The down cycle for the Public Action Report continued last week. Only a late rally by Virginia against Miami that earned a push avoided an 0-4 ATS weekend. The fundamentals behind this report have proven sound over the years, so this current month of frustration is just a reminder of how hard sports betting can be, and how important it is to maintain a long-term view when the short term sucks.
Time for another quick reminder of what the Public Action Report is all about. Typically when the action on a game is unbalanced — more than 70 percent of bets placed on one team — we would expect the line movement to make the popular team less attractive so that the action doesn’t get more unbalanced for the books. What we are interested in, though, is the games in which the action is unbalanced, yet the line move makes the popular team even more attractive. When the line movement is the opposite of what you would expect it typically means that the smart money — a small number of high-dollar, successful, intelligent professionals — is on the unpopular side. That means that the unpopular team is worth a close look. The purpose of the Report isn’t to suggest games you should bet on blindly. It’s far more valuable as a way to spot games you might want to look closer at, and to change your mind on games you might have been thinking about betting.
There are only three games that fit the criteria in all of football this week — and none in the NFL, where the Report has definitely been stronger. Without further ado:
Illinois (+6) vs. Purdue (Saturday, Nov. 17, 3:30 p.m. ET)
More than three-quarters of bets have been on the Boilermakers, yet the lie opened at the key number of seven and has fallen a point since then. That’s the opposite of what we would expect, and because it involves a key number it is more significant than it otherwise would be. That means that Illinois is worth a close look in this one. In some places the books even opened the line at 7.5 before moving it down, so they exposed themselves to the possibility of being middled at a key number. Books hate when that happens, so they have to have a good reason to make a move like this. Illinois is a lousy team riding a seven-game losing streak. Purdue isn’t exactly a dominant squad, either, though — they have dropped five of their last six and have failed to cover five of their last seven, and they are dealing with the distraction of a coach who is all but certain to be fired at the end of the year. They have little to play for — especially on the road against a lousy team — and could easily be unfocused. That could give Illinois the edge they need to cover this spread.
Michigan State (-7.5) vs. Northwestern (Saturday, Nov. 17, 12 p.m. ET)
The story here is the opposite of the last game. Here the underdog, Northwestern, has drawn three-quarters of the action, yet the line has moved from 6.5 to 7.5. That means that the Spartans draw our attention in this one. Northwestern is coming off a crushing come-from-ahead overtime loss in Michigan last week, and the Wildcats have now blown leads in two of their last three and have lost three of their last five. They are going to be a weary and frustrated team, and this game is one that could certainly see them come out flat and play poorly. The Spartans have lost three of their last four, but one game was in overtime and the other two were by two and four points — and they have come against solid opposition. They have beaten Northwestern four times in a row, and the movement here suggests that they could do so again.
South Alabama (+7) vs. Middle Tennessee State (Saturday, Nov. 17, 3:30 p.m. ET)
More than 70 percent of bets have been on Middle Tennessee in this one, yet the line has dropped a full field goal from ten points to seven. That means we should look at South Alabama. I won’t pretend to know much about either of these teams — especially 2-8 South Alabama. That’s a significant line move, though, so the game is worth our attention. When a game is a low-volume one like this then one big money, confident bettor can move the line significantly. A bettor like that will typically have a good reason to be on the game, so these situations are particularly intriguing.
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