Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 5:12 PM
Back as promised to look at what sharps (professional wagerers) are thinking about Sunday’s action in the NCAA tournament. We haven’t stopped burning up the phone lines in Las Vegas and offshore, and burning up the phones to make sure we could report the latest information as we went to press. We’ll take the schedule site-by-site in rotation order.
SUNDAY’S GAMES IN GREENSBORO
Early support for the dog in Creighton/North Carolina. The Heels opened at -9, but the line is down to -8.5 or -8 as we go to press. This is significant because Carolina is a public team, but sharps DIDN’T wait long for public money to hit this game. They were happy with Creighton +9 and didn’t want to lose out on a sharp feeding frenzy by waiting around for +10. Sharps still hit Creighton at +8.5. We KNOW the public is going to like Carolina here, so this is dog sentiment that should be respected as you make your final choices on the day.
In the other game, Xavier opened at -2.5, and was bet up to -3.5 fairly quickly. Support for the favorite stopped at that spot though, not making it up to a solid four. This is not a game the public is likely to bet. So, we can’t attribute this to “position-taking” on the favorite. Sharps thought the line was too low for a tournament tested program facing an unheralded dog in a letdown spot.
Not much happening early with either Over/Under in Greensboro.
SUNDAY’S GAMES IN COLUMBUS
Rock solid openers in both games here, so sharps haven’t gotten involved yet. Georgetown opened -4 and 132 vs. NC State. Michigan State opened -6 and 123 vs. Saint Louis. Frankly, our conversations with those in the know are telling us that sharps are pretty fond of all four teams right now. They would have invested in any of them vs. other opponents at reasonable prices. But, paired up this way against each other, sharps believe the oddsmakers got it right.
Now, if the public comes in on the favorites, which could happen because the names Georgetown and Michigan State mean something to casual followers of this event, then we would expect to see sharp underdog money buy any line moves back to what you’re seeing now. At least that’s true for the team sides. On totals, a lack of early action can mean that sharps like the Unders, and they’re waiting to see if the public hits the Overs (squares rarely bet Unders). We’ve seen a lot of Over moves this week, but that DIDN’T happen here. A very good sign that sharps are thinking Under or pass…with Under money likely to come in should the public get action-minded and play a lot of totals Sunday.
SUNDAY’S GAMES IN NASHVILLE
Ohio got what some might consider surprising support in the opener against South Florida. The Bobcats opened +4, but were bet down to +2.5 or +3. Sharps didn’t wait to see if the public bet the cheap Big East favorite (probably because they figured squares don’t even know South Florida is in the Big East!). They jumped right in at +4 and +3.5
This is notable because mid major dogs generally don’t get much sharp support at low numbers like this in the round of 32 historically. One of the truisms in this event over the decades is that upsets happen in the first round, but you shouldn’t ask for too many upsets over the weekend. Sharps feel strongly enough about Ohio that they wanted to get involved. Let’s also note that the very low total of 114 means points will be at a premium. Sharps do prefer dogs in defensive struggles.
In the nightcap, Florida State was bet up from an opener of -1.5 to -2 (some -2.5’s out there) against Cincinnati. That’s money going against the Big East in both games at this site. There’s certainly a lot of respect for FSU’s defense amongst the sharps we were talking to. But, keeping it in perspective, it’s not like they drove the line up to -3 or -3.5. Support for FSU, but not passion in terms of the early action.
SUNDAY’S GAMES IN OMAHA
Florida opened at a very steep -15 against Norfolk State. That line is down to -14.5 the last time we checked. There are some old school sharps who will bet every double digit dog they see in the postseason of whatever sport is going on. So…this could be a case of most everyone passing the game, but the money from those old school sharps being enough to make a ripple.
The big move here was on the total, with an opener of 141 being bet up to 143. We couldn’t go a full day without at least one total jumping up by two or more points!
Not much happening yet in the nightcap, with Kansas laying 8 against a total of 141 against Purdue. That’s definitely a game the public could get involved with because it starts so late. If the squares do well much of the weekend, you can expect money to hit a public team like Kansas there. If the squares are tapped out, the line isn’t going to move.
That wraps up this look at sharp tendencies in the Dance. We’ll pick up with our NCAA Tournament reports Thursday in time for the Sweet 16 round. Don’t forget that guidance from the best handicapping minds in Las Vegas is just a few clicks away here at the VegasSportsmasters website. Sunday selections will go up bright and early from our red hot handicappers. Be sure you check the ads to see who has the biggest bombshells scheduled for Sunday action!