If choosing to be in Las Vegas this week and you happen to like sports, you might not have been able to pick a better week to visit. The lineup of events is absolutely insane from Tuesday through Sunday.
The sports books around town couldn’t have scripted a better one if they tried, because there is something for everyone no matter where you’re from. Between huge college football games that will mold the BCS puzzle into better form, a week 10 NFL schedule on Sunday with some great matchups, and a nightly lineup of NBA and NHL games, that should be more than enough to keep bettors from all over happy enough.
There are bonus attractions this week, such as 50 college basketball games tipping off their season on Friday. There’s Sunday’s NASCAR race from Phoenix and Champions League proper football group stage matches on Tuesday and Wednesday to accommodate our European guests’ betting needs. This just might be the greatest week of all-time in Las Vegas for the sports bettor.
Okay, so I may be a little overdramatic, but the games being played this week seem like they’re a little higher octane than usual. Maybe it’s like this every year on the second weekend of November and the build-up to some of these big games, like No. 3 Oregon (-10) at No. 5 Stanford on Thursday or Saturday’s tilt in Tuscaloosa where No. 11 LSU is getting 11½ points to No. 1 Alabama, is always this high.
The great thing about the college football schedule this week is all the key games aren’t just happening on Saturday. Oregon at Stanford (+10) is one of two monster games Thursday, with the other being No. 10 Oklahoma getting 14 at No. 6 Baylor. I can’t remember ever seeing two college football games as big during the regular season on a Thursday night.
And while the Thursday night NFL action between the Redskins (-2½) and Vikings doesn’t have the same theatric value as the college duo, it will still be the most bet game of the day. On the same night, the NBA offers some interesting matchups with the Clippers at Miami and the Dwight Howard show in Houston welcoming his old team, the Lakers.
And that’s just Thursday.
Friday rolls around with all those college hoops games with one of the highlights being No. 5 Kansas in action at home against UL-Monroe. The game figures to be a rout, but will mark the college debut of next year’s likely No. 1 NBA Draft pick, Andrew Wiggins, who has been touted as the best prospect in 10 years coming out of high school. Wiggins is the player many NBA teams have lessened their expectations to win this year for the right to get lucky with one ping-pong ball in the lottery.
For the majority of college football fans, and those who believe the SEC has the best to offer, Saturday is the day you have been waiting for all season as LSU and Alabama hook up. If Alabama wins, they’re almost home free for another birth into the BCS title game. There is still a big game at Auburn on Nov. 30, but their path is pretty clean.
The LVH Super Book currently has Alabama as the 3-to-2 favorite to win the BCS Championship, a number that will surely drop if they beat LSU. The Golden Nugget’s Tony Miller had this game all figured in early June when he opened spreads on the College Football Games of the Year with Alabama opening -11½.
If having the foresight that Baylor would be as good as they are, you could have had +6 with them instead of laying -14 this week. Oregon was also -4 in June, and are pushing -10.5 now.
If you have enough stamina and cash left for Sunday, there are three outstanding games. The top one is Carolina visiting San Francisco, where the 49ers are 6-point favorites. They are two of the hottest teams in the league over the past month with resumes very similar over that stretch.
The 49ers have won and covered their last five and come off a bye. They have scored 31 points or more in each of the games with four of the five going OVER the total. The Panthers have won and covered their last four and have scored 30 points or more in each with an average score of 33-12 over that stretch. However, none of those teams beaten by Carolina or San Francisco lately were very good. The 49ers best win was at Tennessee while the Panthers finest victory came last week against the two-win Falcons.
The other great matchups Sunday have Denver as 7-point road favorites at San Diego and the Cowboys getting +7 at New Orleans in the NBC night game. The Saints have covered all four games at home while the Cowboys are 7-2 ATS, including three of four on the road.
Congratulations on picking such a huge weekend sports weekend to be in Vegas. Pick some winners, and most of all, get some rest before Thursday. Although, having a few pints on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon is inevitable when watching Juventus/Real Madrid or AC Milan/Barcelona square off.
Books win Sunday: Last week the Las Vegas sports books took a pounding when most of the popular public teams covered the number. It was their first losing Sunday of the season, but when the bettors tried to cash in again with some of those same teams in Week 9, the books scooped most of the chips.
The teams that had the most lopsided parlay action Sunday the type that do the most damage to the books due to high paying odds, were the Cowboys (-9), Saints (-6½), Seahawks (-16½), Ravens (-2) and Panthers (-9). Of those five teams, only the Panthers covered the number which made the books liability drop immensely going into the late game. Colts-Texans wasn’t a huge decision or at least in comparison to Week 8 when the Packers’ blowout win at Minnesota crushed the books.
When the books have a good day against the public, it usually means that the sharp bettors did well. The public loves to lay favorites, while the sharps always like to go against those same overpriced teams and taking the value with the underdog. The one case where the sharps and public were on the same side was Carolina, bumped up from a 7½-point favorite up to -9 by kickoff. The Panthers easily beat the Falcons, 34-10.
The books have been able to avoid the monster losing days this season just because the teams at the top are getting harder to read for everyone. Just when you think the Seahawks are the best team, their rating has been too inflated and they have failed to cover four of their last five. Just when you think Tom Brady is at the end of his run, he puts 55 points on the board against Pittsburgh. Denver has failed to cover three of their last four due to an over-inflated rating, but also have had the one unblemished betting record in going OVER the total in all eight games.
When the bettor starts to think more and change up their regular strategy, the books have gained a small edge just because of indecision and second guessing. The Broncos and Seahawks will still be bet upon no matter what the number is, but instead of 80 percent of the public on one side, it drops to 70, which in turn limits risk on them.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].