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Mid-Major Money Makers
by Scott Spreitzer - 10/16/2006
So much attention is paid to the national TV games and the BCS race, that you can often find some great winning opportunities in the leagues that are under the radar.
I've found over the years that the best places to find really HUGE errors are with mid major teams who haven't been on TV.
*The Sun Belt conference, because those teams are never on TV.
*Conference USA teams that haven't been on TV yet, not including Southern Miss.
*Mid-American conference teams that haven't been on TV yet.
*WAC teams that haven't been on TV in marquee windows.
There are a few of us in Las Vegas who focus on those leagues in football, and similar conferences in college basketball. We figure we're going to have much bigger edges there than in the games that are loaded down with prominent media coverage.
In the past month, surprising pointspread slumps by UTEP of CUSA and Fresno State of the WAC have made this point very clearly. Because these teams have gained respect from oddsmakers and wagerers in recent seasons, they were consistently overpriced during slumps.
If UTEP had been on TV at some point this season, maybe somebody would have noticed. If Fresno State hadn't just been playing in games of regional interest, maybe somebody would have seen that the team had totally lost its confidence.
Given the context of recent games played by these teams, the size of the pointspread misses were astounding. Not only did they miss expectations, but the money was coming down heavily on those teams. They couldn't take advantage of edges most everyone assumed they had.
* FRESNO STATE had a bye week to recover from tough losses to Oregon and Washington (who are both decent teams this year). Instead of using that to set up a peak performance at home against Colorado State , the Bulldogs lost 35-23 as a 13-point favorite. They missed the spread by 25 points.
The next week, when they surely should have had a chip on their shoulder, Fresno lost to a truly awful Utah State team 13-12 as 27-point favorites. That's a miss by 28 points. In back-to-back weeks, Fresno State missed the spread by a total of 53 points! This past Saturday's loss was the most humiliating, dropping a 68-37 tilt to Hawaii, while getting just 4 points. A spread miss by 27!
*UTEP had a bye week to recover from a heartbreaking loss to Texas Tech. It was assumed they'd have no trouble with struggling New Mexico after that break. Instead, the Miners lost 26-13 as a 9-point favorite. That's a 22-point miss from expectations. And again, the expectations were really higher because there was a lot of money on UTEP in the bounce back spot.
The next week, when they should have been breathing fire after a pair of straight up losses, they barely held on to beat New Mexico State 44-38 as a 16-point favorite. That was a double digit miss from expectations.
On October 7, the money POUNDED the guys from El Paso all day when news broke that SMU had suspended its starting quarterback. SMU didn't have a backup with any experience, so UTEP went from being a 10-point favorite to a 14-point favorite. They only won by three! This team, that's supposed to contend for the CUSA title managed a 24-21 win over a team that didn't have a quarterback. That's a total miss of 43 points over the three games.
This is what I mean about the SIZE of the edge for sharp wagerers in these conferences. If you're in synch with what's going on at these programs, you'll be winning your bets by two, three, and even four touchdowns.
I've cherry-picked two prominent teams that had been making headlines the last two seasons. If you dig deeper, you'll find some amazing misses with lesser known teams that you had probably been ignoring. I strongly suggest you do that digging. How else are you going to find the buried treasure?
Will UTEP and Fresno State continue to struggle all season? Good coaches usually find a way to fix problems, but Fresno is very slow on defense and their confidence is shot. Not a good combination heading to Baton Rouge this week. UTEP still has plenty of time to get things rolling in CUSA play. They're 2-0 in conference action and 4-2, overall. Just make sure you see improvement happening before you bet on it.
I can't tell you how much whining I heard back on October 7th from people who had loaded up on either or both of these teams figuring blowouts were imminent. If they had been studying what the teams had been doing in prior weeks, they could have avoided that disaster. The oddsmakers were wrong about these teams, but the sportsbooks still made money on the games because the general public was even more wrong!
Diligent homework will allow you to avoid these traps!