What Sharps Are Thinking About The Sweet-16



We have eight games scheduled for Thursday and Friday. I'll discuss all of them for you on this report. I'll be back Saturday for a discussion of the first day of the Elite Eight. Deadline publications won't allow me to go over Sunday's games because the matchups won't be determined until late Friday Night...and the full magnitude of sharp play won't be known by early Saturday morning.

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I'll take the games site by site, going in tipoff order at each site. Here's what sharps (professional wagerers in Las Vegas) are thinking about the Sweet 16 games set for Thursday and Friday in the NCAA Tournament.

CORNELL VS. KENTUCKY: Sharps liked the combination of Cornell and Over, a combination they've been having great success with so far. Cornell has been so efficient on offense with their treys and their ability to work for layups, that they've been scoring a lot more than the market expected. Sharps didn't want to get off the horse here. Cornell opened at +10, but is down to +8.5 as I write this. The total opened 144.5 and shot up to 147. Though the public likes to root for upsets late in a close game, they tend to bet favorites...particularly when it's a big name program facing an upstart. Should square money drive the line back to Kentucky by 9, I'd expect sharps to take Cornell again. They stopped betting the dog at +8.5.

WASHINGTON VS. WEST VIRGINIA: West Virginia opened at -4, and went up to -5.5 on sharp action. But, when news broke about the injury to their starting point guard, sharp money bought the dog back quickly. The line is back to West Virginia -4 as I write this. Sportsbooks will be in some trouble if West Virginia wins exactly by 5 points! The total hasn't moved off the 142, even with news of the injury. Sharps have had success with Washington the past couple of weeks. I was a bit surprised for all the West Virginia support at first. We may see sharps take more of the dog before tipoff. There is a fear that this coach and these players will start to struggle once the pressure gets to them. Sharps are trying to time when that's going to happen.

BUTLER VS. SYRACUSE: Butler got early support at +7, as the line has come down to +6. This is a team that gets a lot of sharp respect as a dog. They play smart, and their ability to hit three's always gives them a chance to come back if they fall behind. Syracuse finally showed signs of life last week after a mini-slump though. The line hasn't come down any further than six out of respect for what Syracuse can do at it's best. The total dropped a bit from an opener of 138.5 down to 138.

XAVIER VS. KANSAS STATE: Very little interest in this game from sharps. As I've explained in the past, that can mean they're going to pass...or it can mean they like the underdog but they're waiting to see if they can get a better line after public action. We saw sharps jump on Cornell and Butler...which means they were afraid other sharps were going to jump in and take their value away. I'd take this to mean less affection for Xavier at the opener...but probably support before it's all said and done. Should the line go up to Kansas State -5 on public action, I think a lot of sharps would jump in at that price. And, we may see many take the +4.5 if that's the best they're going to see right before tipoff. Remember that Xavier is a team the market respects. They were a slight favorite for awhile last week over #3 seed Pittsburgh.

TENNESSEE VS. OHIO STATE: Not too much activity in this one. An opener of Ohio State -5 and 134 is now 4.5 and 133.5. From the sharps I've talked to, they're having trouble trusting either side. Ohio State isn't a blowout team as a favorite vs. decent opposition. Tennessee has a poor tournament history vs. good teams, and has been lucky so far to face only San Diego State and Ohio. I'm hearing more talk about the dog than the favorite. Should the public drive the line to five, I think we'd see the sharps commit to the underdog. We're at a point in the tournament where sharps REALLY have to love a favorite to lay points. No many qualifiers this week for that much passion at prices in these ranges.

ST. MARY'S VS. BAYLOR: Slight support early for Baylor, as an opener of -3.5 went up to -4. I'm now seeing -4.5 in places as I write this. Why this favorite? Everyone saw St. Mary's control the inside game vs. Villanova last week. Remember, that was the only game on at the time early Saturday. EVERYONE saw that! Baylor has a great inside defense, which takes away St. Mary's strength. If there's a favorite to like for pure matchup reasons, Baylor might qualify. Note there wasn't a big drive to a much higher number though. Baylor is untested as a favorite under the spotlight. I know of some old school guys who will take St. Mary's at the apex for that reason. They're waiting to commit until they see if the number is going to go any higher. Not much interest in the total, which sits at 145 as I write this.

PURDUE VS. DUKE: Tough call here. Sharps have generally been loading up against Purdue because they looked so bad after the Robbie Hummel injury. Some were very public about their affection for Siena and Texas A&M. Will they go to that well one more time? They have to lay -8 with a very public team in Duke...and that goes against sharp sensibilities. Plus, Purdue is playing so well now that you have to assume they've figured out what to do without Hummel. The early line of Duke -8.5 has dropped to -8 in some places (in others it's bouncing between 8 and 8.5). Frankly, sharps wish Purdue was long gone so they could be taking physical Texas A&M in this spot. The total has come down from 129.5 to 128...one of the few totals moves we've seen so far. The numbers guys like the Under.

NORTHERN IOWA VS. MICHIGAN STATE: The opener was delayed here because of the Michigan State injury situation. We've seen it settle at MSU -1.5 with a total of 120.5. Sharps prefer getting more points when they're taking a mid major underdog...particularly one that's in a letdown spot off the biggest win in school history. They may have trouble pulling the trigger on Michigan State because of the injuries, and how poorly MSU played the last four minutes vs. Maryland (before salvaging the game at the buzzer). I'm not getting a read on this one from sharps yet...and it may just end up being a game they leave alone.

That wraps up my look at what sharps are thinking about the Sweet 16. Back Saturday to talk more college basketball. Don't forget that you can sign up for my personal service by calling 1-877-822-2276. My BEST BETS are also available here at the website with your credit card. I've been on a great run once again through the college postseason. That should come as no surprise. The best information always comes to you DIRECT FROM NEVADA!



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