For the first time since 2016, Clemson isn’t favored to win an ACC game.
This week, the Tigers travel to No. 23 Pittsburgh where they’re a three-point underdog. ESPN Chalk gambling writer David Purdum talks about the Panthers’ rising team and how the Tigers’ narrow win over Syracuse hurt them in oddsmakers’ eyes.
The State: Clemson hasn’t been an underdog in an ACC game since 2016. I thought it was interesting that Boston College was undefeated when they played the Tigers, yet Clemson was still favored. What does that say about how oddsmakers view Pitt and how they’re playing?
DP: Pitt is one of those teams that’s really risen in the oddsmakers’ power ratings. The beginning of the season, there was an early line on this Clemson-Pitt game and Clemson was a 17-point favorite. Now, they’re a 3½- or 4-point underdog, depending on where you look. Pitt is one of those teams that’s really exceeded the betting markets’ expectations.
TS: Given the amount of points Pitt has scored this season, were you surprised at that opening line being so low?
DP: I was intrigued by it, for sure. I kind of saw the matchup in advance. It was kind of trying to figure out what the oddsmakers were going to do with that number. I didn’t know if Pitt would be a small favorite, and of course they did. I believe they opened up at two and it’s all the way up to four at some spots, so it was intriguing. I don’t know if I was necessarily surprised more than I was trying to figure out, didn’t know what the oddsmakers were going to do.
TS: It’s already shifted some, but do you expect the line to change further in Pitt’s favor or could some money come in on Clemson to switch that?
DP: Right now with it being at 3½ or 4, it’s going to take some significant, respected money, money from bettors that have an established rapport with sportsbooks and they’ve earned their respect to make the move down right now. I continue to believe that the public will probably be on Pittsburgh. The overwhelming majority of the bets will be on Pittsburgh, which could drive the line up, but until you get up to 6 or 7, it’s not a significant move. Five is not a common margin of victory, so it’s going to take some very respected money to move it down towards Clemson. I could see it ticking up a little bit on Pittsburgh based on public money.
TS: We’ve talked about how Clemson has been favored to win by double digits even after seeing some of those offensive struggles. This week in particular, how did the close game with Syracuse affect the oddsmakers’ perception of Clemson?
DP: I think pretty significantly, too. I talked to some guys in Vegas last week ahead of the Syracuse game. That line opened up as high as 17 and ended up closing at 13. There was a lot of money on Syracuse that drove that number down. When it did that, even the bookmakers were thinking, “Wow, boy, if there was ever a time for Clemson to put it together coming off a bye against an inferior opponent, this would be it,” and they didn’t.
TS: So now when you look at the ACC, what do the odds now look like in terms of who will win it?
DP: Clemson is now an underdog. They’re +320. Pittsburgh is now the favorite at +130, so this is the battle between the two favorites to win the ACC right now. This is the first time in a long time that Clemson has not been the favorite to win the ACC.