How Sharps are Betting the NCAA Championship Game
This is going to be one of the easiest reports I've ever written. Sharp sentiment is very clear on both the side and the total in Monday Night's NCAA Championship game featuring the favored Villanova Wildcats and the underdog Michigan Wolverines. The public still has time to make its presence felt between now and kickoff. That could be trickier to anticipate in advance because the dog is a "public" team and the price on the favorite is one of the highest we've seen since the Sweet 16 began.
First, the team side. The game opened at either Villanova -6.5 of -7 depending on the store. And, the game continues to swing back and forth between those two numbers. Sharps, as a composite, definitely like Michigan at +7. This team closed the season very well, and is facing an offense that's long overdue to cool off.
Now, there are some quant groups who get a grading to Villanova at -6.5. The math guys have been ahead of the curve on the three-point revolution in basketball, which helped them make a killing with Golden State a few years ago when that story started developing. I don't want to suggest that 100% of sharps are on Michigan. It is true that more sharps are on Michigan at +7 than are on Villanova at -6.5. That's part of the tug-of-war we're seeing between the two numbers.
How are squares (the public) betting this one? It's more split than usual because there's a lot of square Big 10 money in Las Vegas, and because Villanova -6.5 or -7 is steeper than what the team has been laying recently. The Wildcats were just -5.5 vs. West Virginia, and -6 vs. Texas Tech, and -5 vs. Kansas. The only spread higher than this in the tournament since the Sweet 16 began was Duke -11 over Syracuse. The guys who HAVE to bet the favorite in TV games are trying to find ways to use Villanova in moneyline parlays with the Over/Under or with other games on the board. Though, many who have been cashing with Villanova the whole way (5-0 ATS in this event so far) are staying on the bandwagon and laying the points.
I've talked about countless games over the years where there was a tug-of-war between sharps on the dog and the public on the favorite. Here, there's still a tug-of-war but its split between different factions of those groups.
On the total...not really much interest yet. The opener was either 144.5 or 145 depending on the store. It's hopped between those numbers ever since. If quants had a big opinion, we would have seen a lot more movement. The public prefers betting Overs...but that can seem like a high number to casual bettors. Plus, there have been a lot of slow games recently that needed late free throws just to get close.
Michigan fans aren't betting the Over because its last two games landed on 126 and 112. Villanova fans aren't betting the Over because it would take a hot shooting game to get there...and "hot shooting" is already tied up in the Villanova bet. You don't need to "double up" on Villanova by also betting the Over.
Can you bet the Under? Villanova making almost every trey it tossed in the air Saturday has scared people off that!
We'll see much more total action later in the day. People watching live at sportsbooks WANT to have something to root for on the total. Historically that's meant Over bets. Not clear that the same will be true here because Michigan has such a strong local following and its fans know the team must play great defense to win.
I hope all of you get a chance to spend March Madness out here in Las Vegas at least once in your life. Whether it's opening week (like having a Super Bowl four days in a row, but even more fun!), Sweet 16 and Elite 8 weekend, or Final Four weekend, it should be on your bucket list as sports fans. I've been living this life for many years now, and it never gets old.
Thanks for reading. I'll be back with you at the end of the week. We'll be turning our focus to reviewing how sharps bet in the NBA Playoffs and early season Major League Baseball. My goal with these articles is to make sure you learn how to think like a sharp and bet like a sharp. I appreciate that so many of you keep coming back to visit.