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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 11:00 AM

I normally don’t talk seriously about betting National Championship futures prices in this sport until closer to the Big Dance. But, this season is unique in the fact that the championship race truly seems wide open. It wouldn’t be a shock if none of the future #1 (or #2) seeds went the distance. All the powers have weaknesses, or the ability to look mortal when their treys aren’t falling. Several teams in the top 40 of most Power Ratings could have deep runs if they get hot or catch a few scheduling breaks.

With that in mind, let’s stalk about how sharps have been betting futures prices in recent days…

*First, many DON’T bet them. You need to be aware that futures prices generally offer far less than “true odds.” If you believe a team is going to string together wins in the postseason, it’s much better to put them in rolling parlays one game after another rather than bet a future price. The payoff is higher.

*Second, many DON’T bet them in VEGAS but do offshore. Las Vegas, unfortunately, is notorious for posting relatively poor payoffs on odds to win championships compared to what you see offshore and around the world. A team might be 20/1 in Vegas, but pay off at 40/1 or 50/1 offshore. Obviously, sharps find the best number for their bets. That’s why they’re sharp. It should go without saying that sharps hunt for the best price. If you’re limited to Las Vegas, at least make a few trips around the city to see what various stores are offering. You’ll be very surprised at some of the differences. You’ll be even more surprised at what’s available elsewhere.

*Thirdly, and I need to emphasize that this is only true for some sharps…they’ll bet longshots with an eye toward “selling stock” by fading those teams through the tournament. Let’s say they can find a team at 200/1 (that’s a common price for Rhode Island offshore this week). That’s a huge payoff if the Rams go the distance. But, how likely is it that the Rams could really do that? Hey, that’s why it’s a longshot! But, if you make that bet…you have plenty of room to hedge against it to lock in a profit. Simply make smaller moneyline bets on URI opponents each round so that the payoff is larger than the initial stake.

Let me be clear that many sharps DON’T subscribe to this theory. They believe that if Rhode Island is a smart bet at 200/1…say, because they’ll win 1 out of 100 times instead of 1 out of 200 times based on a bettor’s personal assessment…you should just keep the 200/1 and let it ride out. Sure, you lose most of the time. But…that payoff is massive when it happens. Many sharps will have several different longshots entering any given Dance, trusting that over the course of several years one of them will ultimately come through and deliver the big payoff.

To each his own. Personally, I think there are a lot of virtual locks for the Dance that are currently returning high enough odds that they can be hedged against to grind out a profit. This could be a great year to tinker with this “selling stock” approach.

*Finally, sharps who bet futures do pay a lot of attention to how a team is playing right now because those teams are likely to close the season in similar form. Somebody who peaked early but has slumped lately has fallen off the radar. Teams who are just now finding their best form are ripe for futures betting because this market can be slow to react. Now, I’m not talking about just one game. Anybody can get hot over 40 minutes. But, if a team is getting results over a couple of weeks based on legitimate improvement (youngsters maturing, injured players getting healthy, etc…), then they will get attention from sharps at straggling stores.

Most of my reporting on sharp betting from this point forward will involve team sides (and possibly Over/Unders). I wanted to make sure I put some tips on the record for you regarding futures prices before the conference tournaments were upon us. The season has been flying by. March will be here before you know it.

College basketball has always been my favorite sport to handicap and bet. You can purchase my nightly BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155. I have very affordable rates for basketball through March Madness or the NBA Championships.

Thanks for reading. I’m very confident of my Power Ratings right now. Typically I don’t tinker with them much this deep into a season. But, there are a few teams who have definitely improved in recent action in a way that should hold up…and several more who have hit rough stretches that don’t show any signs of smoothing out. It’s a season where avid fans are being rewarded in the betting markets. I’m an avid fan! I appreciate that many of you who are also big fans are joining me each week for these reports.

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