The 2016 Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament resumes on Thursday night with four more games from the South and West Regions as the Sweet Sixteen tips off, followed by four more hardwood thrillers on Friday night from the basketball-hungry East and Midwest Regions as we pare down to the Elite Eight by Saturday.
Let’s take a look at the early odds movement this week in both the Sides (Point Spreads) and Totals marketplaces for these eight thrilling games and provide NCAA tournament picks for both a Thursday and a Friday game in this Big Dance.
Early Sweet Sixteen Money on Villanova, Oregon, Texas A&M, Iowa State-Virginia Over
It’s hard to make money betting on sports and these latter stages of the tournament and with the NCAA tournament odds currently being offered it is probably the closest thing to flipping a coin, no matter how much Time, Energy and Knowledge one expends on a given handicap, as those late game spurts by the losing team officiating and simple bad bounces make it seem like every game goes down to the least (meaningless) shot with Defenders often playing no defense or letting the opponent drive to the basket for a layup or swish an open 3.
Seldom in Soccer, (American) Football, Baseball and Hockey do the Defenses just let an opponent score. Sometimes in the NFL there will be a Prevent Defense which allows almost a free TD to either thrill or madden NFL or NCAA Football bettors, but only in Basketball do we have realities where 8-12 points can be given away almost freely when the actual Point Spread is like 9½. So more than 100% of the line in these games could theoreticallly be free points. Shots of Maalox for everyone.
And it’s a little known fact that the first Insane Asylums were built one year to the day after Dr. James Naismith hung up those old Peach Baskets up in a gym in Canada. No coincidence. One year after the first back-door cover, no doubt. Anyway, this assignment’s about where the early (Sunday-Tuesday) money’s gone on these Sweet Sixteen games and not how hard it is to bet Hoops or where the Nurse has gone.
Sweet Sixteen Odds Movement—Thursday, March 24 Regional Semifinal Games
In Thursday’s first game, a South Regional Semifinal meeting between the #2-seeded Villanova Wildcats and the #3-seeded Miami-Florida Hurricanes in Louisville, Kentucky, the early money has been on the favorite Wildcats who opened up at -4 and have been bet up to 4½ in some places but are still at 4 in the majority of Las Vegas and Offshore books.
CG Technologies saw Villanova get juked up to -5 on Tuesday at 12:26 p.m., but that +5 was sopped up like bread in soup and was bet back down to 4½ just 5 minutes later (12:31 p.m.) and some Sharp action on Miami was also mentioned (on the radio, at CGT). So, some good two-way action, maybe a head-fake and this will probably end up closer to 5 with the perceived Square (and late) money likely coming in on Villanova (12/1 to win NCAA Tournament, BetVictor). The Total here opened at 142½ and has been drastically been bet down everywhere due to the likely perceived physical nature of this game and there are 140, 140½ and 141’s in the current marketplace and more Under money may come in but this Total’s about as low as it can be now. Maybe.
In Thursday night’s second tip-off, the money in Las Vegas sportsbooks has slightly been coming in on underdog and #3-seed Texas A&M (20/1 to win NCAA Tournament, Boylesports), which opened as 2½-point underdogs to #2-seed Oklahoma, but the Aggies have been bet down to 2 pretty much everywhere although William Hill, Peppermill and Atlantis Reno are all still hanging 2½’s here in the state of Nevada. Offshore it’s a completely different story with almost all sportsbooks showing 2½’s and Bovada actually having a (Oklahoma minus) 3 out there for this showdown. So at present, you can find 2, 2½ and 3 (Bovada) on this contest which has seen the Total been bet up from its opening 145 with 145½, 146 and 146½ all out there in the market currently. So, some A&M action in Sin City and plenty of Over action everywhere.
The first of the tw late games on Thursday is in Louisville at the KFC YUM Center in Louisville and will see NCAA Tournament and South Region #1-seed Kansas (9/2 to win NCAA Tournament, Ladbrokes) facing #5-seed Maryland (CBS, 9:40 p.m. ET/6:40 p.m. PT) and the Terrapins have gotten some early action with the number moving from its opening 7 to 6½ although Costa Rican operator Sportsbook.ag still has a 7, while Las Vegas casino Treasure island (TI) is posting a 6. The Total here has also been seriously bet down (from 147) with 144½’s and 145’s everywhere although Online operators BetHorizon, BetUS and BetPhoenix -all graded C+ to C- by SportsbookReview- are all showing a 144.
