Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 7:00 AM
The last two games in the Elite 8 Round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament have some very interesting dynamics for bettors. First of all, all four teams are from the same league! What are the odds of that? The storied Atlantic Coast Conference is guaranteed to have at least two teams in the Final Four, and one team in the championship game because of the way the brackets are clustered.
It obviously follows that “conference” games like this will be rematches from the regular season. These teams have seen each other before. Notre Dame just played North Carolina a couple weeks ago in the ACC Tournament. That will give us a bit more to discuss today as we run through how sharps have been betting these two matchups as of late Saturday evening.
I’ll go in tip-off order again today, beginning in the Windy City…a place with a storied gambling history all its own…
VIRGINIA vs. SYRACUSE: 6:05 pm ET on TBS
Virginia has really impressed through the tournament. Their bigs can get things done…which is relatively rare in the modern game. Opponents have their hands full with the Cavs! The opener went up at Virginia -8.5 even though close followers of the sport know that this is going to be a very slow game. That’s a HUGE number in a low tempo game. Let’s compare it to the first meeting.
January 24: Virginia (-10) at home vs. Syracuse
If Virginia was -10 at home, that would equate to -7 at a neutral site. So, oddsmakers made an adjustment of a-point-and-a-half from that game because Virginia appears to have lifted its form. Well, BOTH teams are playing great now. Maybe they lifted Virginia 2.5 points and Syracuse one.
Sharps bet the dog at that opening price of +8.5. This isn’t as surprise because the quants in particular will get a grading to a dog in a low scoring projection. I’m now seeing Virginia -8 as I write this. So, a half-point move against the normal flow of favorite betting in high profile TV games. The public really isn’t ready to lay this kind of number with an “ugly” team like Virginia. Plus, Syracuse has such a great recent Dance history that squares just might line up on them.
Worth remembering here…Syracuse often has a big advantage in the tournament because opponents haven’t seen their tricky zone defense before. Virginia HAS seen it (and defeated it at home by eight points in a non-cover). That “second look” might be a difference-maker, particularly if the Virginia bigs stay out of foul trouble.
The low opening total of 122 has actually been bet up to 124. That’s still a low total in the big picture and means points will likely be at a premium. But, quants know the regular season meeting did reach the 130’s. And, Virginia’s familiarity with the zone may allow the Cavs to drive the game Over in the latter stages.
Probably best to sum it up this way…sharps who think Virginia can thrive vs. the zone are betting the OVER rather than laying that tall number. Sharps expecting a wrestling match see more value with the dog than the Under with a total that low. It’s always about finding the best value with sharps.
NORTH CAROLINA vs. NOTRE DAME: 8:45 pm ET on TBS
This one went up on the board at -10! That’s almost unbelievable given what we’ve seen elsewhere this week in the Elite 8 and Sweet 16. But, North Carolina is playing great…and they just crushed Notre Dame 78-47 in the ACC Tournament. Though, let’s not forget that Notre Dame actually won an earlier meeting in South Bend 80-76 in a Saturday evening game on ESPN. Do you remember the pointspreads in those games?
March 11: North Carolina (-7) vs. Notre Dame on a neutral court
February 6: North Carolina (-2.5) at Notre Dame
So, we have a BIG adjustment from the game in Washington DC earlier this month. And, that -2.5 in South Bend would equate to about -5.5 at a neutral site. So, oddsmakers are much higher on North Carolina than they were back then…and/or much more skeptical about the quality of Notre Dame. Sure, the Irish are still playing in the Elite 8! But, they won pretty ugly over Michigan (borderline bubble team), Stephen F. Austin (#14 seed) and Wisconsin (#6 seed). Oddsmakers basically opened “playing great” at -10 over “lucky to be here thanks to a soft schedule.”
Sharps bet the big dog for value. Once again we saw a slight drop “against the grain” down to North Carolina -9.5. The public may be betting this favorite through the day, setting up a potential tug-of-war between Carolina -9.5 and Notre Dame +10. That’ probably the most likely scenario unless a major syndicate tips its hand on a really big investment.
The very high opening total of 156 is down to 155 off some relatively minor quant betting.
My selections for Sunday will be available Easter morning. 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 Sunday morning.
I’ve scheduled a special report for Tuesday to talk about the NIT Final Four. I’ll cover sharp betting in the semifinals set for that night at Madison Square Garden…and I’ll outline likely betting for Thursday’s final as well in that Tuesday report. Then, more coverage next week for the Final Four…where we already know Villanova will face Oklahoma…and where today’s winners will square off in Houston.
Thanks for reading. Happy Easter! Best of luck to you today…