Its early, but so far the early steam moves have held up for serious college basketball bettors, leaving bookmakers scrambling to get their numbers more solid before the fast-paced holiday tournaments start.
In some cases, the games getting hit the most frequently are second-day tournament games, where players can focus on a limited selection of contests, while oddsmakers are faced with getting lines up and accurate in under 24 hours.
While there are tens of 2- to 3-point swings on the college board in a given week, the early plays where lines are being shifted immediately can alert semi-proficient handicappers to significant and strong money being placed on a given side, especially on teams the general public seems less concerned with. Not to be confused with a side usually public favorite that just keeps getting steamed right up until tip-off.
Those following the biggest moves over the past two weeks have sacrificed plenty of extra points the early birds received, but in most cases the raised lines rarely came into effect.
Heres a look at this weeks television and other top matchups (home teams in CAPS):
Tuesday, Nov. 28
Duke versus Illinois has that March feel to it.
Wake Forest 76, MICHIGAN 64: Deacons opened with four straight wins, laying and covering in all three board games. Wolverines opened the season with the notable loss to Oakland before bouncing back to beat Western Michigan and Wagner at home in less-than-impressive fashion.
CLEMSON 57, Northwestern 52: Give the Wildcats a shot in a rugged game. NU lost at home as a favorite to Little Rock, but bounced back to win a pair against non-board teams with its usual deliberate effort. The Tigers covered in their 1-point loss at Seton Hall in their only board effort before beating The Citadel at home by eight last time out.
DUKE 83, Illinois 74: At Greensboro, caution here as Blue Devils have been steamed by the public three times already, covering two of four chances laying doubles. The Illini covered in the 3-point loss to Arizona in the Maui final with its last-minute 3-point blitz, hammered Maryland on the boards a night earlier as a 5-point dog in another Top 10 matchup.
IOWA 65, Georgia Tech 61: Iowa won, but failed to cover at home against Milwaukee and at Drake, while the Yellow Jackets seemingly took care of business against non-boarded early-season competition, including Charleston by 23. The home court might be enough here, though, as Tech takes to the road for the first time under its new coach.
Wednesday, Nov. 29
UNC-MSU highlights Day 2 of ACC-Big Ten event.
MICHIGAN STATE 85, North Carolina 77: Both come in 3-0, but the Tar Heels own the only spread win, as the teams have had a pair of boarded games apiece. The Spartans came up just short laying big numbers to cupcakes at their tournament over the weekend, while UNC has been laid off for 12 days since covering eight against Tulsa
VIRGINIA 75, Purdue 74: The climbing Boilers stunned top-ranked and jet-lagged Arizona as a double-digit dog at the Wooden Tradition after blowing the opener against Central Michigan. A letdown would seem a concern, while the Cavs covered 10 at Virginia Tech after blowing out Coastal Carolina at home.
Indiana 67, INDIANA STATE 61: The Hoosiers have failed three straight, including a 12-point loss to Texas just two days after 8-point loss to Temple. State got blown out of its opener at the Puerto Rico tournament before bouncing back to beat host AUPR and covering two points against Miami (Ohio).
WISCONSIN 69, Maryland 65: After their 10-point loss at Tennessee, the Badgers held off stubborn Northern Illinois last time out, failing to get the money as a 21-point favorite. The Terps looked poor over their final two starts at the Maui, failing in losses to Illinois and Dayton after they shot 61 percent in a win over Louisville.
N.C. STATE 67, PENN STATE 64: The Lions Crispin brothers out-bombed Kentucky at Rupp Arena, the Wildcats only second home-opening loss in 25 years. The Wolf Pack is 0-2 laying single digits against Fresno and Charlotte. N.C. State did bounce back by hammering Charleston on Saturday.
ARIZONA 86, Gonzaga 73: The Cats will look to re-focus after whirlwind travel sked that cost them the spot atop the ranking. Arizona covered its only opportunity when laying doubles to Dayton. The Zags, in the rare role of a dog here, covered their first two board efforts, laying doubles to Green Bay and Idaho.
UCLA 78, UC Santa Barbara 57: Attention will be focused on the Bruins efforts to rebound from the disastrous second half against Northridge. The Gauchos have covered in two double-digit dog roles so far despite going 0-3 straight up so far. Before losing to the Matadors, UCLA lost to Kansas and beat Kentucky in tight games on successive nights.
Thursday, Nov. 30
Owls-Redhawks not exactly high-flying matchup.
Temple 67, MIAMI (Ohio) 57: The Hawks covered as a dog against Xavier and Memphis, but are just 1-3 straight up entering this one. Temple was a bit of a surprise to those who steamed Duke up to minus-13 in their NIT matchup last week, but the Devils are up next for TU, so a look-ahead is quite possible.
