What Vegas Thinks: Why is Wisconsin favored over USC?

Posted by JOSH KENDALL on December 29, 2013 

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier watches punter Patrick Fish go through warmups during practice at Celebration High School in Kissimmee, FL, Saturday, December 28, 2013.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

Sports gambling journalist David Purdum (@DavidPurdum on Twitter) joined us to talk Capital One Bowl lines and the Wisconsin Badgers. Purdum and I chatted about why Wisconsin is favored over the Gamecocks, Steve Spurrier’s track record against the spread in the postseason, which conference is the best bet in bowl games and an interesting statistic that shows how well the Badgers have controlled the tempo in the postseason.

The State: Frankly, I’m surprised that Wisconsin is favored in this game. What’s the latest on the line?

David Purdum: Wisconsin opened up as a 1-point favorite, somebody bet it up to 2. A lot of the action, probably 90 percent of it, will come over the weekend, leading up to New Year’s Day as people get out to Vegas to celebrate, but the early movements, those come from guys that are in Vegas. There is some belief that the Badgers are the better team.

The State: So the guys who were betting up the line for Wisconsin are pros, right?

David Purdum: Yeah, and they are making a sizable enough wager, I would estimate it in the four-figure range to move that line. This isn’t Joe Public bettor, $20 guy coming up to the window. These are guys that know what they are looking for and knowing what their numbers say.

The State: Steve Spurrier has played in a ton of bowls but he’s below .500 against the spread in bowl games in his career, so his teams haven’t lived up the hype in the postseason, right?

David Purdum: That was the big stigma on him when he first got there. He got them going to bowl games every year but they just came out flat, disinterested in those bowl games early on.

The State: Lately, South Carolina has performed better in bowl games so will people begin to pay attention to those trends or will they just ride the bigger trend?

David Purdum: Well, right now people are betting Wisconsin. That’s always one of the bowl factors that people look at – Who wants to be there? Who wants to finish with a win? Who’s looking forward to the NFL? Who’s not paying attention? Who’s driving over the speed limit?

The State: These SEC-Big Ten games always become a conference thing. Are there any trends there to pay attention to?

David Purdum: Absolutely. SEC teams are the best bets in bowl games since 2004. They are 42-32 against the spread in bowl games in that time. That’s the highest winning percentage of any of the conferences since 2004. Big Ten teams, during that same time frame are 26-29 against the spread in bowls. They have not played up to the betting market’s expectations.

The State: What about the Gamecocks vs. Big Ten teams?

David Purdum: They have played five teams, all in bowl games, since 2001, beat them four out of five, 3-2 against the spread. The Badgers have played six SEC teams in bowl teams since 1998 and they are 3-3 against the spread. Something that is kind of interesting is that Wisconsin has been able to turn the game into what they want it to be – a run-oriented, slower paced game. Five of their six games against SEC teams in bowl games have stayed under the over/under.

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