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Super Bowl 53 . . .
William Hill moved to Patriots -3 (-110) over Rams on Friday, joining Boyd Gaming and Station Casinos at the key number. Both of those books are dealing Pats -3 (EVEN)/Rams +3 (-120). Money line consensus is Pats -140/Rams +120. Over/Under 57.
For Super Bowl updates, Michael Lombardi and guest co-host Adam Lefkoe will kick off our programming day at 10 a.m. ET from the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City.
VSiN has collected more than 80 pages of props from books across Las Vegas in one downloadable package here. South Point and Caesars released more pages on Friday.
Fun fact from ESPN’s David Purdum: 88.9 percent of the early money on the coin-flip prop at Caesars is on heads.
That number is in line with what VSiN’s Vinny Magliulo has seen, too, as illustrated in his own coin-flip story about an infamous Las Vegas character.
Purdum tells the tale of how the Patriots became the Super Bowl favorites in minutes on Sunday — and the role an offshore book played in the process.
Super Bowl intermission . . .
The Super Bowl is still more than a week away, and I’m not falling in love with taking a chance on Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Orlando. So let’s put aside our football withdrawal and turn our attention to hoops, both pro and college.
Find out which teams got Brent’s attention. Full column here.
SEC vs. Big 12 . . .
Jeff Fogle writes:
Handicappers and bettors have a great opportunity today to study two major college basketball conferences head-to-head in a midseason preview of March Madness.
It’s the SEC vs. the Big 12 running day and night on the ESPN family of networks. Both of those conferences are likely to get about seven or eight teams into the NCAA tournament pending what happens down the stretch. There will certainly be a Dance feel to these three matchups in particular…
#9 Kansas at #8 Kentucky (ESPN, 6 p.m. ET): While it’s true both perennial powers have largely been missing from national championship discussions to this point in the season, it’s still a battle of teams currently slated as #2 seeds in Joe Lunardi’s “Bracketology.” As we discussed in Tuesday’s newsletter, Kentucky has been surging into great form.
#24 Iowa State at #20 Ole Miss (ESPN, noon ET): The Rebels have been the strongest point spread team in the nation (15-3 ATS right now, off a 14-1 ATS start). Iowa State is better respected in the computers than the polls. Both Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com) and Jeff Sagarin (USA Today) have the Cyclones in the top 18, while Ole Miss has been down in the 40-45 range recently. Great test for both at this site.
Alabama at Baylor (ESPNU, noon ET): A “bubble” battle between unranked teams who have no margin for error. Lunardi has had the Crimson Tide and Bears in the “first four out” category this week. The computers agree it’s touch and go for both. Expect peak intensity.
Unfortunately, disappointing seasons for a few teams have spiked some of the other matchups. No buzz now around West Virginia at #1 Tennessee, with the Mountaineers at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. Kansas State at Texas A&M isn’t what it could have been after the Aggies recent demise.
You probably know that the Big 12 has 10 teams, and the SEC has 14 teams. Amazingly, three of the four SEC “extras” are currently ranked. Worth checking out #16 Auburn at #25 Mississippi State (SEC Network, 8:30 p.m. ET) Also today, #25 LSU visits Missouri (SEC Network, 5 p.m. ET).
Today’s full slate will allow the numbers-minded to align their Power Ratings for these two conferences. Remember to allot 3 points for home-court advantage. Settled point spreads (after sharps have “sharpened” oddsmaker openers) will tell you the perceived neutral-court point difference between Kansas and Kentucky — whether Ole Miss is a true dark horse or a pretender — and whether there are potential sleepers amongst the unranked.
If you prefer “matchup” analysis for team skill sets, these games will let you see units forced to perform out of their comfort zones under a TV spotlight. Teams that maintain their composure on offense and get stops on defense will likely carry that ability into conference tournaments and the NCAAs (or the NIT). Those that fall apart will be tough to back when the pressure is even more intense in March.
Be sure you watch as many as possible, and read the postgame box scores as you prepare for market challenges that await you in February and March.
FYI: More on today’s slate from Matt Youmans on the VSiN.com home page.
Dave Tuley’s ATS report . . .
In Top 25 CBB: No. 5 Michigan routed Indiana 69-46: Wolverines easily covered as 4.5-point road favorites (stayed Under 133.5); No. 14 Buffalo beat Kent St. 88-79: Bulls also covered as 8-point road faves (went Over 162.5).
NBA underdogs 6-2-2 ATS with only outright upsets by Wizards (over Magic), Rockets (over Raptors) & Kings (over Grizzlies); Nets (-9 vs. Knicks) & Nuggets (-15 vs. Suns) only favorites to cover; Clippers (-5) & Mavericks (-5) pushed in wins; Unders 8-2.
Ron Flatter from the Pegasus Cup . . .
The $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational is America’s richest race, and the Ron Flatter Racing Pod is on the road at Gulfstream Park, Florida, to cover it. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas talks about his colt Bravazo and his chances to win the race. Jason Blewitt of Gulfstream Park TV and XBTV has a preview of the big race and the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf.
Ron checked in with Brent from the track on Friday to discuss the effects of what is expected to be wet conditions at Gulfstream.
Download the Xpressbet Wager Guide, which includes Brent’s analysis of the Pegasus Cup Turf here.
Seen & Heard on VSiN
Dennis Bernstein, senior writer for The Fourth Period, thinks Mitch & Pauly may need to consider betting NHL UNDERS after the All Star break.
"If you’re not a strong $50K player, I can’t get you a suite." Super Bowl weekend is the busiest time of the year for Las Vegas casino SuperHost Steve Cyr, who stops by to see Mitch & Pauly.
Listen to full segment on Follow The Money here for Steve’s advice for navigating the Las Vegas scene.
(When I came out to Las Vegas help start VSiN two years ago, I read Steve’s book Whale Hunt in the Desert and it definitely changed the way I saw Vegas.)
Gill Alexander and the RotoGrinders crew on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports Radio sort through all the Super Bowl prop wagers to find the biggest sucker bet.
Sirius XM NBA Host and longtime NBA columnist Mitch Lawrence breaks down the landscape of the Eastern and Western conferences with Matt Youmans and Erin Rynning on The Edge.
VSiN news you can use . . .
If you are coming to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, please join us for Betting & Buds with Brent on the Friday prior. Meet the VSiN crew for football talk and some beers. Details here.
Finally . . .
Did you see how we opened My Guys in the Desert on Friday? At the very least, we confirmed that John the Barber is, in fact, a barber if not a hockey handicapper.