Oddsmakers took note of Badgersâ€™ blowout win
Apparently, all those points Wisconsin slapped on the scoreboard during the Big Ten championship are worth a point or two in its next game — on a betting line, at least.
That’s the word from John Avello, executive director of race and sports operations at The Wynn, a Las Vegas casino. Because of Wisconsin’s impressive 70-31 victory against Nebraska on Saturday, Avello said he shrunk the spread slightly for the Badgers’ Jan. 1 Rose Bowl game against No. 6 Stanford (11-2).
Article continues below ...
Wisconsin (8-5) opened as a six-point underdog when Avello released his lines Sunday. The Badgers, just the fourth unranked team to qualify for a BCS bowl, have since moved to a 6.5-point underdog.
“I pretty much used my power ratings that I’ve been using all year long,” said Avello, the first sportsbook manager to set lines for the January BCS games. “That made their power rating a little bit stronger after that game. That’s what happens. When you’re an oddsmaker, there’s adjustments to be made every week with teams getting better or a team is getting worse. You need to make those adjustments.”
Avello indicated it was easier to discern a point spread for two teams with similar styles of play, as is the case with Wisconsin and Stanford. Both teams utilize pro-style offenses with tough-nosed defenses that rank in the top 20 nationally in total defense and scoring defense.
“That’s kind of best,” Avello said. “It’s not like Wisconsin is playing an Oklahoma State or a Kansas State. This matchup does suit both teams well.”
Oddly enough, the Wisconsin-Stanford game features the smallest point spread among the five BCS bowl games.
In the Orange Bowl, Florida State opened as a 13.5-point favorite against Northern Illinois. The Huskies’ BCS bid was the most controversial of the season and sparked debate in college football circles when the pairings were revealed Sunday night. NIU lost its season opener to an Iowa team that finished 4-8, but the Huskies won the Mid-American Conference championship game to reach No. 15 in the BCS rankings.
Florida is a 14.5-point favorite against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, Oregon an eight-point favorite against Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl and Alabama a nine-point favorite against Notre Dame in the national championship game.
Avello noted that point spreads don’t necessarily reflect how many points by which he thinks one team will win. Instead, lines are set based on whether he believes people will evenly wager on each side of the spread.
Nebraska, for example, was a three-point favorite against Wisconsin entering the Big Ten championship.
“This last game against Nebraska was really surprising,” Avello said. “That’s not the way you would expect that game to go at 70-31. I was kind of shocked at that final score.
“When you look at Wisconsin’s matchups against the good teams, the Oregon States, the Michigan States, Ohio States, Penn States, they’re all really close games.
“This one was kind of surprising. But it’s a good lift for them going into the Rose Bowl. It’s a good momentum booster, that’s for sure.”
And a good boost on a point spread, too.
Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.