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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Wanted to go up with a “Championship Saturday” market report because we have so many big games on the evening ticket. I’ll talk about how sharps bet the openers in the Conference Finals matchups listed on the regular card. Keep in mind that we could see moves later in the day in the hours before tipoff. It’s a bit more difficult to get a read on sharps on the day-to-day basketball markets than it is with the longer lead-ins during the Big Dance…and with several days of investment time during the NFL season.

Games are listed in rotation order…


CUSA Championship: Middle Tennessee at Alabama-Birmingham

Note that this game is being played in Birmingham, the host of this year’s tournament. Also, be aware that this is the only DAY game in our discussion, with a time change to 3:30 p.m. ET. The opener came up at UAB -1.5. Sharps immediately drove that to -2 in advance of possible public action. This isn’t a game that will draw much interest from squares. But, those betting will take the cheap “home” team. Sharps preferring UAB wanted to get in before the two. The line didn’t fly past the two…which suggests there’s some Middle Tennessee money waiting out there to see what it can get.


Mountain West Championship: San Diego State vs. Wyoming

A fairly strong one-point move toward the dog here right out of the gate…in this game played right here in Las Vegas at the Thomas and Mack Center. San Diego State opened at -7. Sharps jumped right in on Wyoming at +7 and +6.5. It’s SDSU by six as I write this up for you. I say fairly strong because a full point is quite a bit at this stage of the season…AND it was on the underdog rather than the favorite. Sharps didn’t wait to see if squares would back the favorite. The Wise Guys are looking for a competitive game.


Big 12 Championship: Kansas vs. Iowa State

Slight move here on Kansas from -2 to -2.5. That was in advance of anticipated public action on the favorite playing in Kansas City. A lot of Wise Guys thought Baylor was going to beat shorthanded Kansas in the semifinals. But, it was never a game. Those skeptics probably won’t come in unless they see +3 today. Actually, I’d expect a lot of sharp money to come in if the three is broached. Dog lovers are waiting to see if the public pushes the game higher.


Mid-American Championship: Buffalo vs. Central Michigan

This one’s in Cleveland. Buffalo drew early support at the opener of -2.5. The line is three as I write this, with no sign yet of buy back on the underdog. Can’t say that this was in anticipation of square money. This isn’t the kind of game the public gets involved with…two no-name teams in a small conference. Sharps like Buffalo -2.5, and we may not see dog involvement unless it goes to Central +3.5


Big East Championship: Villanova vs. Xavier

We may see a tug-of-war here between Villanova -7.5 (the public and some sharps) and Xavier +8 (sharps). This will be a reasonably bet game because it’s in New York and featured prominently on television. New York money has a way of finding its way to Las Vegas. Villanova’s in the discussion for a prominent Dance seed with the losses by Virginia and Duke Friday. That’s driving some public interest.  


Atlantic Coast Championship: North Carolina vs. Notre Dame

Looking like a possible tug-of-war here between North Carolina -2.5 and Notre Dame +3. This will be a heavily bet game, even though it’s not the projected Virginia/Duke match the league and ESPN were hoping for. Both teams have prominent followings. And, this will be a high profile TV game. Carolina drew interest out of the gate at the -2.5…but stores testing the three see Irish money come in at a relatively important number in projected nailbiters. This should easily be the most heavily bet game at local sportsbooks outside of those played here in the city.


Pac 12 Championship: Arizona vs. Oregon

The MGM Grand has been a great site for this tournament. The crowds are electric…and the size is just right for maximizing that effect. Arizona has been priced like “Kentucky of the West” all season out here…and is again today despite the non-cover vs. UCLA. Arizona opened at -10.5…which already seems very high for a #1 vs. #2 game in a tournament final. The number went up! I’m now seeing -11.5 and even a -12 out there. Sharps preferring Oregon are waiting for the apex before moving in strong. I would expect that at +12.5 for sure, and possibly at +12 if it becomes more widely available.  


Big West Championship: Cal-Irvine vs. Hawaii

The biggest early move on the board was in this game, as Cal-Irvine opened at -2.5 and got bet up to -4. No signs of a buy-back on the dog yet, though that might be coming. Openers usually don’t miss sharp sentiment by THAT much…so we can assume some underdog interesting is waiting on the sidelines ready to come in. Sharps preferring Cal-Irvine really liked -2.5 and -3.


Ivy League Championship (added tie-breaker): Harvard vs. Yale

Note that this game will be played at the Palestra in Philadelphia to break the tie atop the Ivy League standings. That conferences doesn’t have a postseason tournament. It’s been added to the schedule. Harvard opened at -1.5 and was bet up to -2 (in spite of losing at home to Yale in a regular season game last week that would have clinched the title). Harvard has the better basketball reputation, which may draw in more public money during the day. Sharps preferring Harvard jumped in early. It might take as much as +3 to generate Yale interest because the Wise Guys usually don’t like asking a dog to beat the same favorite twice in quick succession.

I always love this last Saturday of the conference tournaments because the afternoon semifinals in the Big 10, SEC and elsewhere serve as a great appetizer to a long night of championship games. I’ve posted my top plays for you here at the website. You can purchase those with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 today before the schedule gets too busy.

Thanks for reading. Sunday’s championship games start too early to produce an accurate and timely sharps report. The first three games start at 10 a.m. local time! So, my next report will be Tuesday to talk about how the sharps have been betting the “First Four” action from Dayton. Expanded reports will continue daily through the week for the Round of 64 and the Round of 32. Make plans to visit the website every day so you know how the sharps are betting!


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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