Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, March 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM
By the time you get to the late Friday session in the “Round of 64” of the NCAA Tournament, some betting fatigue does begin to set in for the general public here in Las Vegas. They were rarin’ to go for the early games Thursday. As long as they didn’t bust out, they kept that momentum going through the evening session. But, tourists tend to have bleary eyes in the morning after a night in Vegas. And, by the end of Friday’s first session, many are ready to crash!
Sharps don’t crash! They know that pointspread opportunities that exist in the late Friday session are just as good as those at any other time. It’s a matter of getting the right team at the right price. If you do this for a living (as a pro bettor or oddsmaker), you learn how to pace yourself for grueling challenges like this.
Let’s see how the Wise Guys have been betting the late Friday session so far this week. Be sure you keep an eye on the market during the day for more developments. Once again, we go in Nevada rotation order for the sites, but in tipoff order at each site so it’s easier for you to keep track and make your decisions.
GAMES IN BROOKLYN
WEST VIRGINIA vs. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN: 7:10 pm ET on CBS
An opener of West Virginia -8 has held pretty solid. Stores were starting to test SFA +7.5 as I was writing this. First, we obviously didn’t see a rise in the number that’s common with seeds of this caliber. That tells us right there that meaningful interest is on the dog. Second, that spread is already pretty low for a 3-14 game! Miami and Texas A&M were up around two touchdowns. So Stephen F. Austin has been mis-seeded according to the market. And, there’s still interest in them at the “seemingly” low line of +8. Wouldn’t be surprised if a tug-of-war develops between SFA +8 and West Virginia -7.5. Depends on how common upsets are leading into the session. Squares who already lost with Baylor and Purdue early Thursday won’t touch the Mountaineers if those kind of results continued. The Over/Under was pushed up by quants from 144 to 145.5.
NOTRE DAME vs. MICHIGAN: 9:40 pm ET on CBS
This was the last game up on the board because Michigan won the final play-in game. An opener of Notre Dame -3 has held fairly strong. As we saw just above, some stores are testing a half point lower. Not much difference between these two in the big picture. And, Dance followers know that a play-in win can launch a #11 seed to another victory or two. Possibly another tug-of-war (Michigan +3 and ND -2.5) in a game that will get a lot of TV attention because of the name programs involved. Nothing happening yet on the opening total of 143. Looks like sportsbooks are only moving early when quants attack, but aren’t adjusting much on Over/Unders if it’s just the public betting. Quants weren’t very active on the full Friday card, at least in early betting.
GAMES IN OKLAHOMA CITY
TEXAS A&M vs. WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY: 7:20 pm ET on TBS
Texas A&M opened at -13. There are some 13.5’s out there. This probably won’t be a heavily bet game because squares see A&M as a football school, and Green Bay as an NFL team! Sharps who prefer dogs are biding their time to see if they can time the apex. No activity yet on the total at the opener of 155. Definitely a game that burnt out squares would ignore.
TEXAS vs. NORTHERN IOWA: 9:50 pm ET on TBS
Imagine if you’re a fan of these teams…and you have to wait all the way to the last game of the last session of the first round! Hard to love Texas since they were squashed twice lately by Baylor, and Baylor just lost to Yale. Plus, Texas Tech from the same conference looked awful down the stretch vs. Butler. Northern Iowa is from Wichita State’s conference. The opener of Texas -5 is down to 4.5 in most spots. I’ve seen a four out there. So…nobody wanted Texas -5…and it might take a solid four to bring in Longhorn money. Quants didn’t touch the opening total of 124.5.
GAMES IN ST. LOUIS
WISCONSIN vs. PITTSBURGH: 6:50 pm ET on TNT
Wisconsin opened at -2. The line stood pat for awhile before dog money helped push the game down to 1.5 in spots. The public knows Pittsburgh was borderline to get in, while Wisconsin had a down season compared to recent campaigns (coaching change). Hard to know in advance how excited they’ll get here. It is a battle of big name programs…but not necessarily one that will electrify a viewing audience. So much in this late session handle will depend on how successful squares were in the prior two sessions. Nothing happening yet on the opening total of 131.
XAVIER vs. WEBER STATE: 9:20 pm ET on TNT
A more typical scenario here, as Xavier opened at -12.5 and was bet up to -13. Note that Villanova and Michigan State were up around -17 in their 2-15 matchups…so the market didn’t see Xavier as a legitimate #2 seed. Old school dog lovers will wait and see what they can get with Weber State. I can tell you there’s been more “local sharp” interest in other Western “small conference” dogs than this particular team. The Over/Under is still at 147.5
GAMES IN SPOKANE
OREGON vs. HOLY CROSS: 7:25 pm ET on TruTV
Oregon opened at -22 against what should be a tired and jet-lagged underdog. Brutal for Holy Cross to have to fly from Boston to Dayton for a Wednesday night game…and then the Pacific Northwest for a Friday night game. The line is up to -23 in most spots now. The success of other big favorites may decide whether or not the public pushes this one even higher. The total is down from 135 to 133.5. I hear that’s because quants are aware that Oregon has slowed down its pace this season compared to the recent past.
CINCINNATI vs. ST. JOSEPH’S: 9:55 pm ET on TruTV
Awkward spot in terms of crowd support, since these teams had to travel so far. Oregon fans will stay to politely watch and see who they have to play Sunday. An opener of Cincinnati -2 is up to -2.5 or -3 depending on the store. Looks like a tug-of-war developing for value at Cincy -2.5 and St. Joe’s +3. Quants hit the Under pretty hard (by Friday standards), so the opener of 138 is down to 136.
This isn’t my first rodeo, so I still have plenty of gas in the tank as I handicap the full Friday card for my clients. You can purchase my NCAA tournament selections 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. There are packages that take you through all the tournaments, including the NIT.
I’ll be monitoring the lines for Saturday’s games through the day Friday. If I’m confident I have a feel for sharp betting, then I’ll post a “late Friday” report to discuss those eight matchups. If nothing’s happened because the sharps are biding their time, I might wait until Saturday morning. For now…assume a late Friday look at Saturday’s showdowns.
Thanks for reading. Go drink some coffee! Another day of Big Dance thrills is about to begin!