Josh Kendall

Las Vegas has ‘a lot of respect for South Carolina right now’

South Carolina is favored to win for the first time this season as it prepares to face Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Gamecocks are 6.5-point favorites against the Wildcats, who have beaten South Carolina three years in a row. We talked this week to ESPN.com’s David Purdum, who covers sports gaming, about what this line means about the perception of the Gamecocks.

Is the line an indication that Kentucky is really bad or that South Carolina is starting to change some minds?

A little bit of both. There is a lot of respect for South Carolina right now. That line opened at 5.5 at the Wynn and got bet all the way up to seven, which is a pretty big early move to get up to that key number of seven. It dropped back down to 6.5. It feels like one of those games where the public is going to continue to bet South Carolina. If the books decide to make that line go up to seven, you’ll see the sharp players probably grab Kentucky. Mark Stoops has been really bad in SEC play so far, so those are some interesting trends to look at going forward.

How do the sharps handle teams like South Carolina that get hot?

They were probably behind the move when it was below six or seven. They grab that because they see South Carolina exceeding expectations so far this year, winning impressively, so they probably bet it up right until it got to that seven. As soon as they could get that seven, they almost hedge their bets and play that other number with Kentucky. South Carolina, a couple guys I talked to down in Vegas this week say they are one of the teams that has been most surprising for them.

Does that make it difficult for the sports books when they have to change their thinking during the season?

You are going to see bigger, more aggressive adjustments to power ratings and their odds early in the season. Come October, three, four, five games into the season, you won’t see line moves as big or as big adjustments in the power rankings. But right now they are being forced to significantly adjust their power rankings, and when you make a really big adjustment it is a lot of guess work.

Is there any interesting movement on the Clemson-Louisville line?

That was a weird one. There were early lines up on that before the season started and it was a pick ’em. I was talking to some people and I didn’t think there would be that much change in it, but then Clemson opens as a three-point favorite. I thought that was really surprising and several odds makers did, too. They thought this was going to be Louisville minus-1 or a pick ’em, but then for it to come out Clemson minus-3, that stunned some people, including myself.

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