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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM

We’ve been monitoring the markets every day so we can find you edges that you yourself can exploit as you try to make yourself a better handicapper and Las Vegas bettor. Over the past several days, these things are becoming clear:

*Trying to get a read on what sharps think about NBA teams down the stretch is very difficult because so many key players are skipping games because of injuries or fatigue. Combine that with some bizarre schedule sequences that still have teams playing three games in three days this late in the season, or playing four games in five nights…and the sharps are much more focused on last second “information.” We’ve told you often to try and “bet the news” before the market can react. There’s nothing new to say on that front.

We can promise you we’ll be much more active with the NBA once the playoffs begin. The lineups will have settled, and there are no back-to-backs to worry about. Then sharp sentiments about teams and playoff series will be very clear in a way that you can take advantage of as things progress. It will be like March Madness, but with better teams playing more games against each other!

*Trying to get a read on what sharps think about MLB teams has been a bit easier. But, we’re seeing more of a general “dog” tendency across the sport right now. Most of you know that sharps tend to focus on underdogs in all sports because the lines against favorites are historically too high. There have been enough good and bad surprises in these early days of 2012 that betting the right dogs or fading the right favorites has offered value.

Here are some examples of falling favorite prices from Saturday’s slate:

WASHINGTON opened at -135, but was bet down to -115 or -120 in their home game against Cincinnati. Sharps respect how much Washington has improved since their darkest days. But, they’re not ready to accept the team being priced like a Wildcard contender every time out.

SAN FRANCISCO opened at -158 vs. Pittsburgh, but was bet down to the -145 to -150 range. Oddsmakers were giving Barry Zito respect off his recent gem. Sharps aren’t buying that he should open near -160 vs. anybody given what we know of his early season form in recent years.

LOS ANGELES opened at -145 vs. San Diego, but was bet down to -135 vs. San Diego.

TEXAS opened at -185, but was bet down to as low as -155 or -160 in their road game at Minnesota. Yu Darvish was being priced like a Cy Young winner in just his second US start. Sharps aren’t ready to give him the benefit of the doubt just yet.

KANSAS CITY opened at -155 vs. Cleveland, but was bet down to -135 or -140 in their home game against Cleveland. Given recent seasons, it’s hard to imagine Kansas City laying that big a price to anybody. Sharps  saw value with the Indians…and they believe that, in general, they’re going to get the best of it with these dogs over the full sampling. We’ll see how that plays out.

*We mentioned last time that sharps have been very strongly endorsing the Miami Marlins out of the gate. That hasn’t changed even though the team started poorly. Miami was one of the few favorites to see a big jump in Saturday action. They opened at -155 vs. Houston, and were bet up to -170 at press time, with some indicators that there will be more air pumped into that balloon through the course of the day. Clearly, and unmistakably, there are elements in the Wise Guy world that believe very strongly in Miami’s chances to be a top notch team this year. They’re betting that opinion aggressively on a daily basis.

*The other sharp tendency we want to note is that the Wise Guys are looking for reasons to bet Unders whenever it makes sense. We’re hearing that they believe the market hasn’t fully reacted yet to the “cleaning” of the game regarding steroids. So, certain situations still favor Unders a few years later.

Those are:

Expected pitcher’s duels

Games in pitchers’ parks

Games in cool temperatures

Day games after night games

Get-away games

Sharps aren’t afraid to go Under 7 in the right conditions, even if that strikes many of you as a low total. They’re going to be more Unders than Overs at a rate of roughly 3-1 or 4-1 in these early days. It takes a unique set of circumstances to lead to an Over bet. It’s either pass or Under as a general rule.

At this point, we’re letting the schedule and betting developments determine the schedule for these articles. The lack of meaningful or helpful news in the NBA has led us to cut back at the moment, with plans to full court press during the playoffs. In the bases, we’re interested to see if another team catches the sharps’ imagination the way Miami has in the coming days. There are a few teams close to joining that club based on what we’re hearing.

Don’t forget that the best minds in handicapping post their best plays right here at the showcase website in the sports wagering industry. Saturday’s selections are up now. Please check the ads on the home page to see what your favorite legend has on tap for today!

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