KANSAS 92, Illinois St. 69: KU rocked Boise by 40 and is 3-0 against the number so far. The Redbirds are playing just their second game, having opened with a 42-point home win against Chicago State.
Brigham Young 57, SAN FRANCISCO 52: The Dons have been steamed in both their lined games so far, going 1-1 when laying a vary small number. The Cougars couldnt quite get the money as a 16-point favorite at home against Santa Barbara.
Saturday, Dec. 2
Temple gets another shot at Blue Devils in huge day of action.
FLORIDA 105, DePaul 92: These two already have a common opponent in Florida State, as the Gators rocked the Seminoles by 15 as a 9-point road favorite in their only start so far. The Blue Demons beat FSU by 6 in Alaska after getting steamed from an 8.5- to an 11.5-point choice after losing to Syracuse as a small favorite a day earlier.
SETON HALL 75, La Salle 59: The Explorers are 0-2 against the number so far, including a double-digit loss to Birmingham last time out after getting bet down from plus-7 to plus-4. The Pirates beat Clemson last weekend, but failed to cover four points in their first board effort.
INDIANA 68, So. Illinois 56: The Salukis were perfect against the number after three starts as a home favorite, but this is their first try as a road dog. The Hoosiers failed in their only effort laying doubles at home, an 8-point win as an 11.5-point choice against South Alabama.
WISCONSIN 71, XAVIER 57: The Musketeers must take the Badgers out of their game if theyre going to stay within the number in this spot. XU just missed in its season-opener, failing to cover in a 14-point win against Miami (Ohio).
ARKANSAS 74, Memphis 67: The Razorbacks are 0-2 against the number so far and dropped a home game to Southern Miss as a 10-point favorite before blowing out two non-board teams. The Tigers are 1-3 straight-up with losses to Temple, Stanford and Utah, where they landed on the number when getting three.
Oklahoma 69, OLE MISS 68: The Sooners have been strong with five-straight wins out of the gate, including three covers and a half-point failure laying doubles to Montana State. OUs near pickem game with Oregon State last Sunday was a rout. Ole Miss covered its only board game, winning by four in overtime as a 2-point choice against VCU.
UCLA 73, Georgia Tech 62: The Yellow Jackets make the trip to Anaheim for the Wooden Classic, where theyll try to control the tempo to keep it close. Early results were inconclusive, so teams early week games should give better indication.
ARIZONA 99, St. Marys (Calif.) 54: The Gaels are 0-4 straight-up, 0-3 versus the number, so the Wildcats could look to get the ball rolling again here. St. Marys has played a weak schedule and been beaten handily every time out.
NORTH CAROLINA 91, Kentucky 83: UK seems out of sync, going 0-3 against the number in its only board starts. UNC covered when laying singles to Tulsa, so an up-tempo game could give the edge to the Tar Heels.
Southern Cal 73, Utah 70: The Trojans were just 1-2 against the number to begin the week, but they covered when laying the shorter price (-10) than in a pair of spots laying 18 or more. The Utes lost as a 5-point favorite against Georgia before beating Memphis by three, but failing to cover by a half-point.
Duke 78, TEMPLE 74: An early-season rematch of the best game so far in the young season takes place at First Union Center. The Owls learned their tactics can work against the tireless Blue Devils, so Duke must get the pace going.
Tennessee 74, WEST VIRGINIA 65: The Mountaineers started 3-0, but played only one board team, covering doubles against American. The Vols opened with three straight-up wins, including a home cover against Wisconsin as an 8-point pick.
MICHIGAN STATE 91, Ill.-Chicago 52: This might be the spot for the Spartans to get the big number, but caution is MSUs failures when laying doubles in two recent starts. Flames, meanwhile, failed when getting 7.5 at Central Michigan, but got the money when getting 11 at St. Louis.
Illinois 77, KANSAS STATE 66: The Wildcats failed their first time out against the number, losing by 10 at Wichita State when getting minor steam from plus-2.5 to plus-1. The Illini failed in their only effort so far as a favorite, beating UNLV by five as a 10-point choice.
Stanford 82, LONG BEACH STATE 65: The 49ers have been busy in preseason, going 2-3 against the number. This is first try as a double-digit dog, as theyre 1-2 when getting the points so far this season. Stanford covered 19.5 against Old Dominion, but failed by a half-point as a 13.5-point choice to Georgia.
Maryland 80, Michigan 66: The Terrapins didnt back down inviting St. Johns to the B.B. & T Classic, but first had to get by the Wolverines at the MCI Center. Michigan is making its first trip out of the state.
Monday, Dec. 4
Miami not backing down from tough trip.
North Carolina 84, Miami (Fla.) 70: The Hurricanes still find themselves fighting for respectability. Thats why games like these are important to their program. UNC should be able to get the win and the number here, however, as the Tar Heels take advantage of the Monday made-for-TV trip by the visitors.