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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, January 29, 2016 at 1:00 PM

There are some really great college basketball matchups Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The nature of the betting schedule makes it tough for me to talk about “sharp” betting on a day-to-day basis because there’s so little lead time between when the lines go up and when the games are played! So, we’ll have to save our “NFL” style of reporting until March Madness when there’s at least a day between when the lines go up and tipoff.

But, I can at least report some things I’ve noticed about teams playing in those high profile games. That will add some market context to your TV viewing pleasure…and may influence your thinking if you’re looking to place Las Vegas bets yourself in any of the games.

Let’s run through them in schedule order…

WEST VIRGINIA AT FLORIDA: Both teams have been consistent money-makers this season…and both teams are on good ATS runs of late. I’m showing both at around 11-6 against the spread, which is right at 65%. Both are also 5-1 ATS over their last six games. Maybe Florida lost a step in the big picture Power Ratings with Billy Donovan moving on to coach Oklahoma City in the NBA. Oddsmakers and sharps thought they’d lose two steps and overshot the mark! I can tell you that more than a few respected sharps really like West Virginia this year because of that great defense. A pair of strong defenses here might lead to a physical affair in this early Saturday tip.

VANDERBILT AT TEXAS: Texas started slowly with new head coach Shaka Smart. They’ve caught fire of late. But a 4-1 ATS mark the last five games only has them at 8-11 ATS for the season. They had that big win at West Virginia (who was caught napping for a game), and then a strong first half at Kansas (who’s been playing much better at home than on the road). Sharps learned to love Shaka Smart when he was at VCU…and will be looking for the Horns to peak late. Vanderbilt has been floundering lately…with that big loss at Kentucky last Saturday being part of a 2-6 ATS slide the last eight games. Wouldn’t be shocked if sharps hit Texas at the opener.

IOWA STATE AT TEXAS A&M: Very interesting game here. We may be looking at two teams who will be seeded as high as #2 in the Big Dance. Iowa State is on a great run. They’re 4-0 ATS their last four, including straight up wins over Kansas and Oklahoma. Texas A&M is getting a lot of respect in the polls…but they’re just 2-4-1 ATS their last seven games because market expectations may be getting too high. If Iowa State wins this one on the road…that’s going to be very strong evidence that the Big 12 is the much stronger conference. A&M is the best team in the SEC right now. We’ll know what that means by sunset.

OKLAHOMA AT LSU: Who do you want to take? The visitor that’s 3-7 ATS its last 10 because they may have been rushed to the top of the polls too quickly…or the host that’s 0-6 ATS since beating Kentucky?! I’ll be very interested to see how sharps bet the opener. Note that most sharp Power Ratings only have LSU around #60 in the country even though the media has them as a tournament team. It will actually be a pretty big strike against Oklahoma in terms of national championship potential if they don’t get a good result here. (Note that Oklahoma is 11-6 to the Over this year…and LSU just had trouble stopping a much less impressive Georgia team from scoring.)

KENTUCKY AT KANSAS: This is the game everyone’s waiting for. Sharps know it’s not quite a dream matchup because Kentucky’s taken a step backward this season. The square public only knows these are famous teams playing in prime time on ESPN! Squares don’t usually bet much college basketball until the tournaments. Maybe this one will create some buzz in local sportsbooks. Note that Kentucky has covered three straight, which might be a sign that good things are ahead. Kansas has failed to cover FIVE straight because they’ve been so bad on the road, and overpriced at home. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how both teams respond to this challenge.

As I write this, I can’t even know if I’ll be posting releases in these games because the lines aren’t up yet! I can promise that you’ll get my very best selections when you sign up for service. If I’m doing my job correctly, we’ll win more than we lose. You can’t win ‘em all…but you can win enough to make money if you understand the markets.

My BEST BETS based on my market experience are available daily right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Friday or Saturday before the first games tip off.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you again midweek for our usual college and NBA hoops coverage. My final NFL report of the season will go up on Friday as the dust settles on sharp action in the Carolina Panthers/Denver Broncos Super Bowl. Thus far, only Carolina money has been hitting the board. Denver dog money is lying in wait for the apex. I hope everyone reading this will get a chance one day to spend Super Bowl week in Las Vegas!

 

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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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