#Betting101: Fading Arizona vs. Taking Arbitrage

Arizona Wildcats

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 2:27 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2017 2:27 PM GMT

The Arizona Wildcats are in a tough spot Friday night against the No. 23 Utah Utes. But making the arbitrage play might be the better NCAAF pick for this matchup.

You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of straightforward NCAAF picks, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of sports betting. Next stop: #Betting101. Instead of directly targeting a high-profile college football game and picking a side, even when there might not be enough betting value there to make a sharp play, we’re starting from basic, fundamental handicapping principles that you can use at home. No advanced degrees or paid subscriptions required.

Today’s episode features the Arizona Wildcats, who find themselves in the crosshairs of sharp bettors as they struggle under head coach Rich Rodriguez. Arizona went into the 2017 season with a 10-19 ATS record as underdogs with Rich-Rod at the helm; make it 10-20 ATS after they lost 19-16 to the Houston Cougars as 1-point home dogs. The ‘Cats are back in Tucson this Friday (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1) to face the No. 23 Utah Utes, who are 3-point favorites on the NCAAF odds board at press time. Is this where the gold is at?

 

Here Comes the Flood

Before we proceed, yes, there’s an arbitrage play available on this matchup. Arizona is available at +167 on the moneyline at Pinnacle, and Utah is pegged at –140 over at The Greek. More free money! Using the SBR Arbitrage Calculator, we find that betting $100 on the Utes and $64.21 on the ‘Cats will lock in a profit of $7.22, or about 4.4 percent. That’s assuming the game isn’t cancelled, or one of the three judges at ringside doesn’t go rogue and force a draw.

It appears as if Rich Rodriguez and Todd Graham are in a competition to see who can get thrown out of the state of Arizona quicker.....

— Paul Zeise (@PaulZeise) September 10, 2017

Having said that, fading Arizona could be the right play in and of itself. Our consensus reports show about two-thirds of early bettors on Utah, who have nevertheless moved down from –4.5 at the open. Apparently the books need more sharps to bet on the Utes and balance the coming flood of public money on ‘Zona. Maybe we should help them out at –3.

 

Twilight ‘Zona

But wait: ESPN’s Football Power Index has the Wildcats winning this game 69.3 percent of the time, which works out to something around Arizona –6. What what?! We need a second opinion: The Simple Rating System at Sports Reference also prefers ‘Zona (27.83 SRS) to Utah (23.67 SRS) by just over four points on neutral ground, or about 6.5 points at home.

Well, those numbers are based in part on Arizona’s 62-24 dissection of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (+26 away) in Week 1, and their 63-16 dismantling of the UTEP Miners (+25 at home) in Week 3. We’re talking about fading the Wildcats as underdogs here against a quality team. But why chance it when there’s free money to be made? Discretion is the better part of sports betting, folks. That’s #Betting101.

Free College Football Picks: Utah –140; Arizona +167
Best Lines Offered: at Pinnacle & The Greek

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