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Submitted by Richie B. Oddsmakers Consensus on Friday, April 5, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Back as promised to look at how sharps (professional bettors) have been attacking the Final Four. Before getting into that, a quick review of the tournament so far.

*Sharps have done VERY well this year, building a large profit by riding value bets on underdogs through the event. Even when favorites were winning a lot of games straight up back in the round of 32…enough “sharp” dogs were cashing to keep the Wise Guys afloat. Then, underdogs then went 8-4 against the spread during the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, and it would have been 9-3 if not for Purdue backers getting burned in overtime against Virginia.

Give the sharps credit for recognizing how competitive the field was going to be this season…and for realizing how many “very good” teams had a chance to go deep amidst all the hype about Duke, North Carolina, and Gonzaga.

*Squares have mostly suffered…though those that love putting favorites in “money line parlays” where the superior team only has to win straight up really cashed in big during that round of 32. That’s when favorites went 16-0 straight up! A dream weekend for bettors who like that approach. Didn’t work so great after that (and it won’t over the long haul in any sport). On the whole, the public placed too much faith on the so-called superpowers, not enough on the group of teams just below that.

*It’s been a really good tournament for the “defensive dog” handicapping approach. There were a lot of very good defenses in the Dance. Three of the remaining Final Four rank in the top 10 nationally on that side of the floor (using points allowed per possession). A good year for old-school handicapping principals and guys who trust their Power Ratings.

With that backdrop, it will be helpful to look at sharp strategies from the underdog perspective in Saturday’s big games. What number is generating underdog interest?

 

SATURDAY’S GAMES IN MINNEAPOLIS

6:09 p.m. ET: Auburn vs. Virginia (-5.5)

I think it’s very interesting that sharps haven’t been betting Auburn yet. Some offshore spots opened at Virginia -5, or tested it early. It was favorite money coming in at that price. We’ve been painted at Virginia -5.5 all week. That tells us that sharps will definitely jump on Auburn at +6. Are they waiting for the public to drive the line higher? Or, are the Wise Guys just not interested in this matchup?

Here’s what I think is happening. The consensus analysis is that Auburn will probably have to have a good day on three-pointers to compete (or pull the upset). That’s how they won the SEC tournament, and how they’ve advanced this far. That’s harder to do against a great defense, particularly on a floor inside a massive football stadium. It was much easier to like Auburn in other environments than it is here. (Plus, losing a key scorer to injury is a big deal against a great defense.)

Also, Auburn has the weakest defense left in the tournament. If this becomes a slow, half court battle…which offense is more likely to work for good, makeable shots? Virginia’s. The line has settled at 5.5 because it’s harder to like Auburn here than it was against North Carolina (prone to play out of control under pressure) and Kentucky (lacking a halfcourt offense beyond hoping individual stars can create their own shots).

Given all that, sharps aren’t going to “love” Auburn unless the price moves much higher. That doesn’t seem likely because Virginia isn’t a “public” favorites. I’ll sum it up this way. Sharps (particularly the quants with models) like Virginia at -5. Sharps (particularly old-school types) will like Auburn if +6 comes into play. Some of the old school guys may finally settle for +5.5 before tip off if that’s as high as it’s going to get.

 

8:49 p.m. ET: Texas Tech vs. Michigan State (-2.5)

Sharps have made it very clear that they love Texas Tech whenever +3 hits the board. The public wants Sparty at -2.5. A few sharps do as well because they like edges in coaching experience and team value at lines below a trey. But, most sharps, particularly the “defensive dog” guys want the #1 defense in the nation and points on a neutral court inside a football stadium.

This should be a very heavily bet game because of the late tip-off. Casual bettors are going to love taking the team that just beat Duke at a low price. Dog lovers will jump hard on Tech at +3.

You regulars know that college basketball is my favorite sport to bet and handicap. I’m sad to see the Big Dance coming to an end. Only three games left counting Monday’s finale. I do believe there’s money to be made this weekend. You can purchase my FINAL FOUR 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.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back again Monday around lunchtime to look at how sharps have been betting the championship game matching Saturday’s winners. That will be plenty of time for tendencies to show. Betting markets will have an opener up on the board soon after Michigan State/Texas Tech ends.  By my report, we’ll know what prices sharps want…and what prices they don’t want.

Final Four Weekend is always a blast in Las Vegas. Big crowds rooting for their bets…particularly in-game proposition bets that are bigger than ever. I can tell you from this season’s reaction that “first team to score 15 points” is going to be the next big thing nationally in this sport. The public LOVES the instant thrills and gratification if they hit. I hope you get to enjoy some thrills in Saturday’s big games.

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