A GRIP ON SPORTS
There are few people in America as proficient at their jobs as the good fellows in Vegas that set sporting event lines. If they ran the government, we might not have deficit spending. Read on.
• Yesterday I went looking for the betting line on the Washington State at Gonzaga basketball game. Not for financial purposes. No, I'm not a betting man. I haven't really wagered much since I was in college and lost a lot. A lot. And money that was earmarked for food. Make an 18-year-old go hungry for a few days and you make an impression. Anyway, I was looking for the line to help me decide who to pick in the game. I know betting lines aren't an absolute measure who is going to win or lose, that they are set in an attempt to get half the money bet on one team and half on the other, or something like that. But I've been impressed recently by the uncanny nature of the lines. In tight games, they aren't much help. But if the line is pretty large, then they seem to nail the winner, if not the spread. So there I was, looking at the GU/WSU line. It was 16 points. In Gonzaga's favor. Pashah (or some other sound from "Little House on the Prairie"). That's way too high, I thought. This rivalry has had some blowouts, sure, but 16 points with Gonzaga still reinventing itself (as John Blanchette so eloquently describes in this morning's column)? No way. Those guys don't know what they are talking about. So, when asked on the radio show yesterday, I picked Gonzaga to win (made sense) by six points (made sense to me). And smiled a smug smile. The final score: Gonzaga, 90-74. Now I'm not very good at math but I do believe ("carry the one, make the 9 an 8 ...") that is 16 points. Geez. How does that happen?
• By the way, the line on the Idaho at Florida State football game opened at with the Seminoles a 57-point favorite this week. No shame in that. FSU has put up a lot of points, is very good and Idaho is, well, not as good. But the over/under, the line Vegas sets on how many points will be scored by both teams, was set at 57 points as well. I have never seen that. The guys in the desert were actually predicting a shutout. Now it's grown to 69 points, but still. There wasn't much confidence by the oddsmakers the Vandals could find the endzone.
• WSU: We'll leave the stories on the basketball game to the Gonzaga section. After all, the Bulldogs were the host team. And we'll pass along other stuff, mainly Jacob Thorpe's coverage of Cougar football from yesterday. Jacob advances Saturday's game with Utah with this piece on the Washington State offensive line, a key area in which the Cougars need to excel in to win tomorrow. He also has blog posts from last night and this morning. The former covers Thursday night football, the latter the links from around the conference. ... Jacob had some basketball news as well, with this story and blog post on a last-minute (in the early period) signing of a big JC transfer. ... Back to Utah, the Utes have a weapon at tight end. ... One guys has WSU making a bowl game. He's just not sure which one yet. ... Finally, I think a lot of us have felt like doing this. I know I have, with a lot of teams. But, to quote Michael Corleone, "they keep pulling me back in."
• Gonzaga: The Kennel was rocking last night (I can't say from personal experience because I was not there, but I'm guessing because I have been in the place for other WSU/GU games) and that helped the Zags. Not like they needed it, though. Jim Meehan has the story of Gonzaga's dismantling of WSU's new-look defense. He also has a blog post from the game while Jacob posted the box score. Jesse Tinsley was in attendance as well and has these photographs. ... The Seattle Times' Bud Withers had a column from the game too. ... The Lakers brought Elias Harris back from the D-League. ... USD improved to 5-0 with an 82-46 rout of San Diego Christian.
• Idaho: The Vandals traveled down the Snake and Columbia rivers (not literally, but followed that direction) to face the Portland Pilots last night. Portland won. Josh Wright has more in this blog post.
• Preps: A Shadle Park alum is ready to run on the NCAA's biggest stage for the top-ranked team. Greg Lee has the story.
• Seahawks: Hey, did you know the Hawks have a bye? If you didn't, please go somewhere else for your morning sports report. We've only mentioned it 173 times. Still, we have a few things for you, like Pro Football Weekly stating the Hawks' special teams are the best in the league, even with just a week of featuring Percy Harvin. ... Paul Allen is a better owner than the rankings might indicate (yes, there are owner rankings). ... Pete Carroll has time for things off the field as well. Good for him.
• Mariners: OK, I am officially ticked off. The M's say they are "looking" for another No. 2-type starter this offseason. One was available on the free agent market, one that has pitched here before. Instead, Jason Vargas signs with Kansas City for four years, $32 million. That's a bargain for a guy who would be a solid third in the M's rotation. Heck, four years, $36 million would have worked. But no. Spend some money, darn it. ... That's off my chest. The team did announce its spring training schedule and moved some minor leaguers onto the 40-man roster. That's exciting.
• Is it really Friday morning already? Where did the week go? I didn't get near-enough naps. I guess I have to make up for it today. And then head to the radio station where I'll be on with Rick Lukens and Keith Osso for a bit more than an hour. You can listen here starting at 3 p.m. Until later ...