Josh Kendall

What Vegas Thinks: Win total for Gamecocks, plus USC-UNC betting line

South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier
South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier

David Purdum of ESPN Chalk will be joining us once again this season to talk about how Las Vegas feels about South Carolina and each week’s Gamecocks game. This week, we talk about the win total the sports books expect from South Carolina this season along with the line on the North Carolina game.

One of the themes from our perspective has been that nobody really knows what to expect from the Gamecocks. What does Las Vegas expect from the Gamecocks?

Vegas expects about 6.5 wins. That’s what their season win total has been projected at. They are big long shots in the national championship race, which is appropriate. They are 300-to-1 to win the whole thing. One of the longer, long shots listed. People have been betting a little bit more on the under (6.5 wins). They put odds on either side and you have to bet $11 to get $10 if you bet the under, whereas you get even money if you bet the over, so there’s been a little more action on under 6.5 wins. That seems awfully low.

So the market is not very high on the Gamecocks?

Correct. Obviously, this week is when we’ll start seeing the majority of the action. They get a little bit of a burst when they first come out, and these came out in mid-July. Any action that has come in so far, it has been on the under.

College football is upon us now and the South Carolina-North Carolina line has been steady since I have seen it with the Gamecocks as a three-point favorite, right?

Yeah, that’s what they are right now. There was a little bit of movement on that line at Caesar’s Palace. It dropped down to one at one point late last week, but it’s back to three. It’s a tough game, going up there on the road, first game with a team we don’t know a lot about.

What does that Caesar’s movement tell you?

That’s one of the only books that moved it. It was only at that book. That seems to me that some South Carolina fans went to Caesar’s, had a good time and moved the line a little bit.

We will know a lot more about the Gamecocks after they play the Tar Heels. Do you expect to see some big movement of the South Carolina numbers based on what happens Thursday night?

Oh yeah, because they are 300-to-1 to win the national championship. If they look impressive, I guess the opposite example would be last year with Texas A&M. They were 100-to-1 long shot to win the national title when they came to Columbia. They came in and looked so impressive that the next week they were at 25-to-1. So if South Carolina was to go out there and put together a great performance and really exceed expectations, you’d see some significant movement.

How much action does South Carolina draw in general? I would expect the SEC gets more betting attention than a lot of leagues.

There is not specific data (on individual team betting). You are right about SEC games because they are such high-profile games most of the time. They will generate some heavier action. Vegas seems to get a lot of action on Pac-12 teams because of its location. Southern Cal is a very popular bet in Vegas, and from the Midwest folks who are cold up there in Wisconsin and they come to Vegas in the winter or the fall to get a little warmth.

Will the fact that this is the first Thursday night game mean more action on this game?

Oh yeah, everybody will bet the first game. You have to bet the first game. It’s almost like a gambling rule. The first month overall, the handle, amount being wagered on football, is huge. And, I’ll add, the amount the books win is bigger than any other month. The win a higher percentage of these earlier games than they do later on.

Does that say that Vegas is just better prepared for the season than Joe Betting Public?

Joe Betting Public goes very heavy on this first month and suddenly he’s out of money and can’t be betting in October and November, so the field tightens and gets sharper. You are left with guys that are little bit better.