Day One Of The Big Dance
DIRECT FROM NEVADA WITH NICK BOGDANOVICH
WHAT SHARPS ARE THINKING ABOUT DAY ONE IN THE BIG DANCE
Just like we did in football, I'll be outlining for you what the "sharps" (professional wagerers in Las Vegas) are thinking about the NCAA Tournament.
I'll cover Thursday's games for you in this report. I'll be back Friday morning to talk about Day Two of the Big Dance. We'll do the same thing next week for the Sweet 16 games. Publication deadlines don't allow for doing the weekends on the fly unfortunately. I would advise you to follow the line moves closely this weekend and next, because it's generally sharp action that's driving the number right now. The public money is in the mix, but not at past volumes. Not yet anyway.
Here's what sharps are thinking about THURSDAY'S matchups. Games are presented in tip-off order by site...starting with the early game in Providence, working our way all the way down to the bottom game in San Jose.
ROBERT MORRIS VS. VILLANOVA: There was early interest on the underdog, as Robert Morris dropped from +19.5 down to +18.5. That's not a team that sharps pay much attention to. I'm hearing that it's mostly skepticism about Villanova that led to the move. The Wildcats weren't playing their best ball at the end of the year.
ST. MARY'S VS. RICHMOND: A lot of respect for Richmond. It was interesting, offshore opened St. Mary's as 1-point favorite even though they were a 10th seed facing a seventh seed. I'm now seeing Richmond -2 as I write this. Richmond impressed sharps with their run through the Atlantic 10 tournament, and their tight game with Temple.
OHIO VS. GEORGETOWN: Not much interest in this one, with the line basically sitting at Georgetown -13 since it went up.
SAN DIEGO STATE VS. TENNESSEE: Underdog San Diego State got the early money as an 11th seed. They're +3 now after opening +4 against sixth seeded Tennessee. Sharps have been talking about the Mountain West all season. They put their money where there mouths were here, more than happy to take a spread that might seem short for a 6-11 matchup.
OLD DOMINION VS. NOTRE DAME: Old Dominion has been a team respected by sharps all season. They were looking to get value right out of the gate with the Monarchs, and pounded an opening offshore line of +4 immediately. I'm now seeing +1.5. Most Wise Guys I talk to expect ODU to win this game outright. Notre Dame used up its energy last week in New York. Old Dominion has been resting for several days.
SAM HOUSTON STATE VS. BAYLOR: Some interest on the dog here, as Sam Houston +12.5 has dropped down to +11. I do know some sharps who have Baylor going deep in their brackets. They're seen more as a dangerous dog though than a blowout favorite. Look for sharp action on Baylor in the coming rounds if they dodge this bullet. Sharps are disappointed ODU and Baylor are slated to meet Saturday if they both win Thursday.
EAST TENNESSEE STATE VS. KENTUCKY: This line is hanging around -20 or so for Kentucky. Favorite players are laying 19, dog players are taking +20 or +20.5. Doesn't take much money to scare a sportsbook when the line is this high and a non-board team is involved.
WAKE FOREST VS. TEXAS: Sharps tend to avoid inconsistent teams they don't trust. The limited action I am seeing has been on favored Texas at -4, and underdog Wake Forest at +4.5. Might hop back and forth between those numbers between now and tip off.
FLORIDA VS. BYU: Here's another Mountain West team getting respect. BYU opened at -4, but is now up to -5. That's kind of a high line for a 7-10 game these days. Offshore oddsmakers anticipated some respect for BYU with the opener, and still didn't get it high enough.
NORTH TEXAS VS. KANSAS STATE: Slight interest in Kansas State, as the opener of -15.5 moved up to -16. Tough matchup physically for North Texas.
NORTHERN IOWA VS. UNLV: We've been seeing the number hang around UNLV -1 all week, in what's considered a virtual toss-up in an 8-9 game in the seedings. I can tell you the home folks are hoping UNLV wins here so they can get a shot at Kansas.
LEHIGH VS. KANSAS: Not much interest in a game with a very high line. You should expect to see it close around -25 or -26 barring injury news. Sharps normally only step in on the 1-16 games if they know something nobody else knows, or if the public is driving the lines up by pounding the high profile teams. The public doesn't pound the way it used to in the current economy.
MURRAY STATE VS. VANDERBILT: Strong interest on a very good Murray State squad. They opened at +4.5, which is low already for a 4-13 game. Sharp money has driven the line down to just +3. You'd have to consider this a rebuke of the seeding committee! Murray State is seen right now as better than your normal 13th seed, and Vandy is seen as much softer than a normal 4th seed. Everyone talked about how Purdue would be a go-against as a #14 seed because of an injury. Vanderbilt's laying a lower price and isn't missing their star!
UTEP VS. BUTLER: Sharps were very disappointed these two teams drew each other. They really wanted to bet both at value prices in the first round. The spread I'm seeing right now is Butler -2.5...with the favorite getting betting interest at -2, and the dog getting interest at +3. This is a 5-12 game in the seedings...which tells you the sharps think UTEP was much better than a 12th seed. I would expect this winner to be the sharp choice Saturday in the second round...and they probably would be again in the Sweet 16 round getting points from top seed Syracuse of the Orange are still in the brackets.
WASHINGTON VS. MARQUETTE: Marquette got early support at pick-em, which you'd expect in a 6-11 game. You wouldn't expect the six to be in a pick-em though! This San Jose regional could really have some great games Thursday given the parity in the group. I'm currently seeing Marquette -1.5. Should the public get involved on game day, you'd expect that to be on the Big East team against the Pac 10 team given all the bad press for the Pac 10 this season.
MONTANA VS. NEW MEXICO: Rare steam against a Mountain West team. New Mexico opened at -10, but is now down to -8.5 Montana impressed sharps with their big comeback at Weber State. New Mexico didn't look very good at all last week in the Mountain West tournament. Remember, a lot of sharps got a first hand look at that event because it was played in Vegas. And, the guys watching those games bet Montana rather than New Mexico.
That wraps up this look at Day One. I'll be back Friday morning to look at Day Two. Remember that I don't always agree with the sharps in terms of my own personal selections. I handicap games my own way. And, my clients are dealing with game day lines rather than early week openers. Sometimes a game moves to far, and creates new value for us.
Call 1-877-822-2276 for my top side and total plays throughout the NCAA Tournament. I'll also include my BEST BETS from the other college hoop events going on right now. Game day releases and packages can also be purchased here at the website with your credit card.
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