more than 4 points since they played Eastern Michigan in September. After a long string of tight games, the Spartans are really going to blow out Northwestern by 2 touchdowns?

Lockness #4 – Hail Mary of the Week: West Virginia Moneyline (+330) vs Oklahoma

We’ve all been there. Bets have been going against us all day. Down to one last bet, it just isn’t worth trying to win less than double our money because when you are trapped at the bottom of a well, 3 feet off the ground is still deep in the well. We need the big score to get back. We could look for a parlay and hope 5 or 6 things all break our way or we can find one highly improbable thing that might, maybe, possibly, could happen and go all-in on it. This is the ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency’ bet in the sports book.

Remember back when we thought West Virginia might be one of the best teams in the country? Ahh, we were so young and innocent back then.

West Virginia’s defense was ultimately their doom and once teams found a way to disrupt the passing attack of Geno Smith and his receivers, the season was over for the Mountaineers. They have now lost 4 straight in Big 12 play. What was once a national title contender is hoping against hope for an invite to the Insight Bowl.

In essence, this game is the Mountaineers season. At home, at night against a top twenty team that has pretty clear flaws. The Sooners have been shocked twice this season by less talented teams (sorry, Notre Dame and Kansas State it is true). Landry Jones has plateaued as a quarterback and his wide receivers have never demonstrated their outlandish talent.

Last week the Sooners struggled to contain another high powered spread offense from Baylor, ultimately winning 42-34. But that was in Norman during the day. Going into Morgantown, playing against a desperate and talented team that wants to make a statement that they can play with teams outside the Big East, is a dangerous proposition for any team.

It will be easy for the Sooners to come in seeing that Mountaineer defense and feel confident in a victory. When your two losses are to the #1 and #3 teams in the country it is easy to feel that way.

A gam that before the season was supposed to be the battle for the Big 12 title is now just a trap that the Sooners could fall into.

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