Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 4:00 PM
Wow, you should have seen the overflow crowds at Las Vegas sportsbooks for the first full day of NCAA Tournament action. If you can’t attend any games in person, THIS is the place to be! I’m so glad I got all of my preparation work done early…because there’s barely time to think once the games begin.
Here’s what sharps were thinking based on their early betting action (or inaction) in the 16 games set for Friday. I’ll go in schedule order in terms of location, but in tip-off order at each site so the information matches your real-world betting needs.
GAMES IN CHARLOTTE
GEORGIA VS. MICHIGAN STATE: Some interest on Michigan State at the opener of -5. But, only enough to push the line to -5.5. Sharps do respect this coach and program in March. They’ve learned to do that! But, this team isn’t as talented as some of the others, and isn’t automatic to win this type of game on command. Sharps preferring Sparty acted early on the opener in advance of the public. Those thinking about Georgia are waiting to see what they can get. I do believe “value” bets at the very least would come in on the Bulldogs if +6 is breached. The opening total of 128.5 is down to 127 or 126.5. Quants thought the opener overshot the mark. I’ll only mention totals today when we see a move of at least one point off the opener.
BELMONT VS. VIRGINIA: Not a high interest game for sharps. The opener of Virginia -16.5 is up to -17. It’s tougher for Virginia to win huge because of their very slow tempo. But, they do have a great defense that could hold Belmont to a very low output. The opening total of 124.5 is down to 123.
ROBERT MORRIS VS. DUKE: Late on the board because Robert Morris didn’t earn the spot until Wednesday night. Duke opened at -22 and rose to -23 with their fatigue advantage. Some sharps will think about the dog at +23 or better because Duke doesn’t have much of a bench…and the bench may determine who covers in the last five minutes.
ST. JOHN’S VS. SAN DIEGO STATE: Sharps generally like betting SDSU, particularly at tight prices. They see a lot of this team because the Mountain West tournament is played here in town, and SDSU has been an MWC power for a few years now. SDSU is best to take as a dog or cheap favorite, but dicier as a bigger favorite because of their slow pace and grinding style. An opener of SDSU -3 has been bet up to -3.5 and -4. Some New York money will make its way here for the dog if the line goes higher. The Over/Under is up from an opener of 121 to 122.5.
GAMES IN COLUMBUS
BUFFALO VS. WEST VIRGINIA: Not much betting interest here, as oddsmakers correctly anticipated that sharps wanted to take Buffalo. West Virginia opened only at -4.5, which was the lowest number in a 5-12 seeding matchup this year. Buffalo has been a popular “upset call” for pundits…as the team is basically the same as Indiana in many Power/Computer ratings…and West Virginia can be very shaky away from home. Sharps were hoping for at least +5 on the game price.
VALPARAISO VS. MARYLAND: Looks like a tug-of-war developing between Maryland -4.5 and Valparaiso +5. The public kept hearing from the media about how great Maryland was…as a #2 seed in the Big 10 who beat Wisconsin. But, on the whole, the market hasn’t been giving them much respect because of some very ugly road results in league play. Note that Maryland was +4 on a neutral court last week to Michigan State, even though Maryland is a #4 seed and Michigan State a #7 seed. Sharps want Valpo of the Horizon League at +5 or better. Squares think Maryland is cheap at anything below five.
ALBANY VS. OKLAHOMA: Low interest game so far, with the opener of Oklahoma -13 largely standing pat. Telling that sharps didn’t take the favorite on the assumption that public money was coming. A “frozen” line either means sharps are passing the game, or they prefer the dog and are hoping for something better. A relative dead spot so far.
DAYTON VS. PROVIDENCE: Providence opened at -2.5, and was bet up to -3 with their rest advantage. Dayton had to rally late to beat Boise State Wednesday night. Though, it’s not much of a trip from Dayton to Columbus…so that reduces the challenge for the Flyers somewhat. Possibly a chance for a tug-of-war because this is one of the latest tips of the day. Plenty of time for the public to talk themselves into the favorite while sharps fade any line moves.
GAMES IN OMAHA
NEW MEXICO STATE VS. KANSAS: Sharps like to fade Kansas in the Dance, particularly when favored against mid-major opposition. We’ve seen that here as an opener of Kansas -11.5 was bet down to -10.5 or even -10. That’s a BIG move by early money standards. The public has learned its lesson with Kansas and isn’t providing any resistance to the Wise Guys.
INDIANA VS. WICHITA STATE: Many in the markets were surprised that Wichita State was dropped down to a #7 seed. Pricing has given them much more respect than that all season…particularly in head-to-head battles with Northern Iowa, who got a #5 seed. The Shockers opened at -4.5, and were bet up to -5.5. Wichita State will be a popular sharp bet vs. Kansas Sunday if the favorites win. This total opened at 138 and was bet up to 140. Indiana has a very poor defense. One way to bet on Wichita State having a good day is to bet the Over.
OKLAHOMA STATE VS. OREGON: The best chance for a close, exciting game comes in this matchup…with the lowest spread on the card of Oregon -1.5. They actually opened as a one-point underdog. So, a pretty big move across the zero. Sharps got to see Oregon last week in the Pac 12 tournament, and at least liked what they saw in the win over Utah (if not the blowout loss to Arizona). The Wise Guys thought the wrong team was favored. The total is down a bit from 137.5 to 136.5.
COASTAL CAROLINA VS. WISCONSIN: Small move down here from Wisconsin -20 to -19.5. That’s sneaky interesting because these games generally float higher in early action. Either sharp interest on the dog overruled public sentiment…or squares are leaving this game alone. As I’ve discussed often on these pages, half-point moves against the expected flow are usually more meaningful than they seem at first glance.
GAMES IN SEATTLE
WYOMING VS. NORTHERN IOWA: Possibly a tug-of-war here, with Northern Iowa getting bet at -6, but Wyoming getting bet at +6.5. Sharps did get a good look at Wyoming last week, when they were the surprise winner of the Mountain West tournament. And, Northern Iowa is seen as more of a feisty tournament dog rather than a trustworthy Dance favorite. An extremely low total of 109 was bet up to 110.5. That may be part of the sharp interest in the dog as well…because points are at a premium in low-scoring slugfests.
CAL-IRVINE VS. LOUISVILLE: Sharps have been skeptical of Louisville for a few weeks, as the team started to fade down the stretch. An opener of Louisville -9 has been bet down to -8. That’s a really big move by this week’s standards because it’s a full point and against the general flow of public interest. A lot of sleeper talk from Vegas-based pundits about an upset here too. Not many in Vegas have Louisville making it to the Sweet 16 because they expect somebody to upset them this weekend.
DAVIDSON VS. IOWA: Iowa is up from an opener of -1.5 to -2.5. This is similar to the move we saw with Ohio State/VCU on Thursday. Same conferences involved in a similar price range. Tough to have watched Davidson’s loss to VCU last week and like them over any major conference team this week.
NORTH DAKOTA STATE VS. GONZAGA: Not much interest here, which is common for the 1-16 and 2-15 games. Maybe the public will take some shots on the favorite because this is a very late tip Sharps would fade any move off the opener of -18 given Gonzaga’s largely unimpressive Dance resume in recent years. They had to sweat a 1-16 game a couple of years ago straight up!
You can purchase my personal selections for the day and night slates right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 before the first games tip off Friday.
Back again tomorrow to look at Saturday’s eight “Round of 32” games. Then we’ll do the same thing the next day for Sunday’s action. Great week to be in Vegas. Find a place to sit and have some fun!
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