Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at 7:00 AM
We move now to the late games Thursday in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. I hope you had a chance to read my earlier look at the first session. As was the case then…I’m going in Nevada Rotation order for the sites, but then in order of starting times at each site. The schedule gets kind of messy on Thursday’s and Friday’s because the official rotation puts the games in well before the starting times are announced.
We start again in Providence…
GAMES IN PROVIDENCE
MIAMI vs. BUFFALO: 6:50 pm ET on TNT
That looks like a Sunday NFL football matchup in bold, and the market has been treating it as one. The opening line of Miami -13 was bet all the way up to -14. There’s been some buy back (though that’s not a key number in basketball!) so that we’re now seeing Buffalo +13.5 in many spots. Might be a tug-of-war developing between Miami -13.5 and Buffalo +14. Probably won’t be a heavily bet game by the public because more prominent teams are on the card elsewhere…and a lot of teams from the West will be drawing “locals” interest in Las Vegas and Reno. The Over/Under was bet down by quants from 151 to 148.5.
ARIZONA vs. WICHITA STATE: 9:20 pm ET on TNT
This game went on the board much later than the others because the market had to see who won Wichita State/Vandy on Tuesday night. Wichita State looked so great in the second half of that 20-point blowout that this game opened at pick-em. Arizona was pick-em with #1 seed Oregon last weekend here at the MGM in the Pac 12 tourney. Then they opened pick-em with Wichita State! Sharps hit Arizona enough to push the number to -1.5. I hear that’s a combination of computer rating and “fatigue” issues since the Shockers didn’t have much time to enjoy their victory. The total was bet up from 134.5 to 136.5.
GAMES IN RALEIGH
NORTH CAROLINA vs. FLORIDA-GULF COAST: 7:20 pm ET on TBS
Another one that went up on the board late because of a Tuesday play-in. FGC looked great in their slaughter of Fairleigh Dickinson. But, it’s going to be tough to come back and play well again just two nights later…particularly against North Carolina in Raleigh. That’s not far down the road from Chapel Hill. The game went up at NC -22, and hasn’t moved much. Looks like most early action is on the dog. I mentioned last time that a lot of old school sharps will take all the big dogs on principal. A move down from quants on the total from 150.5 to 148.
USC vs. PROVIDENCE: 9:50 pm ET on TBS
Not much happening here. That actually is pretty telling because USC money isn’t coming into play! The team closed the season so unimpressively (outside of a rivalry win over even worse finisher UCLA) that there’s not much enthusiasm for the Trojans right now. An opener of Providence -2 hasn’t budged. Note that this is another #9 seed favored over a #8 seed. We had two of those in the day session. Not much happening on the total either with an opener of 149.5 holding fairly firm. Given this late starting time…there’s a chance for some late Thursday steam coming into play here. Keep an eye on the number through the day.
GAMES IN DES MOINES
INDIANA vs. TENN-CHATTANOOGA: 7:10 pm ET on CBS
The Hoosiers opened at -11 and were bet initially up to -12. There’s been some buy back on Chattanooga at the dozen mark, as there is some sharp respect for the dog here. Might be a tug-of-war between -11.5 and +12 because Indiana is the kind of team squares would bet in a prime time game because of name recognition. Huge move from quants on the total from 143 all the way up to 147. That suggests an entertaining game to watch for awhile at the very least.
KENTUCKY vs. STONY BROOK: 9:40 pm ET on CBS
This “sounds” like a 1-16 matchup to casual followers, but it’s actually a 4-13 game featuring a talented but sometimes inconsistent Kentucky team against a dog that’s better than its name recognition would suggest. An opener of -13.5 was bet up to -14 by the public. Some places are testing -14.5 because this is another obvious square target. I do think sharp money would come in at +14.5 if it becomes widely available. The total is down a point from 144 to 143.
GAMES IN DENVER
UTAH vs. FRESNO STATE: 7:25 pm ET on TruTV
Utah is up a point from -8 to -8.5. Both of these teams had tournaments here in Las Vegas last week. Fresno impressed while winning the Mountain West…but it was a down year for that league. Utah closed the season very well until getting battered by Oregon in the Pac 12 Final. Hard to gauge sentiment for this one overall. I think more sharps are angling to take Fresno State than Utah…and that will become very clear if the public moves the game to nine. If not, a possible tug-of-war between Utah -8 and Fresno State +8.5. The quants have been pretty active with Over/Unders in this evening set…as an opener of 142.5 is down to 138.5.
SETON HALL vs. GONZAGA: 9:55 pm ET on TruTV
This was a tricky one for oddsmakers because Seton Hall looked fantastic last week in winning the Big East. They knocked off both Villanova and Xavier in Madison Square Garden, and both of those are #2 seeds in the Dance. But, that was an exhausting weekend, and now the Hall has to play at altitude against a very fresh Gonzaga team. Oddsmakers figured Gonzaga would get looks from those wanting to bet the Seton Hall letdown at altitude. As a result, a #11 seed (Gonzaga) opened as a 2-point favorite over a #6 seed. That strategy did keep locals and sharps from pounding Gonzaga. We’ve seen a move down to -1.5 from dog bettors who think Seton Hall will have time to recover. This could be a very heavily bet game by tipoff because it’s the latest start…and because we have “local” interest on one side and “New York” money on the other. New York money has a way of finding its way to Nevada. Might be the most heavily bet game of the first two days.
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That’s it for Thursday action. I’ll be back with you late this afternoon to talk about the early Friday games. Among the highlights there are Syracuse/Dayton, Hawaii/California, and South Dakota State/Maryland. Here’s the schedule through the rest of this busy weekend…
Late Thursday: How Sharps are Betting the early Friday session
Early Friday: How Sharps are Betting the late Friday session
Very Early Saturday: How Sharps are Betting Saturday’s eight games (where Thursday’s winners go head-to-head)
Very Early Sunday: How Sharps are Betting Sunday’s eight games (featuring Friday’s survivors)
Then we’ll take a few days off from market analysis until the Sweet 16 arrives next Thursday.
Thanks very much for reading. Can’t wait for the first round to get rolling. I hope you get to experience March Madness out here in Las Vegas at least once in your life. Nothing like it anywhere in the world. See you again next time.
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