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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, March 9, 2018 at 11:00 AM

After this past weekend, I talked about how the public was making its presence felt with active betting on high-profile favorites in big TV games. Squares took a hit fading Michigan in the Big 10 tournament, and fading Wichita State at home in its regular season finale Sunday. But, the past few days, favorites have been getting the job done in major events.

*Favorites cashed all four tickets Thursday in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, with Virginia, Clemson, Duke, and North Carolina all winning easily. TV networks were certainly hoping for more drama than they got. At least that set up a great Final Four in Brooklyn!

*Xavier and Villanova, the two teams everyone wanted to bet in the Big East Tournament won by 28 and 24 points respectively against opponents that had to play the night before. No way oddsmakers could get the lines high enough there given those blowout margins.

*Kansas was pounded after a short opening line in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The Jayhawks covered easily in a 14-point win. West Virginia was another high-profile favorite to pull away to an easy cover (though dogs covered the middle two games featuring less “public” favorites).

*Three of four favorites covered in the Pac 12 tournament in Las Vegas. That really hurt sportsbooks in my neck of the woods, with all the Arizona and Los Angeles money coming in on Arizona, UCLA, and USC before Oregon just missed covering the closer at the end of the day. At least Friday’s UCLA/Arizona game has a chance to drive a very high handle for Nevada books.

I don’t mean to imply it was a clean sweep. But, it’s largely true that the favorites “squares wanted to bet” not only cashed their tickets…but also won outright on the moneyline, and also won outright in combination with other favorite in moneyline parlays. Those latter bets are much more popular than they used to be…and much more dangerous to the short term bottom line of sportsbooks when so many favorites are cashing (long term, the house always wins!).

We’ll have to see if that’s the end of chalk in the major tourneys. All the good teams are starting to run into each other given the lack of upsets.

One thing I want to point out to you today is that favorites in the lesser known tournaments can make a lot of sense. I’ve been focusing on those with my personal service. My record is 8-2-1 against the spread from Monday through Thursday with games like…

*South Dakota State (-6) over North Dakota State 78-57 (Monday)  

*Northeastern (-7) over NC Wilmington 79-52 (Monday)

*UMBC (-4) over Hartford 75-60 (Tuesday)

*Saint Louis (-1.5) over George Washington 70-63 (Thursday)

In the lesser tournaments, the superior teams know they still HAVE to win to reach the Big Dance. There’s no margin or error, and there’s no “look ahead” to something more exciting next week. Given that neutral court prices are often manageable in these games (particularly with the insurance of possible free throw parades at the end of the game), this can set up some great opportunities.

Normally, I want you thinking more about underdogs than favorites because lines are typically stacked against chalk. But, the public doesn’t bet the lesser tournaments, so you get cleaner lines. Of course, many favorites covered inflated lines Thursday because they played so well anyway.

Moving forward this weekend:

*Consider favorites in the lesser tournaments if you can tell the lines haven’t been inflated from public betting.

*Consider underdogs in the major conferences unless you’re SURE the favorite is going to bring peak intensity because of intangible factors.

*If you’re looking to bet the favorite, get your money in early. That’s the best way to beat any bandwagon effect through the day from square action.

*If you’re looking to bet the underdog, wait for line moves from public action so you can put an extra half-point or point in your pocket. There have been a few pushes already the past few days, and we’re likely to see a higher percentage of games land close to the number with so many relatively even teams squaring off on neutral courts.

*If you want to bet Over/Unders, remember that sharps are the driving force right now in this area. The public just doesn’t bet many, particularly since scoring is up this year in a way that makes posted Over/Unders seem steep. At the very least, make sure you’re in sync with the quants rather than betting against them. I know some “market players” who simply monitor their computers for the first line moves so they can bet the same totals at slower responding sports books.

You regulars know how much I love handicapping college basketball and tournament week. I hope you’ve been winning with me already. 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 don’t release “locks” or “Games of the Year.” I rate games 1-star, 2-stars, and 3-stars. I pushed my only 3-star this week. My 2-stars are 6-0 from Monday through Thursday. Happy to be on top of my game at the moment.

Thanks for reading. Back with you next week to talk about how sharps are betting the NCAA Tournament. Enjoy this great sports betting weekend!

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