Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 1:00 PM
Two games left in the Elite 8. We know for sure that the SEC will send at least one team to the Final Four since Florida and South Carolina are playing each other. Might it be two? Let’s see who the sharps are betting on to reach the final weekend of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. We’ll take the games in tipoff order.
IN NEW YORK
(4) FLORIDA vs. (7) SOUTH CAROLINA: 2:20 pm ET on CBS
Big move here right off the bat, as an opener of Florida -4.5 was bet all the way down to South Carolina +3. Sharps have really been impressed with this South Carolina team so far in the tournament. Those who won with the Gamecocks over both Duke and Baylor couldn’t believe the opener was so high. It’s not just that Carolina is playing great. But, Florida was going to have the larger challenge being physically and emotionally ready for a Sunday afternoon encounter after that late night overtime thriller vs. Wisconsin.
Will the public come in on Florida on game day because the Gators are the favorite? That’s a much tougher call here than it would normally be. To the degree Florida was getting publicity in the recent past, it was become they kept losing to Vanderbilt! Everyone saw Vandy look pretty weak vs. Northwestern. Then, Florida’s big win over Virginia didn’t get big TV ratings because it was a blowout. Anyone who stayed up late Friday saw Florida blow a late lead, then get lucky to win straight up at the overtime buzzer.
That’s not a square favorite!
This could be a spot where both sharps and squares are rooting for the underdog. Sportsbooks may have to accept a position on Florida and hope the Gators play to their normal power rating. It might take Gators -2.5 or -2 to bring in any Wise Guy money on the favorite. (Very important side note…sharps have been impressed that South Carolina knows how to protect a lead when they get it!)
There hasn’t been much time yet for people to bet the total. The opener of 135 has stood pat. The quants didn’t jump on that, possibly because they’re hoping to get a better number for planned Under bets. Squares may not want the Over here because South Carolina’s defending so well. Plus, they may expect the Gators to be tired. That’s not run-and-gun basketball. We’ll have to see how this plays out between now and tip-off. My take is that smart money is waiting for an Under to open up.
(1) NORTH CAROLINA vs. (2) KENTUCKY: 5:05 p.m. ET on CBS
Very interesting game here…as both national powers impressed in the prior round. North Carolina opened at -2.5. We haven’t seen any moves yet. That’s a low number for Carolina fans to see in a big game. But, they had to be impressed watching Kentucky pull away from UCLA. Maybe Tar Heels money is going to focus more on the moneyline to win straight up. It’s clear that we didn’t see any “position-takers” on the favorite right off the bat. That suggests the Wise Guys would come in on Kentucky +3 pretty aggressively if it popped up. That’s a pretty important half point in any game that’s expected to be close. You’ve seen that already in this tournament. Gonzaga and West Virginia pushed on the three back on Thursday.
This is likely to be a very heavily bet game because of the teams involved and its spot on the schedule. Maybe the money will be split right down the middle because both programs have such strong betting support. If we move off the 2.5, a tug-of-war would likely start that would bring it back into play. North Carolina -2 would become popular with some sharps. Kentucky +3 is going to seem like gold to dog lovers (particularly “defensive dog” lovers).
An opener of 158.5 has crept up to 159. That’s not much of a move because it doesn’t take a lot of money to move an opening total a half a point. Both teams like to push pace. But, Kentucky/UCLA stayed way Under in what was supposed to be a track meet. It took a bunch of late points just to get to 161 against a market price of 168. This lower total is more vulnerable to that kind of late surge.
I won Friday night with both North Carolina and Kentucky on my service board sweep. I’ll have to go against one of them here! You can always 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. Just a little over a week left in the college season. That still gives us the NCAA and NIT Final Four, plus some of the lesser tournament championships. Still some bullets left to fire in my favorite sport to handicap and bet.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back at the end of the week to outline how sharps attacked the Final Four matchups. Best of luck to you until we talk again.