Smart Box Series: High Expectations
By Marc Lawrence
When Alabama defeated Florida, 28-21, to win the first ever SEC championship game in 1992, it signaled the start of Division-1 college football conference title games.
This week finds a total of six FBS conference championship games on tap, with no less than four teams each owning one loss on the season.
Satisfyingly enough, these four one-time losers – all 11-1 on the year - find themselves paired against one another as upstart Kent State squares off against Northern Illinois in the MAC title game, while Alabama meets Georgia in the SEC championship game.
In addition to the pressure of being a defending national champion looking to get back to the BCS Championship Game, Alabama must also overcome exceedingly high expectations of its own.
The staggering effect of what happens in conference championship games with teams who have dominated on the playing field the last two seasons is eye-opening, to say the least.
Our database confirms the notion, finding that teams in conference title games who managed to win 19 or more of their last 22 games are just 6-15-2 ATS when installed as favorites in these games.
Worse, when favored by 21 or less points, and playing off a win of 3 or more points, these ’pips’ dip to 1-14-1 ATS in these title game roles.
The Tide may be high in Tuscaloosa these days but expectancy of rewarding their backers is low this week.
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This is a 1* Free Play on the Wizards.
It looks like a good spot to pull the trigger on the home side here, as Denver comes into this one disheartened after falling 116-111 in Brooklyn just last night. Washington should be the much “hungrier” side this evening as it’s dropped three of its last four, including a listless 124-116 setback to Orlando at home last time out. Also note that Denver is just 8-11 ATS in its last 19 as an underdog, while Washington is 3-1 ATS in its last four as a home fav in the 3.5 to six points range. Consider laying the points on the WIZARDS.