Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 9, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Back as promised Friday to run through what the sharps were thinking as they hit the opening lines in college basketball conference tournament action. This is the single biggest day of the week in terms of schedule volume, so let’s jump right in.
The biggest move was on Virginia, who opened at -2.5 but jumped up to -3.5 and -4 by the time we went to press. We’re not seeing very many big moves this week because oddsmakers have done a fairly good job of pinning down the right numbers…and because there are few teams that sharps have really targeted for aggressive play. Virginia was targeted, and was hit pretty hard. This is a team that’s stayed off the national radar much of the season, but sharps like their chances to impress here, and might be on them again as value underdogs if the seeds hold and the Cavaliers advance to face North Carolina on Saturday.
Three favorites were all hit on the first day of action at Atlantic City (the opening round was played at campus sites earlier this week). St. Joe’s moved from -1 to -2 against St. Bonaventure (even though they’re the inferior seed). Saint Louis has been bet up from -6 to -6.5 in most places with the occasional -7 out there (possibly hinting at further moves before tonight’s tipoff). Xavier in the night cap against Dayton has moved up from an opener of -2 to -3. You probably know that sharps tend to favor underdogs in most sports because of public sentiment (and because home field/court advantage can be valued too high by oddsmakers). They will hit favorites in neutral site tournaments with low lines though, particularly in events the public isn’t paying much attention to.
Not much interest in Day Two in Indianapolis. Michigan was bumped from -5 to -5.5 in their evening game against Minnesota. It’s worth noting that both the oddsmakers and sharps saw Indiana as a small favorite vs. Wisconsin even though the Badgers had a bye. That’s worth remembering next week when you’re evaluating how the selection committee seeded the Big Ten.
Florida and Tennessee both opened at -3, and both were bet up to -3.5 or -4 in unison in their games with Alabama and Mississippi respectively. We have a dog move in the late game where Georgia +8 vs. Vandy was bet down to +7.5. Should Tennessee and Vandy advance in the bottom of the bracket, we expect the sharp money to continue a pro-Tennessee anti-Vandy trend. Oddsmakers will try to defend against that Saturday.
Not much interest in the team sides, but the opener of Marshall/Southern Miss saw a big total play on the Under. An opener of 137 was bet down to 135, probably on the assumption that both teams will play tired after going overtime in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Another big total move here, as Cincinnati/Syracuse came down from 128.5 to 126.5. It’s been a fairly low scoring week in New York, with a lot of defensive struggles. Sharps seem to expect a replay here. Also, another overtime team in the mix as Cincy went an extra period vs. Georgetown. Louisville was shown clear sharp respect in the nightcap. Even though they were a #7 seed playing a #3 seed, they opened as a 2-point favorite, and were bet up to -3. There’s probably some anti-Notre Dame sentiment in there too. We expect the sharps to be anti-Notre Dame in the Dance next week.
Limited interest here, with Ohio being bet up from -3 to -3.5 over Buffalo. Perhaps some home state sentiment in the mix there since the tourney is in Cleveland. Buffalo is the only non-Ohio team left.
Kansas opened at -5.5 vs. Baylor, but was bet up to -6 or -6.5 playing in friendly territory in Kansas City. There used to be a time where the Jayhawks were an automatic bet in the postseason in that city. Support here against an out-of-region team who hasn’t been able to string together good games in the latter stages of the season.
Not much to note here. Maybe the lack of action is important. Arizona opened -3 vs. Oregon State and didn’t move…even though we’ve seen a lot of other 3-point favorites get hit. You remember from football how often a lack of movement is actually telling you something.
Little interest in these games early. But, they’re late starters so there’s still plenty of time for sharps to act. Be sure you look for line movements during the course of the day. The public just doesn’t bet games like Hawaii-New Mexico State or Louisiana Tech-Nevada…so any moves you see are going to be sharp moves.
Long Beach opened at a pricy -14 against Cal Irvine. That’s come down to -13, suggesting support for the big ugly dog. We haven’t seen much of that today…but there aren’t as many big ugly dogs this year as there have been in the past. The superpowers aren’t as great as they used to be. The mid-level teams have mostly leveled off in a certain range. Here in the Big West, Long Beach has been so dominant this year that they were granted “local Superpower” respect by oddsmakers. Sharps decided there was value knowing Long Beach played yesterday, and will have to play again tomorrow if they plan on winning the tournament.
We told you yesterday that we had saved our market reports for the end of the week so we could get a sense of what sharps were doing when the most important teams took the floor. Our third and final report of the week will go up around lunchtime Saturday to review what we hope will be some very important matchups. If the seeds hold, Saturday’s schedule will be packed with Dance-bound teams. It’s very important to see what sharps are thinking about the conference powers as you prepare for the NCAA’s.
If you’d like some help picking winners the rest of Friday and over the full weekend card, sign up with the sharpest minds in Las Vegas here at the website. You’ve seen in the ads that various VegasSportsMasters are firing on all cylinders right now. Be sure to check out the new videos posted by Kelso Sturgeon and Wayne Root that just went up Friday morning.
See you again Saturday!