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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, March 30, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The buzz has been building all week as the Final Four of the 2018 NCAA Tournament fast approaches. Both of Saturday’s national semifinals are going to be heavily bet. I’m not sure if we’ll set records because this is always a special attraction here in Las Vegas. But, it’s a good possibility because the number of props continues to rise in this sport, as it does in the Super Bowl. Plus, in-game wagering is bigger than it’s ever been in this sport.

Doesn’t hurt that we have some marquee teams involved.

*Villanova is an Eastern power that’s developed a confident betting constituency. East Coast money often “finds its way” to Las Vegas whenever a big city team is involved.

*Kansas has been a longtime super-power in this sport. This week presents the rare opportunity to bet the Jayhawks as an underdog. Plus, the Villanova/Kansas matchup is a prime-time battle of #1 seeds. Hard to get a more attractive betting situation than that.

*Michigan has a strong following from Big 10 country. You’ll always see strong representation in local sports books whenever any team from the Big 10 is playing in a huge national game. True whether it’s Michigan, or Ohio State, or Wisconsin. 

*Loyola of Chicago is a more attractive betting option than other mid-majors that have gotten this far because Las Vegas is full of people who grew up in Chicago! That city has always had a strong media presence in this city, which has only gotten stronger as national broadcasters become more comfortable covering sports betting. George Mason was only a Cinderella story. Wichita State was a Cinderella story from the middle of nowhere. Loyola is a Cinderella story from CHICAGO, which makes them a team that’s going to generate action.

There’s no West Coast team, which would have driven even more action. If Arizona or Gonzaga had crashed the party from the West brackets (rather than Michigan), a record handle would have been assured. And, if UCLA can ever become a national power again, look out.

Let’s see how sharps (professional wagerers) have been betting Saturday’s semifinals so far.

 

Michigan vs. Loyola-Chicago: 6:05 p.m. on TBS

An opener of Michigan -6 came down very quickly to Michigan -5. Sharps respect the strengths that Loyola brings to the table in terms of defense, a patient offense, and the ability to make three-pointers. Plus, Michigan couldn’t get the money in similar price ranges against Florida State and Houston. The public did hit the Wolverines at -5. We’ve already had a tug-of-war the past couple of days between the public on Michigan and sharps on Loyola +5.5. That could endure all the way to tip-off.

The opening total was 128 or 128.5 in most spots. We’re now seeing 129.5. Quants got a slight grading to the Over at the opener…but it’s been public money pushing things higher since 129 was reached. Squares (the public) prefer rooting for points. And, they like the insurance of knowing there could be a late flurry of free throws that helps push the game over this relatively low number. If a square is going to bet an Over Saturday, it’s more likely to be over 129.5 or 130 here than a number in the mid 150’s in the other game.

 

Villanova vs. Kansas: 8:35 p.m. on TBS

The market has been sitting solidly on Villanova -5 all week. Any time the line moves off that in either direction, it’s immediately brought back. Sharps are very interested in Kansas +5 or better. It’s rare to see a team this good getting so many points. Plus, many sharps won outright with Kansas over Duke last week. But, anyone backing Villanova has noticed that the team keeps winning by double digits. The Wildcats did that vs. Texas Tech despite shooting just 4 of 24 on treys. It’s possible to LOVE either side here depending on which information you’re looking at. I think the line will stick on the five unless the public is less interested in laying chalk here because Kansas is such a big-name underdog. Though, it’s possible quants would be jumping in on Villanova at anything below five because the team is so strong in the “analytics” categories.

The first stores to post a total went up at a high 156. It’s come down to 154.5 since then. Tougher for the public to go Over THIS many points. And, quants did get a slight grading to the Under at 156 and 155. Even the high scoring Kansas/Duke game (166 points) was only at 144 at the end of regulation.

You long time readers know that college basketball is my favorite sport to handicap and bet. I’ve had a nice run through the NCAA Tournament already. I know how I’m going to play this weekend. You can purchase my daily 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. Be sure to ask about long term packages that go through the NBA Playoffs and Major League Baseball when you call.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back Monday around lunch time to report how sharps have been betting the National Championship game matching Saturday’s winners. Then, from that point on, we’ll transition to discussions about sharp betting in the NBA and baseball. Winning is a year-round job for professional wagerers. Teaching you how to win is a year-round job for me.  

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