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Bovi: Catching totals

What can mowing the lawn teach us about sports wagering? If you have fallen prey to bouts of procrastination when it comes to keeping your grass pretty, it may get you an earful from your significant other or dirty looks from your neighbors. In the case of sports wagering, procrastination can relieve you of some of the other greenery, the kind that pays for nice vacations and fancy dinners.

The Purdue Boilermakers took on the Syracuse Orangemen Sunday. The ‘total’ opened at what I thought was a very reasonable 50 points, given Purdue’s potent offense featuring QB Kyle Orton. That coupled with an average Syracuse defense, and a Purdue stop unit that had lost what amounted to 36 of last years 41 QB sacks to graduation. The only question was the performance of the Orangemen’s two freshmen QB versus what I thought, and still believe, is a vulnerable Purdue defense.

As I have always represented, I am ‘on’ every game that I release on VegasInsider. I went 'over' the 50-point total on Friday morning feeling confident that the total was going to move up by game time. I released this total as a ‘play’ on VI. By early Sunday morning, the last 51’s were drying up as the number headed to the closing total of 53.5 or 54.

With Purdue ahead 44-0 late in the fourth quarter, Orton was out and Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni was just trying to end the misery when the Boilermakers miraculously scored a late touchdown and kicked the PAT. In this case, there was what is commonly referred to as ‘a middle.’ A middle takes place when the final score ends up between the opening line and the closing line. Because the game opened at 50, closed at 54, and ended up on 51, a middle occurred.

As the line movement indicates, the majority of money went ‘over’ as the total was driven higher by 3 1/2 to four points. Bookmakers raise or lower the line in accordance with the flow of the money that is wagered.

If you bet the ‘over,’ you either walked away feeling your oats or ready to toss your Sunday brunch depending on when your wager was made. Judging by the sharp move in the line, I have a suspicion that the majority of ‘over’ bettors lost their wagers and fell into the latter category. Not pretty.

Logic would suggest that situations like what happened leading up to and during the Purdue game is a 50/50 proposition, with much of it depending on luck. I would dispute that. If you are an astute handicapper, the money will invariably move with you, as it usually does when I make an early selection on an 'over/under.' That is precisely what occurred with the Purdue-Syracuse contest.

There is a lesson here, it is a long season. If you have an opinion on a 'total,' get down early. Totals are a great deal more volatile than sides and sometimes reflect huge swings. Don’t let procrastination turn winners into losers. It can get awfully expensive.

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