Every year Mother Nature forces college football game reschedules and cancellations. Does it affect sports bettors and the market? You bet ya. Our betting expert explains why and how.
Hurricane Matthew is still wreaking havoc on college football. The NCAA announced Thursday night’s No. 25 Navy at East Carolina showdown at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C. was postponed until Nov. 19 because of the storm’s aftermath (flooding). Last week, LSU at No. 18 Florida and Tulane at Central Florida were also postponed to a later date, while Charlotte at Florida Atlantic and Georgia at South Carolina kicked off on a rare Sunday. Do game reschedules and cancellations affect sports gamblers in any way? You bet ya.
Firstly, there are some obvious factors to consider. Preparation, scheduling and other logistical concerns get thrown out of whack. Navy, for example, will have an extra day of rest today and Wednesday before returning for light practice on Thursday and Friday since the announcement. They also get the weekend off. These are young players, but rest at any level of football is welcome, especially midway through the season. Can this give the team an advantage against their next opponent Memphis? Perhaps, you know the coaches are studying up. A week off prior to a November 26 clash with SMU is now off the table, but the 4-1 Tigers will give a much stiffer test than the 2-4 Mustangs. Midshipmen fans could see this as a blessing.
Future injuries are a concern for sports investors, too. There are few players in college football that can offer a significant adjustment to oddsmakers’ lines, but key players warrant some attention. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, the Heisman favorite at -200 odds, is easily worth 5 or 6 points (or more) to the Cardinals’ point spread. LSU’s Leonard Fournette commands respect, too. The 2015 First-team All-SEC back is worth a couple of points at least to the spread, kicking off the season as the second choice for the award at +600 odds. He’s been hobbled much of the season by a sore ankle, and will see extra time to heal before a make-up date with the Gators—if there is one at all, they don’t have a common open date the rest of the year.
Point spreads can shift due to season results prior to the make-up game as well. In football, a team’s value in the market adjusts roughly five percent on average from a game-to-game basis. If LSU, for example, goes on a tear and wins five games in a row by 20 points or more before a rescheduled game with Florida. Moreover, let’s say the Gators go .500 in this span. That pick ‘em line that opened the original contest before postponement will be long gone.
One of the biggest concerns for bettors due to the postponed dates are futures bets on win totals, or division and conference championships. If LSU and Florida do not meet up, the uneven number of games played by the two could taint one or both of the West and East division winners. In the SEC East, for example, ESPN’s FPI projections give Florida a 10 percent better chance of winning the division if the LSU game is not played. Not the best news for Tennessee, who although beat the Gators outright, lost last weekend to No. 6 Texas A&M and host No. 1 Alabama this weekend.