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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, March 31, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Only three games left now in the 2017 NCAA College Basketball Tournament. I’ll talk about sharp betting in Saturday’s Final Four with you on this report. Then, I’ll come back early Monday to see how the Wise Guys have been betting the championship.

The lines have been up for Saturday’s semifinals all week. So, we’ve had time to settle into “tug-of-war” positions on both games. Sharps, as always, are getting the best number for their preferred side when it’s available. It is possible that square action from the public will hit the board hard Saturday in a way that moves the bar just a bit. Be sure you monitor line moves through the day Saturday in the hours before tipoff.

Let’s take the games in the order they’ll start in Glendale, AZ at the Arizona Cardinals football dome.

 

GONZAGA vs. SOUTH CAROLINA: 6:05 pm ET on CBS

Gonzaga opened at -7 in anticipation of strong public support on the favorite. Nevada in particular has seen a lot of interest in the Zags all season. And, that square money has been rewarded because Gonzaga keeps covering. Generally speaking, the sharps like South Carolina at the full +7. We’re seeing a tug-of-war right now between SC +7 and Gonzaga -6.5. The public (and some sharps) can’t resist Gonzaga at -6.5 because this is a team that wins big when things are going well. Will the influx of local money Saturday drive the number up to Gonzaga -7.5? That remains to be seen.

Why do most sharps like South Carolina at +7? Sharps respect defense, and SC has played great defense all through the tournament. Also, there’s lingering skepticism that Gonzaga wouldn’t look so good this year if they had to play in a much tougher conference. This mindset is happy to take seven, and will be even more happy if anything higher comes into play before tipoff.

The lesser number of sharps who like Gonzaga at -6.5 are looking at a crowd/proximity advantage, and the fact that Gonzaga’s excellent guard play might be able to counteract South Carolina’s defense.

This Over/Under opened at 138. Different stores are jockeying around with a half point either way depending on what’s happening at their particular locale. Some are responding to money. Some aren’t getting money and are seeing if a half-point move will generate any bites. The quants haven’t acted here even though they’ve had all week to act. So, any move on game day will be from the public. In the old days, that would mean “Over” money coming in. But, the impact of domes on scoring has really taken hold in the public’s mindset. So, we may sit close to 138 all the way.

 

NORTH CAROLINA vs. OREGON: 8:35 p.m. ET on CBS

An early opener of North Carolina was pushed quickly up to -4.5 and -5. That’s where we’re seeing the tug-of-war now. Oregon takes the bulk of action at +5. North Carolina brings in a lot of money at -4.5. Squares love to bet tournament favorites when the line seems cheap. Carolina looked very affordable to the public at -4, and still does at -4.5. They may still look affordable at -5 when tourist money begins to hit the board late Friday and Saturday in Nevada.

Why sharp support for Oregon when they don’t have South Carolina’s defensive reputation? Sharps have seen a lot of this team all season. They were very strong through Pac 12 play. Some had them power-rated as a #1 Dance seed before they lost a starter to injury in the Pac 12 tournament, which was held here in Las Vegas. Sharps know that Oregon does have a solid inside defense, and some very talented scorers. The Wise Guys weren’t shocked all that much when the Ducks knocked off Kansas last week.

There aren’t many sharps who are gung ho on North Carolina right now. It’s very tough to trust a favorite that gets sloppy and inconsistent for long stretches at a time. As great as Carolina is when things are going well, they were still lucky to get past Kentucky last week, not long after really sweating the second half against Arkansas. That said…sharps would be all over Carolina at a lower price. Sharps bet the number. It’s just rare for an affordable number to show up on the team everyone expects to win going in. “Betting for value” typically excludes the tourney favorite.

The Over/Under opened at 148.5 Quants jumped on the Over here very hard. We’re now seeing 152 and even 152.5.You could probably summarize this best by saying that sharp influences who think North Carolina has a chance to play well expressed that by betting the Over rather than the team side. If NC can push tempo and earn some trips to the foul line, then we’d have a replay of the 92-80 win over Butler. If that total keeps rising, some Wise Guy under money will eventually come into play from middle shooters and Oregon supporters. (The Ducks stayed Under by 9 vs. Michigan and by 23 vs. Kansas.)

Who will I be taking? Game day prices will certainly influence my final call. 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. Tournament basketball has been good to us this season. We’re up over 60% since the Dance began…including an undefeated Elite Eight weekend and the NIT Championship blowout on TCU over Georgia Tech. Hoping to finish on a high note.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you again Monday to report on sharp betting for the Championship game. Then, I’ll be back when the NBA Playoffs start to monitor the Wise Guys throughout that event. Good luck this weekend. See you Monday!  

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