The road to the Final Four has brought us to our final destination, San Antonio, where College Basketball’s biggest night will create the two contenders vying for an NCAA Championship.
As with any massively popular sporting event, we must expect impactful influx of money into the betting market, and with this in mind, we shall find the angles. Sharp bettors have already shown some preference in both games, and as we take a deep dive into the off-shore market, these preferences will be revealed and the trail the professionals have laid will be traced.
Usually, finding the numbers that the professionals have already bet is no easy task, but when an event receives a spotlight as bright as tonight’s has, recreational money can have just as much weight as sharp money. When this is the case, aligning our bets with the professional opinion is much more of a possibility, and in breaking down the betting market, this will be our ultimate task.
11 Loyola Chicago vs. 3 Michigan
Off-shore Open: Michigan – 5.5 -110 Total: 128
Off-shore Consensus: Michigan -5.5 -110 Total: 129.5
Betting Consensus: 57% Michigan Total: 71% Over Money line: Loyola 52%
Despite the fairy tale nature of Loyola’s path to the Final Four, Sister Jean and all, Michigan’s is actually receiving a majority of the spread bets here, and the consensus has steadily climbed throughout the week. While the consensus opener was 5.5, many books opened Michigan a 6-point favorite, and in seeing how quickly these 6’s disappeared, as well as many of the 5.5’s, an early sharp move on Loyola was evident. The market has shown a mixture of 5’s and 5.5’s throughout the week, with more of the higher limit books being those posting the 5’s, but as of this morning, the 5’s are no longer to be found. It would appear as more recreational money is entering the market, the consensus is swaying in favor of the Wolverines, and with Bovada being the only book charging 15% juice on Michigan, this appearance is affirmed. Most of the major off-shores are at a standard -110, while Pinnacle, 5Dimes, and BetOnline are juicing the Loyola side, with Pinnacle charging the highest tax on Loyola relative to the reduced price on Michigan. From all this, we can postulate that Loyola is indeed the sharper of the sides to bet on the spread here, and that any price 5.5 or better is in line with the influential opinion.
The over has been getting hammered at over a 70% rate throughout the week, and a consensus one and a half point up-tick has been the result. I would venture to guess that this isn’t all recreational on the over, for the entire off-shore market to make the move, but at the current number, the market has settled, and a few books, such as Pinnacle, are reducing the juice on both sides at 129.5, laying out the welcome mat for total bettors. A few books have even made the move up to 130, but when I see Pinnacle welcoming action at 129.5, I’m certainly not throwing money on the over at 130. Perhaps, the only way to go at this point is contrarian, looking the play back on the consensus and get a piece of the under, especially if this climbs any higher.
Loyola, as one would expect, is receiving a consensus of the bets on the money line, as the general betting public is prone to want to bet a little to win a lot on Championship caliber games, especially on a team that drawn such public appeal as an underdog on a religious mission. Joe Public, drawn into the whole story, is rooting for Loyola to win the game outright, and is therefore prone to pass on the points. What we have seen, however, is reverse movement on the juice, with the price on laying it with the Wolverines steadily increasing as the week has gone on, even with more people taking Loyola. Therefore, if looking to bet on the Wolverines, the money line may be the way to go as this appears to be the sharp angle the professionals are taking on Michigan. Here you may want to wait closer to tip though, because even though the price has gone up on the Wolverines as the week has progressed, late recreational Sister Jean money may produce a better price.
1 Villanova vs. 1 Kansas
Off-shore Open: Villanova – 5 -110 Total: 154
Off-shore Open: Villanova – 5 -110 Total: 155
Betting Consensus: 56% Kansas Total: 61% Over Money Line: 56% Kansas
What was earlier in the week a consensus heavily in favor of Kansas, at well over 60%, was met with early week move on Nova, driving the market up to a consensus of 5.5 across the board. The 5.5’s didn’t last very long, with 5 being a key number in College Basketball, but this move against consensus was enough to reveal a sharp lean toward Villanova. Now, with the market relatively stable at 5, the juice discrepancy between Pinnacle and Bovada still demonstrative of the sharp opinion on the Wildcats, with Pinnacle juicing the Nova side -110/-102, while Bovada is taxing the Jayhawks at -115. With Kansas being the blue blood household name that it is, combined with the fact that they too are a one-seed, it’s easy to see why the points look enticing with Kansas, but with the even consensus and sharp action on Villanova, the market is revealing just how much respect it has for this Wildcat team. Still, if you are wanting to lay it with Nova, waiting is still probably the best bet, because late recreational money is sure to come in on Kansas, simply because they are Kansas, and a one-seed, as previously mentioned.
The over is once again getting love from the betting market, and with 60% of the action on it, some upward movement has resulted. I would be very hesitant to take the over here, however, because when I see Bovada as a minority at 155, and the higher limit books at 154.5, I’m led to believe this may be purely public movement. And then, when I see Pinnacle opening at 154.5 -118 and going to a reduced -108 on the over and the under, I’m confident they have received little to no professional money on the total and are content taking action either way. Therefore, the total is a layoff for me.
Very similar to the other game, the underdog is showing the majority of money line bets, and yet the price to lay it with Nova hasn’t decreased like you think it would throughout the week. In fact, the price has gone up and down, and until this morning, had remained above the opening price for the most part. Now, the market is showing prices in the -210 to -225 range on the Wildcats, close to where most books opened the number. But with Pinnacle remaining towards the upper limit of that range and Bovada at the low, Nova appears to be the sharper of the sides when it comes to who will win the game outright. And based on the logic that would have Kansas receiving a majority of the action on the spread, this would apply even more so to the money line, and the movement downwards back to the opening price is hardly a surprise. But there was movement against consensus on Nova at different points in time during the week and I’m hard pressed to believe this was recreational money laying over 2-1 on Nova. Therefore, I believe Nova the sharper of sides on the money line and waiting this one out may result in cheap price close to tip, south of 2 to 1 on a five-point favorite.