The second West Regional Semifinal between defending National Champions Duke and West #1-seed Oregon opened up with the Pac-12’s Ducks as 2½-point favorites and Oregon is now at -3 absolutely everywhere here in Sin City, Online and Offshore except for two places who have a 2½: The Greek in Jamaica where, no woman, no cry, and Costa Rican sportsbook and BetGrande (B+ rating). The Total has been bet up from 155 to 156, 156½ and Heritage and Bookmaker are even hanging a 157. Perception of scoring in a Duke-Oregon game played in the West seems spot on and the Blue Devils can fill it up from 3-pointville when they’re on with Grayson Allen (88-for-210 on 3’s), Brandon Ingram (78-for-188 on 3’s), Luke Kennard (54-for-167 on 3’s) and Matt Jones (74-for-179 on 3’s) all well-versed in the 3-pointer. It often seems that some players come through at the right moments in sports and Junior Guard Matt Jones (10.7 ppg) of Duke and Oregon’s sensational Freshman Guard Tyler Dorsey (13.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) both fit that clutch bill perfectly. Watch them.
Sweet Sixteen Odds Movement—Friday, March 25 Regional Semifinal Games
Friday’s first game is the Midwest Regional Semifinal from the United Center in Chicago and sees the Region’s top-seed Virginia (6/1 to win NCAA Tournament, Ladbrokes) playing Iowa State. Malcolm Brogdon and ACC’s Cavaliers opened up as 5-point favorites and have been bet up to 5½ in some places -primarily here in windy Las Vegas- with 5’s reigning supreme Offshore. The Total opened at 140½ and is at 141, 141½ and 142, so, definitely Over money here from definite Sharps and probably a fair percentage of the General Public also.
The East Regional Semifinals will be the last to tip with a 7:25 p.m. Eastern Time (4:25 p.m. PT) start on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with Midwestern schools Wisconsin and Notre Dame locking horns in the City of Brotherly Love and Bouncing Basketballs. The Fighting Irish opened up as slight 1½-point chalks and the number is at -1 almost everywhere (Tuesday night) although those pirates over at Treasure Island have the game at a Pick ‘em as does The Greek in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Bettors thought the Total opened way too low (128½) and it’s now at 131, 131½ and 132, so maybe the healthiest move of all moves to date and maybe a mini-Middle shot (129-130-131) for anyone with that 128½ knowing there’s a 132 out there (Station Casinos).
The second Midwest Regional Semifinal from the Windy City on Friday will see Syracuse and legendary Head Coach Jim Boeheim facing upstart Gonzaga in a game which saw the Zags open up as 4½ point favorites, the exact same number as it is now in every single sportsbook from here to Timbuktu. The Total opened at 134½ and the number has ticked up slightly in some places, so either there’s little interest in this game for now, the numbers are spot on, or probably a little of both. It’s still early and the vast majority of money which will be bet on these eight games has yet to really happen, although large, even 1-point (Side) swings would be a surprise. Those suggesting this game’s Point Spread should be closer to Pick ‘em need to remember they know Gonzaga deserves to be in the Big Dance by virtue of winning the WCC Conference Tournament (besides actually being pretty good and easily one of the best 68 teams in the nation) – and that Kyle Wiltjer and the Bulldogs (25/1 to win NCAA Championship, William Hill) can hang with anyone now and can definitely win this thing, despite dwelling west of the Mississippi River – and that they can go to a betting window and take Syracuse (50/1 to win NCAA Tournament, Paddy Power)—a team most thought didn’t deserve to make the Big Dance—plus the 4½ points if they think the number is that far off. That’s what this is all about after all.
The second Eastern Regional Semifinal and last game before the Elite Eight -which starts less than 12 hours later, don’t you love this time of year?- is the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels (4/1 to win NCAA Tournament, William Hill) and Head Coach Roy Williams doing battle with Yogi Ferrell and the Indiana Hoosiers in what could be an instant classic or maybe a Tar Heels blowout, depending probably on the Hoosiers, who have received most of the early money, moving the line from (North Carolina minus) 6 to 5½ where it also sits solidly everywhere both in Sin City and Offshore. So it may take some major North Carolina or Indiana (20/1 odds to win NCAA Tournament, William Hill) money to move the number off the 5½ and more than likely it stays put or trickles up ½ (to 6) on late Tar Heels action. The Total in this one opened at 158½ and with 159½’s and 160’s in the current marketplace, the Over money from Sharps as well as the Public has this one edging up and the mentality would be that it may rise maybe ½ to 1½ more on later action (Wednesday-Friday) with people perceiving a fun Tar Heels-Hoosiers shootout in Philly. And they might be right. When teams are down to those last minutes when their seasons may be coming to an end, it’s try to score quick, take hurried often uncontested 3’s and foul immediately if your team is down enough… all conducive to a bunch of weird points being scored in the last two mad minutes of a 40-minute game.
NCAA Basketball Pick for Thursday: Kansas -6 (Treasure Island)
NCAA Basketball Pick for Friday: North Carolina Moneyline -220 at BetOnline