A weird start to the College Basketball Season

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This schizo college hoops season, of regular cancellations and opponent switches, has almost been business as usual for professional bettor Ron Boyles.

“I’ve approached it pretty much like I do any season,” he said. “If a game isn’t played, it isn’t played. You get a refund. It isn’t a big deal.” 

But he does note some exceptions.

At the Westgate, they actually have a little disclaimer by each game. It says, ‘Wherever played, you’ve got action.’ I have adjusted home courts. The emotional energy home teams used to have — now, with empty arenas … ”

Empty barns contributed to Kentucky losses to Richmond and Notre Dame, and Duke defeats — and requisite Coach K whining — to Michigan State and Illinois. San Diego State suffered a 10-point belting inside its Viejas Arena by BYU last Friday. The Show does not have to go on, not in California.

UCLA, though, is 4-0 inside Pauley Pavilion, with a trouncing of fellow Pac-12 member California and a fantastic final 10 minutes against Marquette.

A professional bettor who left Pennsylvania on a Greyhound bus for Las Vegas to launch his career in 1981, Boyles, 60, has been with friends and family in West Virginia most of this year. The man whom legendary Vegas oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro decades ago nicknamed “Skinny” has five app betting options in the hollers of the Mountain State, and he’s tackling home sites on a case-by-case basis.

“Travel still is a major factor,” said Boyles. “Probably even more now than before, because of all the things you have to go through. Teams traveling a far distance, I downgrade them a little bit.”

Upper classmen and roster continuity register highest among factors he monitors.

“Does a team have a bunch of transfers and freshmen, who haven’t been able to play or practice through all of this?” he asked rhetorically. “Those teams are up against it. A team with everybody back, they played together last season and they know each other. That’s the biggest edge I see.

“Teams with many players back against teams that are trying to implement an entire new team, that’s a pretty significant edge, in my opinion.”

In that vein, Boyles will continue to examine the Atlantic 10 Conference, specifically Duquesne, Richmond, St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis, programs filled with upper classmen who know each other’s games and idiosyncrasies.

“Those are the teams that have most everybody back from last season, and those are the teams I’ll be looking to bet on.”

An inquiry about Iowa — which features Luka Garza fueling a high-powered offense that lost to Gonzaga, 99-88, in South Dakota last weekend — made Boyles pause.

“My goodness, their offense is so good. But they are not a good defensive team. (Coach Fran) McCaffrey’s teams have never been good defensively. In Big Ten play, Iowa is a team I’ll be looking to bet against.”

Finally, Boyles executed a wager on Dec. 15, that serves as a model of his experience and a lesson for greenhorns. At FanDuel, he found Bryant giving 5.5 points to Wagner the following day. The Westgate SuperBook had Bryant -12. Boyles’s information dictated that giving 5.5 was the optimal play. He pulled the trigger, never pondered middling that action by taking Wagner and double digits. It settled at most shops at Bryant -10.5.

Bryant won, 74-62.

“I was getting tons of the best of it, in my opinion,” said Boyles. “To just bet that to try to middle it, now you’re just giving back a big plus EV (Expected Value) at -5.5 on something that’s 12, the market value.

“If Bryant wins by 13 or more, I’ve just given away a huge position at -5.5. I not only don’t win, I lose the juice. I literally gave it away for no reason.”

Friday

Iowa -5 at Minnesota, Total 169: Both teams’ games out of the gate combined to go 13-2 to the Over. The Gophers are 7-1 and have an impressive eight-point victory over Saint Louis. MINNESOTA and OVER

Wisconsin at Michigan State, Total 143: Fewer than 128 points have been scored between these two in their past five meetings, and they’ve failed to combine for 138 in their past seven duals. ­UNDER

Sunday

Drake -1 at Indiana State: The Bulldogs, full of upperclassmen, belted Kansas State by 10 to open their season, then mowed down their next seven foes by a combined 195 points. The favorite in this one flipped for a reason. DRAKE

Last week: 3-1

Season: 7-3

About the Author
Rob Miech

Rob Miech

Rob Miech is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today, covering soccer and producing sports betting features. He has written about college hoops for the Las Vegas Sun, CBS SportsLine and the Pasadena Star-News. He is the author of four books, including Sports Betting for Winners.

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