Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 3:55 PM
Professional wagerers hit the openers pretty hard this week, and have made their intentions clear in Thursday and Friday NCAA action. We’re going to run through developments in the Thursday games in this report. Then, we’ll come back Thursday evening to talk about sharp intent in Friday games.
THURSDAY IN PITTSBURGH
The big news here didn’t involve an opener, but the Tuesday suspension of Fab Melo from the Syracuse lineup. A line of Syracuse -17 over NC Asheville dropped to -15 on the news. There was even a -14.5 out there as we went to press. It’s important to remember through the Dance that sharps “bet the news” very quickly, whether it’s regarding suspensions or injuries. Oh, note that the total in this game jumped from 144 to 147 because a key defensive influence won’t be on the floor.
Sharps also have the dog in the other afternoon game. Southern Miss opened at +7 against Kansas State, which is VERY high for an 8-9 game in the brackets. Sharps bet the dog so hard the line has come down to -5. We haven’t seen any buy back yet, so sharps are happy with their positions…but don’t want any more of the dog at this low line.
The big move in evening action was on the total in the Loyola-Ohio State game. An opener of 132 was bet down to 129.5. There was some support for the dog at the opener of +18. Enough to bring the number down to +17.5. Remember that sharps tend to favor dogs as a general rule. We have cases here where they didn’t wait for public money to hit the board on game day. It’s not known yet how much the public will influence lines once they’re at the sportsbooks in party mode. Sharps wanted to take what they considered to be clear and safe value.
Gonzaga has moved from pick-em to -1 against West Virginia in the other game. The total moved two points from 131 to 133. Be sure you pay attention to the totals. Oddsmakers feel most vulnerable on those propositions.
THURSDAY IN LOUISVILLE
One of the biggest team side moves of the week came in the opener. And, that may be because it was the opener! Colorado State is in a bad body early start against Murray State, who isn’t playing very far from home. The opening line of Murray by 1.5 was bet all the way up to -4. We’ve even seen a -4.5 as of press time.
In the other afternoon game, Marquette opened at -5 vs. BYU and was quickly bet up to -6. Keep an eye on that game, because it hasn’t been on the board very long as of press time. BYU is playing on short rest after a wild finish and travel. Marquette may be a favorite the public likes too on game day.
Connecticut has been a favorite of sharps as we move to the night session. The Huskies opened as a 1-point underdog, but are now laying -1.5 or -2 as the favorite. Games can’t end on zero, so that’s not quite as big a move as it might seem. But, pick-em is a betting line, and UCONN got a lot of support at pick-em. Note also that the total was bet up from 134 to 136.
Sharps did hit Kentucky’s opener against Western Kentucky, driving a line of -24 up to -25.
THURSDAY IN ALBUQUERQUE
Sharps liked the dogs in the two early games. Montana was bet from +10 down to +9 against Wisconsin in the tip-off at The Pit. The low total helped make the double digit dog seem pricey. Plus, we know some sharps who don’t trust Wisconsin as a favorite because they can’t always count on hitting treys away from home. Big move on the total…from 115 to 118. A subset of sharps has been VERY successful of late hitting some of the lowest openers for big scores.
In the second afternoon game, Harvard +7 vs. Vandy is down to Harvard +5.5. There are a lot of quality dogs in the first round, and sharps have been fairly aggressive about hitting them early. During football season, they’ll wait and let the public hit the favorites first to create more line value. No such luxury here when the public handle is uncertain.
Moving to the night session, South Dakota State continued the dog trend, but to a lesser degree. They opened +8 vs. Baylor and got bet down to +7.5. We have more Over sentiment too, with an opener of 139 going up to 140.
UNLV ended the dog theme with very strong support at a short opener. The Rebels started at -3.5 vs. Colorado, but are at -5.5 as we go to press. This is very much a pro-Mountain West, anti-Pac 12 scenario in play here. Sharps get to see a lot of those two conferences, and are really down on the Pac 12.
THURSDAY IN PORTLAND
Another big total move starts things off, as an opener of 135 is up to 138 in the opener featuring Louisville and Davidson. Sharps have learned over the years that “fresh legs” can lead to more tempo than expected, and more cheap points on fast breaks in everyone’s first game. We see that theme playing out time and time again on Thursday. No interest from the sharps on either team side yet.
We saw an even bigger total move on the second day game. An opener of 133 is up to 137.5 in Long Beach State-New Mexico. Long Beach likes to push the tempo, as you’ve seen in past dances. There’s been some support on Long Beach (an opener of +4.5 is down to +4). It makes sense that if you like the dog you like the Over here. Clearly a lot more people like the Over all by itself.
Not much interest yet in VCU-Wichita State. Oddsmakers correctly estimated enthusiasm for Wichita with an opener of -6.5. We have more dog and Over money in the last game on the schedule. New Mexico State fell from +6.5 to +6, with the total jumping from 151 to 154.
That wraps up our look at what the sharps are thinking in Thursday action. We’ll be back late Thursday for a look at the Friday games. And, we’ll try to find the sweet spot through the weekend for reading the sharp tea leaves after the lines have gone up for Saturday and Sunday games.
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