Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 11:59 AM
Richie Baccellieri: How Sharps Are Betting Saturday's Elite 8
Two games to discuss on Saturday. I'll come back about 24 hours from now to evaluate sharp betting for Sunday's final two games in the Elite 8. Thanks to all of you who have been reading these Wise Guy reports throughout the full NCAA tournament.
We go in tipoff order today. That means starting way out West for the Gonzaga/Xavier showdown in San Jose. The winner of both of these games heads to the Final Four.
IN SAN JOSE
(1) GONZAGA vs. (11) XAVIER: 6:05 pm ET on TBS
Gonzaga was power-rated higher than Arizona entering the weekend. So, the opener here of Gonzaga -8.5 was a point higher than where Arizona/Xavier finished up in the markets. Of course, that's not where it finished up on the scoreboard. Xavier played its third straight great game and ended Arizona's hopes of playing the Final Four in its home state. I'm fairly confident that the sharps are going to like the dog here. Will squares keep backing Gonzaga after this top seed couldn't get the money in any of its first three games (it went loss-loss-push unless you were able to shop around and lay -2.5 against West Virginia)?
For now, I think squares are deciding if they want to lay -8.5 against a red hot underdog. Sharps are waiting to see if +8.5 is the best they're going to get. Maybe it drops a bit and squares (particularly locals in Nevada) find Gonzaga -8 irresistible. Right now, we have a favorite that's tough to love at a high price, which lessens the shot of a tug-of-war around the opening number. Gonzaga had been a public team all year. Not so much at the moment.
We haven't had much time yet for the opening totals to move. The first number up of 145.5 doesn't look like it's going to set off any alarms with quants. Xavier/Arizona played to 144. Gonzaga and West Virginia stayed way under the market price of 150. This opener takes all of that into account.
IN KANSAS CITY
(1) KANSAS vs. (3) OREGON: 8:35 p.m. ET on TBS
You knew Kansas would start getting more respect in the line after obliterating Purdue. That line had opened at -5, and got bet up to as high as -6 at Caesar's Palace and a few other spots. Kansas/Oregon opened at -6 and got bet up to -6.5 by position-takers assuming the public would be jumping in soon. Any sharps who liked Kansas knew they'd better bet quick!
It would have been tough to imagine a line this high a couple of weeks ago. Kansas was known for playing a lot of close games, and they were upset early in the Big 12 tournament. Oregon was jockeying for a potential #1 Dance seed before losing a starter to an injury in the Pac 12 tournament. Since then...Kansas is on fire...Oregon keeps winning while looking shaky...and the "home court" advantage of Kansas playing in Kansas City is taking on mythical proportions.
I expect the public to love Kansas until they find a reason not to. Sharps might come in on Oregon if +7 is breached. Maybe they'll wait to see if the number goes even higher before they jump in. We'll eventually have a sharps/squares tug-of-war. Too early to see where that's going to settle. The public wants to bet Kansas. Sharps will take what the market eventually gives them.
The opening total of 156.5 could create the similar divide. The Kansas offense is on fire, scoring 100, 90, 98 and 98 points so far to drive three Overs. If you like Kansas, you like the Over. Sharps know that Oregon plays deliberately. Wise Guys will likely start looking at the Under after a public move. This could be why the quants didn't jump right in. It's not that the math guys like these totals...it's that they like the Unders and want to wait for better value.
I'll do my best to find value for you in the Elite 8 games all weekend...then through the closing stages of the NIT and other lesser tournaments next week...and of course all through Final Four weekend as March turns to April. You can always purchase my daily selections right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-777-4155. I'm not the kind of handicapper who puts up "Game of the Year" or specially named selections. I always give you my best shot as we try to grind out a profit. You regulars know that college basketball is my favorite sport to handicap and bet.
Thanks for reading. See you again late Saturday to talk about sharp betting in Sunday's last two Elite 8 matchups. Let's go watch some basketball!