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The Alliance of American Football kicks off today, and VSiN is here to help.
Week 1 schedule: Orlando-5.5 (up from -4.5) vs. Atlanta, 8 p.m. ET; San Antonio -2.5 (down from -4.5) vs. San Diego, 8 p.m. ET; Birmingham -3 vs. Memphis, 4 p.m. ET; Arizona -4 vs. Salt Lake, 8 p.m. ET.
In case you missed it, Dave Tuley had an early scouting report on the league, especially some of the rules differences from the NFL that might affect your thinking.
Dave sent me his recommendations: San Diego +3, San Diego +4.5, Memphis +3.5. San Diego 10-1.
Some more advice from VSiN’s cast of characters . . .
VSiN senior editor Matt Youmans joined Mitch & Pauly early Friday to discuss how to play the AAF.
The Edge co-host Erin Rynning says the new league presents a great opportunity to make your mark if you are a new handicapper.
Also on The Edge, Westgate SuperBook manager Jay Kornegay, who went to San Antonio to watch some exhibition games, addressed the challenges of setting lines for a new league.
On My Guys in the Desert, Rich Rose, a former Caesars executive now with the AAF, explains the importance of Las Vegas bookmakers setting lines for the league’s games.
Jeff Fogle previews today’s marquee college basketball game . . .
Three weeks ago, #2 Duke beat #3 Virginia 72-70 at Cameron Indoor laying 3.5 points. Virginia hit a jumper at the buzzer to turn what would have been a four-point loss into a two-point loss, causing millions of dollars to change hands in worldwide betting markets.
A key category to monitor in today’s rematch (ESPN, 6 p.m. ET) will be free-throw attempts. Duke was actually outscored from the field back in Round 1:
Free Throws Jan. 19
Virginia 11 of 17
Duke 18 of 31
Scoring on 2s and 3s
Duke haters have long argued that the Blue Devils receive unfair favoritism from officials, particularly on its home floor. If attempts are more even this time around…or if Duke continues to clank a slight edge in attempts, we’re going to have a ballgame.
Though sports bettors love conspiracies (and the increase in legal betting has led to an increase in conspiracy chatter), it’s important for handicappers and bettors to realize that large free-throw differentials are typically caused by offensive aggression. Offenses that attack the rim will draw more fouls. Offenses that toss the ball around the arc hoping to get an open look on a three-pointer won’t.
Zion Williamson of Duke is a force of nature who has attempted 238 two-point shots this season, just 42 three-pointers. He’s going to keep drawing fouls. Duke is going to win the free-throw category in most games. Opponents who can get stops without fouling will have a shot to cover vs. the Blue Devils, or beat them outright.
As you approach the postseason betting extravaganza, it’s important to develop a sense of how contenders try to score. Too many “public” bettors watch a game to root for their bets, to root for a star player, or to yell at a coach. YOU need to be focusing on team skill sets, and how they influence big game results.
- Teams that attack the basket can score by getting to the rim for easy buckets, by drawing fouls that earn free throws (while also getting opponents into foul trouble), and by kicking it out of traffic to open three-point shooters. This helps iron out the randomness of long-range shooting, and creates blowout opportunities in front of refs who have a quick whistle.
- Teams that emphasize the three-pointer tend to have feast-or-famine results keyed by whether or not the bombs are falling. This can allow underdogs to score big upsets when they get hot. But it’s difficult for any team to stay hot from long range through 3-4 wins in a conference tournament, or six wins in the NCAAs.
If you’re a sports fan, you’re already watching a lot of games…and hopefully reading a lot of box scores. Try paying closer attention to what’s happening “inside the arc.” It will inform your betting strategy moving forward. Something to think about as you watch Duke/Virginia, Wisconsin/Michigan, Kentucky/Mississippi State, Villanova/Marquette, and other marquee showdowns today.
Dave Tuley’s ATS report . . .
NBA favorites went 7-1 SU & 5-3 ATS; only outright upset was Bulls (+8, +300 on ML) over Nets; Warriors (-17) & Pelicans (-6) were the 2 other faves that didn’t cover; Pistons -300 and Warriors -2000 both won as #tankapalooza plays; Overs 5-3.
Hurricanes beat Rangers 3-0 in only scheduled NHL game; game closed pick’em, though a few Vegas books had Carolina as slight road favorite of -115); stayed under 6; 1st Period stayed Under 1.5; no #FollowtheMoney5 teams were in action
Finally . . .
Harvard’s win over Columbia included all this (video):
– Buzzer-beater 3 to force OT
– Buzzer-beater 3 to force 2OT
– Clutch 3 to force 3OT
Alan Boston: Columbia belongs in "stupid Hall of Fame" for not fouling when ahead by 2 points . . . THREE TIMES.
Stanford Steve: "Craziest Game I’ve Seen All Season"