Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, March 18, 2016 at 11:00 PM
A lot of surprises so far in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Exciting first round upsets can create some very strange second round matchups for casual fans, and even for handicappers who know these teams well. How do you handicap a game like Iowa State/Arkansas-Little Rock?!
Well, sharps know how to think through these games. They trust their Power Ratings numbers. And, they study the first round boxscores closely to see if they can find any meaningful edges. You should do that too. And, of course, you can learn how to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp by reading my market reports throughout the Big Dance.
Let’s get to Saturday’s games. The tournament, in recent years, has switched to a schedule that pushes most of the tip-offs back later in the day. That’s better for TV ratings. Smart bettors like it too because there’s more time to study…and a greater opportunity to pyramid your bankrolls by re-investing your winnings if the early games go your way. Games are listed in Nevada Rotation order for the sites. At each site, I go in order of tip-off.
GAMES IN PROVIDENCE
MIAMI vs. WICHITA STATE: 12:10 pm ET on CBS
To give you a sense of how badly the Selection Committee missed the mark on Wichita State, the #11 seed opened as a favorite of -2.5 points over #3 seeded Miami! And, that’s after being around pick-em with #6 seed Arizona. The Shockers have been very impressive so far. But, this is now their third game since late Tuesday evening. Horrible luck to have to play the earliest game today! Sharps who are betting the game are taking Miami for value at +2.5 because of that Wichita State fatigue. Though, Shocker money does come in at the two. That may set up a tug-of-war between Wichita State -2 and Miami +2.5. This game tips off at 9:10 a.m. Las Vegas time, which won’t give squares much time to act. The total is up from 130 to 131.5 after quant betting. Some stores were testing 132 late Friday.
DUKE vs. YALE: 2:40 pm ET on CBS
An opener of Duke -5.5 was bet up to -6. That’s from a mix of sharp and square action. Wise Guys who wanted Duke knew they’d have to jump in early in advance of the general public. Sharps preferring Yale will wait to see of +6.5 or +7 will come into play before tipoff. I do know some Wise Guys who won with Yale (+) over Baylor are looking to take another shot on the Bulldogs. Nothing happening on the opening total yet of 146.
GAMES IN RALEIGH
VIRGINIA vs. BUTLER: 7:10 pm ET on TBS
These two games in Raleigh are both in the evening, even though this is just the second regional we’re visiting. Be sure you pay attention to the Saturday schedule! An opener of Virginia -7 has been bet up to -7.5. Given the early form of both Virginia and North Carolina after last week’s ACC Final, there’s nothing yet to discourage the public from laying points with either. Sharps who like Butler’s intelligence (particularly in what should be a low-tempo game) will gladly take +8 if it appears. Plus 7.5 may be the best they’ll get. The low opening total of 132 was bet even lower by quants. I’m now seeing 130.5 as I write this.
NORTH CAROLINA vs. PROVIDENCE: 9:40 pm ET on TBS
Same story here as North Carolina is up a half-a-point. The opener of -9.5 was bet up to -10. Dog money does come in at the double digit threshold, as that triggers may of the old-school guys to jump in. We may see a tug-of-war all day with squares laying -9.5 while sharps take the ten. Nothing happening yet on the opening total of 151. Don’t forget that both Virginia and North Carolina will have “ACC crowd” edges in Raleigh.
GAMES IN DES MOINES
KENTUCKY vs. INDIANA: 5:15 pm ET on CBS
The game of the day for TV networks. Both teams closed the season well…and both have a right to be furious about how they were bracketed. Note that it’s a late afternoon starting time out East, mid-afternoon here in Las Vegas. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a prime time TV game and not getting down before tipoff! The opening line of Kentucky -3 has been holding solid. Both sides have their supporters. Personally, I’d expect the public to bet Kentucky more heavily because a price this low seems “cheap” to the most casual followers. This is one of those spots though where sportsbooks will accept their position on Indiana rather than move the number much. You saw that in Yale/Baylor in the first session. Sportsbooks don’t mind being one-sided these days if the public is loading up on one team. The opening total of 156 was shaded down a point by the quants. It’s now 155. Both of these teams are better on offense than defense this season. That’s why it’s such a high total.
KANSAS vs. CONNECTICUT: 7:45 pm ET on CBS
Interesting matchup here because the public loves betting on Kansas (no matter how often that costs them in this event), but Connecticut has a great recent Dance history. Bettors who only started paying attention the past couple of weeks might think UCONN is a steal at the opener of +8.5. The Huskies have been on a tear. But, Kansas looked best on TV of all the big name powers over the last month. I think the most likely scenario is a tug-of-war between Kansas -8 and Connecticut +8.5. The total is up a point from 139 to 140.
GAMES IN DENVER
IOWA STATE vs. ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK: 6:10 pm ET on TNT
This is very likely to be the least bet game of the day. Possibly by a mile. Its prime time start will help because some people have to have action in play on a day like this. But…many squares won’t trust Little Rock to play great two games in a row. And, they all remember Iowa State costing them last year with a big upset loss early in the first round. The opener of Iowa State -6.5 is holding. The Over/Under is down a point from 146 to 145.
UTAH vs. GONZAGA: 8:40 pm ET on TNT
This will be a heavily bet game locally because both conferences have constituencies in the Nevada marketplace…and both of these teams recently won tournaments here in Las Vegas. Gonzaga was a popular bet over Seton Hall the other night. That money is likely to re-invest. Utah was also a popular bet…and everyone had a heart attack just before a very late cover. Pick-em has held solid since the opener. I think sharps would fade any move off pick-em in either direction. The fact that the Pac 12 has struggled so badly in the Dance (outside of Oregon) will probably prevent any Utah bandwagons from getting rolling. The opening total is down a point from 140.5 to 139.5.
I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s Round of 32 matchups. I love college basketball! You can purchase my NCAA tournament selections (and possible bonus plays from the other tournaments) right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 Saturday or Sunday before the first games tip-off.
I’ll be back either late Saturday night or very early Sunday morning with a look at sharp betting in the next set of games. Friday’s winners play Sunday obviously. If market moves that matter become apparent during the day Saturday, then we’ll have an evening report. If not, I may have to wait until early Sunday morning.
Thanks for reading. I hope the first two days went your way. Let’s get back to work!