Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 11:00 AM
Sweet 16 action Thursday and Friday nights had hearts racing and hearts breaking. Eight survivors will battle for a spot in the Final Four today and Sunday. Let’s see how sharps (professional bettors) have been attacking these marquee matchups that all of you will be watching on TV.
6:09 p.m. ET: Texas Tech vs. Gonzaga (-4.5)
The first number up offshore was Gonzaga -4.5. That was quickly bet down to a solid four. You regulars know that’s a huge half-point because it went AGAINST the #1 seed, and against the public’s tendency to bet great teams at affordable prices. Sharps love Texas Tech’s defense and experience. They see this as a team similar in style to the St. Mary’s group that upset Gonzaga a few weeks ago, but much better top to bottom. Pro bettors didn’t even wait to see if the offshore openers of -4.5 might go up to five. They jumped in with the hook.
That said, public money started coming in on Gonzaga Saturday morning, lifting the line back to -4.5 everywhere as I finalize this report. This likely sets up u tug-of-war between squares on “affordable” Gonzaga and sharps on “defensive dog” Texas Tech. If the public keeps hitting Gonzaga at the 4.5, a full five might come into play. Remember, even though sharps bet bigger than the public, the full volume of public money dwarfs that coming in from the Wise Guys.
8:49 p.m. ET: Purdue vs. Virginia (-4.5)
This one’s been painted Virginia -4.5 since it went up. That at least tells us that sharps DON’T like the Cavaliers at this price. They would have made a move in advance of public preferences if they did. We can assume Purdue would get hit hard by respected money at +5. Time will tell if the public will lay this price with the favorite. Virginia didn’t impress vs. Oregon the other night, barely surviving a #12 seed. And, everyone knows the team has a reputation for flopping in the postseason.
I believe sharps would have hit Purdue at first as hard as they did Texas Tech if the Boilermakers hadn’t gone overtime Thursday. Also, Purdue shot over their heads from long range (15 of 31), which is a hard thing to ask them to repeat. I think we’ll either have a tug-of-war at 4 and 4.5, or 4.5 and 5.
IN KANSAS CITY
2:20 p.m. ET: Auburn vs. Kentucky (-3.5)
The first number up here was Kentucky -4, but that didn’t last long. Other stores opened as low as -3. Kentucky money comes in at that price. So, we may already have the boundaries set between dog-loving sharps and the public wanting another big name favorite at what seems like a cheap price. We probably won’t go higher than four, or lower than three. The tug-of-war will happen in that tight range.
Though Kentucky had to sweat Houston, I think the public will be ready to fade Auburn because of a “they can’t keep shooting like THIS” mentality. Quants that emphasize recent form will get a grading to the Tigers because Auburn stormed through the SEC tournament then kept it going with this long Dance run. If you only look at the past couple of weeks, Auburn would grade out as a slight favorite.
5:05 p.m. ET: Michigan State vs. Duke (-2)
A flurry of activity here overnight and early Saturday morning. Not enough time yet for things to settle. The first number I saw offshore was Duke -3. Sharps jumped on the dog hard at that price, causing other stores to open at just Duke -1.5. Money does come in on Duke at that price, which is why we’re seeing -2 as I publish. It’s possible you’ll be seeing a different number when you read this.
I can tell you this, Michigan State is a lot better than the Central Florida and Virginia Tech teams who just took Duke down to the wire. Sharps who acted quickly to get +3 are happy with their position. They would certainly take +2.5 or better if it became available. It’s possible they’ll have to settle for +2. The public will see Duke -2 as very cheap….but the public just got its butt kicked if it asked Duke to cover vs. UCF or the Hokies.
And, obviously, any news about Cam Reddish will be a factor. If he’s announced as a scratch, we could move toward pick-em.
A great set of games to handicap. You rarely see dogs of this quality lined up like that. You rarely see all the #1 seeds (or Kentucky with an elite reputation) priced right in the square wheelhouse. I think it’s a safe prediction that this will be the most heavily bet Elite 8 in Las Vegas history.
I have some strong ideas about how this weekend is going to go. You can purchase my 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. Though college basketball is winding down, I will have NBA selections through the playoffs.
Thanks for reading. My next sharp report will be Friday, when I look at market dynamics in the Final Four…which is being played in Indianapolis. Also, thanks again to all the old friends who have been contacting me about that recent article in the New York Post. I’m lucky to have met so many great people over the years. Best of luck with your bets. Talk to you again on Friday.