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Why is FSU basketball’s point-spread over Vermont shrinking?

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Where would you place your money?

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Postgame update:

FSU won by 7, 76-69, despite a historic three-point output from UVM, because the Seminoles did the sportsmanlike thing and decided not to make a dunk as time expired. That certainly burned some who took Florida State and gave up the 8 points.


Thursday morning update:

The line has come down even more, and is now at 8 in most places.


You know the Seminoles’ draw in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. You know the debate about their seeding and destination. And you know the opponent they’ll face, in the Vermont Catamounts.

But what do the oddsmakers in Vegas think about all of this? Well, they tend to like FSU— although either the sharps or the betting public aren’t altogether bullish on the ’Noles, because the line has decreased since opening on Sunday.

I examined 10 different sports books, and Florida State opened as a favorite of between 10.5 and 11 in all of them. And that spread is now down to 9 points in all 10. But while some may jump to the conclusion that the dwindling line reflects a lack of confidence in FSU from Vegas, that’s not necessarily the case; it could be an attempt to drum up more bets for the Seminoles, if most early action has come from people taking the points and the Catamounts.

Sports books like action to be more evenly spread out on either side of a line— it tends to ensure steady profits without taking too big of a hit. So if they’re getting too many bets on one side or the other, they’ll slide the line to even things up some. This could be a matter of a preponderance of bets for the Cats, given their proximity to home, or FSU’s Phil Cofer being characterized by Leonard Hamilton as questionable for this game. Also, Vermont has done better against the line during the 2018-2019 campaign: this season, UVM is 18-11-2 against the spread, and Florida State is 16-18.