Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Only two games to talk about today…but two HUGE games because we have #1 seeds matched up against #2 seeds for the right to go to the Final Four. The schedule is a bit weird because the first game in the Nevada Rotation is actually the later start. I’m going to go in tipoff order to keep it simple. So, we head out West for the early evening (East Coast time, late afternoon on site and here in Las Vegas) matchup between the Oregon Ducks and Oklahoma Sooners.
OREGON vs. OKLAHOMA: 6:09 pm ET on CBS
This one has hovered near pick-em since the outset. Each team has had some time temporarily as a 1-point favorite. Looks like both sides have constituencies that will bet them at +1. It remains to be seen how the public will bet on game day. Oregon has more “local” interest in Nevada because we get so much Pac 12 coverage during the regular season…followed by the postseason tournament being played at the MGM. But, Oklahoma and the Southwest in general have some “gamblin’” histories here in Las Vegas that will bring money out in spots like this. I think the best guess is that Oregon will get most of the money at pick-em…but OU money would come in fairly strong at +1. Bottom line…there are sharp syndicates that like either team at +1. Some Wise Guy Oregon money hangs around at pick-em. (A lot of poker players with roots in the Southwest will be on Oklahoma!)
The Over/Under opened at 150…and sat there or at 150.5 most of the day. Quants have been active fairly early in the betting window in this tournament. So, the fact that there wasn’t an immediate move suggests that quants had their number in the same place oddsmakers did. If you’ve only been casually following college hoops this year, be aware that Oregon doesn’t run as much as they used to. The Ducks were close to national average in pace this year, much slower than their recent racehorse past.
KANSAS vs. VILLANOVA: 8:49 pm ET on CBS
Kansas has been a tricky team for the markets for several weeks now. Neither oddsmakers nor sharps thought they’d be this good…and both groups have largely remained skeptical during a 14-3 pointspread run! Kansas opened at -3 despite playing great vs. Maryland Thursday night. The line went DOWN to -2.5 from early sharp action. We’re painted at Kansas -2.5 as I write this late Friday night Las Vegas time. Is this the game Kansas finally stubs its toe? Many sharps seem to think so. I think it’s likely that the square public will bet “red hot” Kansas at what looks like a cheap price during the day. That could set up a tug-of-war between Kansas -2.5 and Villanova +3. The sharps who already hit Villanova at the opener of +3 would surely come in for more if that number becomes available once more.
Not much interest yet in the total. An opener of 145 is either still there, or up a half point to 145.5 depending on the store. Again, quants haven’t been waiting this long to make their biggest totals bets. So, we can assume oddsmakers and quants are in agreement here.
This is such a great matchup. Villanova has mostly played like a #1 seed all season, until getting upset by Seton Hall in the Big East tournament. Nobody’s been playing better than Kansas over the past month. It’s like having a National Championship caliber game the week before the Final Four! Even though both games Saturday are #1 vs. #2…most Power Ratings I’ve seen would have Villanova as a slight favorite over either OU or Oregon if they had paired up in this round. Kansas and Villanova are the two best teams playing Saturday, and will be two of the best five teams playing in the Elite 8.
Who will Richie B. be betting on? My selections for Saturday will be available long before that first tip in Anaheim. You can always purchase my selections in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 on weekends before the first games start, or on weekdays during normal business hours.
I’ll be back early Sunday to talk about the Regional Finals being played in Philadelphia and Chicago. Will the #1 seeds finally have some drama to deal with? We’ll see what sharps are thinking about that. Remember that I’m also planning a Tuesday report to cover the full Final Four outlook for the NIT. Those games will be played Tuesday and Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Best of luck to you Saturday. See you Sunday morning.