Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 12:00 PM
Before gearing up for the NCAA Final Four that’s being held this weekend in Houston, college basketball fans and bettors will be watching the historic NIT Final Four from Madison Square Garden in New York. The semifinals will be played tonight, with the championship game set for Thursday.
I’m sure most of you have been so focused on the Big Dance that you haven’t been paying much attention to the NIT. Studying sharp betting will help give you a quick sense of team quality and form for these last four survivors.
Let’s take them in tip-off order.
IN NEW YORK
VALPARAISO vs. BYU: 7 pm ET on ESPN
Valpo is one of many mid-majors who could make very good cases for an at-large in the NCAA’s. They were given a #1 seed in this event because of that strong resume…and have played to their seed so far. BYU really wasn’t on the bubble radar at selection time. But, they’re from the same conference as postseason workhorse Gonzaga…and took advantage of a home-friendly schedule to survive through the brackets.
The opener of pick-em was bet up quickly to Valpo -2. Sharps were surprised the line was pick-em given the seedings and relative computer ratings of the two teams. We did start to see some buy-back on the dog at two. That may set up a tug-of-war between Valpo -1.5 and BYU +2. Depends on whether or not the public gets involved here. This is a TV game on a light schedule night…but these aren’t teams that squares typically bet much during the regular season. We can say that sharps LOVED Valpo at pick-em and -1, and some would still bet them at -1.5. Dog lovers come in at +2, and would come in harder were +2.5 to come into play.
Not much happening on the opening total of 147. Quants didn’t make any moves. Some stores are testing 146.5 just to see if that generates any interest. I don’t expect this to be a heavily bet Over/Under.
SAN DIEGO STATE vs. GEORGE WASHINGTON: 9:30 pm ET on ESPN
San Diego State is the strongest Power Rated team left in the tournament by many accounts (though the most respected computers have SDSU and Valpo in a dead heat). If sharps had been in charge of the NCAA’s, SDSU would have been safely in (along with Valpo, St. Mary’s, and a few other NIT teams). The opening line here of -3 was bet up to -3.5. That’s only a half-point move, suggesting George Washington interest would come in strong at +4, and is probably already showing a bit at +3.5. Remember that GW knocked off #1 seed Monmouth earlier in a game that much of the East Coast was paying attention to. Then, they got to host Florida (who didn’t have access to its home court) in the quarterfinals to advance. To the degree there’s a team that would interest East Coast money left, it’s George Washington.
I think the best guess for betting through the day is a tug-of-war between San Diego State -3 and George Washington at +3.5 (or +4 if the line does go up further). I think it’s safe to say that West Coast sharps love -3, and like SDSU generally to win the tournament. That tug-of-war depends on the influence of East Coast money.
The Over/Under of 132 was bet hard down to 129. The biggest move of the NIT Final Four was on the Under in this game…as quants stepped in aggressively because of expectations for a slow pace and tough defense.
Won’t have a chance to come back to cover just one game on Thursday. I can tell you generally that San Diego State would likely be a small favorite over Valpo in the finals (with sharps trying to find a way to bet them), while Valpo would be a small favorite over GW. If BYU makes the finals…they’ll be a small dog to SDSU and probably near pick-em with GW. Monitor the quickest moves off the Championship openers for a read on the sharps (and the quants on the total).
My next report will be early Saturday to cover sharp betting for the NCAA Final Four in Houston. Between now and then, you can purchase my daily 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 regular business hours.
Thanks for reading today and all through March Madness. Enjoy the NIT as you get ready for the conclusion to the greatest sports betting show on earth this weekend. See you again soon.