South Carolina is a 2.5-point favorite over Vanderbilt for Saturday’s game in Nashville, Tenn. The Gamecocks have won nine in a row over the Commodores and have been favored in every game during that streak.
They are just 4-4-1 against the spread during the streak, and this year’s line is the second-smallest in this series since at least 1998 (the last year for which reliable and complete data is available). We talked to ESPN.com gambling writer David Purdum about what all this means.
What kind of movement have you seen on this line?
It opened as high as three but started ticking back down almost everywhere. It got down to as low as 1.5 and ticked back up to where it’s sitting now. The standard home field advantage (being three points) is kind of a myth. I guess it would be lazy odds making. The guys that really take is seriously and really break it down, they will tell you that the only true home field advantage is places like Wyoming where there’s altitude. If you go into Death Valley on Saturday night, that would be some, too, obviously. They just don’t put much stock in that. I would not think that there’s much home field advantage at Vanderbilt.
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So this line means that the Gamecocks are still ahead of Vanderbilt in the odds makers’ power rankings, right?
They are favored on the road, which definitely indicates that the powers rankings in Las Vegas have South Carolina higher than Vanderbilt. I bet the gap has narrowed now, but I would I think South Carolina still is a tier or two above. When South Carolina got blown out, it kind of deflated some of the expectations for them, and I think also Vanderbilt was impressive in the second half against Notre Dame. I definitely think there is some respect for Vanderbilt there.
South Carolina is a 1,000-to-1 to win the national title. Could a Gamecocks fan go to Las Vegas and bet $1 on that just for fun?
Five dollars typically is your minimum wager over the counter at Las Vegas. Some of the new sports books that you see popping up are taking very small dollar bets. That’s going to be one of the interesting trends as we get these new operators.
But the futures bets are not good odds for the bettors, are they?
The house edge is pretty significant. The house edge that is built into the futures market is 20 to 30 percent, whereas your house edge in straight, single-game wagers is 10 percent. Futures bets are very lucrative for the sports book. They almost always put themselves in position by managing it where they almost win on every team.