• Buy low, sell high. Three is a key number in both the NFL and NCAA, and we are getting Baylor at +3.5 right now.
• After hanging around in Ann Arbor, Michigan State is getting 16.5 against an Illinois defense yet to face an offense of the Spartans' pedigree.
• Massachusetts isn't a good team, but the Minutemen are getting more than a two-TD head start against UConn team coming off emotional — and lucky — upset of Boston College.
Last updated: Oct. 31, 3:00 p.m.
Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Week 10 might not be the perfect time to debut our article that aims to identify underrated teams, as the market has a lot of information available in rating them that it did not necessarily have a few weeks earlier.
Still, there are spots where we can find inefficiencies in the opening lines and capitalize on information that the market either might have missed or isn't yet aware of. Our goal here is obtaining closing line value by finding betting lines early in the week that are likely to move. Consistently beat the line, and the results will follow.
Identifying buy-low (betting market moving too much on a team coming off a big loss or bad performance) and sell-high (market overvaluing a performance) spots is one of the best ways to find value in a line early in the week, and teams coming off an unexpected, potentially program-defining win over a Power 5 school is one of those spots.
Tulane’s Week 3 win over Kansas State was followed up by a loss to Southern Miss as two-TD favorites. Appalachian State needed a last-second touchdown to get through Troy as two-TD favorites a week after beating Texas A&M. Middle Tennessee got blown out by UTSA after beating Miami. And one slightly outside of the aforementioned bracket of P5 teams, Marshall lost straight up to Bowling Green a week after surprising Notre Dame.
There are other similar examples this week:
Massachusetts (+15.5) @ Connecticut
• Reason to believe the Huskies could underperform market expectations vs Mass: In addition to a likely emotional letdown, Connecticut's 13-3 upset of Boston College included some luck. The Eagles out-gained the Huskies 335-280 yet managed more turnovers (4) than points (3). Turnover luck is something that regresses to mean for everyone over time, and although it might not happen immediately, it's certainly possible.
• The Minutemen are not a good team, but their defense has been solid enough: As it prepares to face a one-dimensional offense (UConn runs the ball almost 70% on first and second down) in a game with a low total of 40.5 in which UMass is getting more than a two-TD head start.
current consensus line is Massachusetts +15.5, with some +16 available by shopping around.
Michigan State (+16.5) @ Illinois
• Michigan State is another team getting more than two touchdowns (+17) in a buy-low spot at Illinois: According to the final score, the Spartans were firmly beaten by rival Michigan. But they hung around in that game — which was 19-7 in the fourth quarter — and will be the best offense Illinois has faced so far this season.
• Illinois also was situationally lucky last week: The Illini were down 9-6 to Nebraska when Casey Thompson was injured in the second quarter, and the Huskers could not muster any offense with their backup QB. Again, Michigan State is the best offense that Illinois will have faced, and with a total as low as 42.5, giving up 17 points will be tough.
The market moved a lot Sunday through Monday (from 10 to 17), but that looks like an overcorrection, and I would expect some buy back before kickoff.
Baylor (+3.5) @ Oklahoma
• With some flukey losses making their 5-3 record deceptive, Baylor is getting more than a field goal vs Oklahoma: Penalties cost the Bears heavily against BYU, and although their loss against West Virginia looks bad, they were up by a touchdown when their QB got knocked out of the game. Baylor's backup QB then directed back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter resulting in turnovers — first a fumble, then an interception inside the West Virginia 20-yard line.
• The Sooners have been fortunate, not very good without ‘luck’ on their side: They allowed 42 points to Kansas with a backup QB after back-to-back blowout losses against TCU and Texas. Oklahoma was out-gained by Iowa State last week yet won by two touchdowns, thanks largely to winning the turnover battle, 3-1. Buy low, sell high. Three is a key number in both the NFL and NCAA, and we are getting Baylor at +3.5 right now.
It is tough to move the market through a key number like this, but there has already been a small buy from four down to three at a sharp book, so the 3.5 available with softer books is likely to follow suit.