On face value, today’s 3-point Temple line as a favorite over visiting Cincinnati does not make much sense.
The Bearcats are 6-0 and ranked No. 20 in the latest AP poll and the Owls are 4-3 with some head-scratching losses.
The above paragraph is what we know. The first paragraph of this post is what Vegas knows.
Really, it’s hard to beat Vegas.
Trust me, I know.
Take last week’s games for instance, specifically the Temple game. It opened with Temple a 4.5-point favorite over a Navy team that had won 18 of its last 20 games at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
It did not matter to Vegas, which set the lines as it always does–not predicting a winner or loser per se but predicting which way the bets will come in and that’s why Vegas is so good. Temple was favored because Vegas had an inkling that the bets would come in Temple’s way and that’s exactly what happened. The point spread opened at 4.5 on Monday, went up to 5.5 on Wednesday and settled on 7 points just before the game started.
Temple won 24-17, a push.
That meant neither the people who bet on Temple nor the folks who bet on Navy won. That meant the house won and that’s really the goal of Vegas all along.
That doesn’t mean Temple will win 13-10 or 23-20 today, but that’s where the smart money is going. Vegas looks at a number of factors including the fact that Temple is 4-1 since a new starting quarterback took over and probably should be 5-0. It also looks at the fact that Cincy’s opponents are 13-25 and Temple’s are 24-23. Temple got a nice win at Navy, something Memphis–a team many consider better than Cincy–could not accomplish this season.
Is Vegas always right?
Err, no, but it’s amazing how much it is right. Last week, for instance, BC was a 14-point favorite over Louisville (it won by 18), Northern Illinois was a 4-point favored over Ohio (it won by 3), Virginia Tech was a five-point favorite at North Carolina (it won by three), Florida a seven-point favorite over Vandy (it won by 10).
And, of course, Temple nailed the line against Navy.
The games are played on the field but, every week, Vegas gives you that much reason to respect the amount of research it puts into each matchup. Of course, Vegas probably doesn’t put a lot of stock into the strange offensive proclivities of Dave Patenaude or its computers probably would blow a circuit or two.
Whatever, we can only hope they are right and Temple clicks on all cylinders today.
Tomorrow: Game Analysis