Are you a Selection Sunday sharp or square?

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

March 17, 2019 12:18 AM

Are you ready to bet opening lines when all the NCAA Tournament matchups are announced on Selection Sunday (CBS, 6 p.m. ET)? 

Sharps will be. They’ll have their Power Ratings ready, or will be so familiar with all the teams that they can quickly make an accurate line for any conceivable matchup. This allows them to pounce immediately on possible oddsmaker missteps.  

Remember that “sharps” get their nickname by “sharpening” opening numbers with their money. Oddsmakers are good. Sharps are better. 

Squares (market parlance for casual, recreational bettors) usually make the following mistakes…

  • They don’t position themselves to bet the openers, either at a brick-and-mortar sports book or online. 
  • They spend too much time fuming about some bracket injustice even though it has nothing to do with sports betting (pundit favorites usually involve a quality mid-major getting left out, or being seeded much worse than expected).
  • They wait to see the point spread before even thinking about a game.
  • They don’t bet quickly, losing out on potential half-points or points that could prove important later in the week.
  • Once they’ve spent some time looking over the lines, they fall into the trap of loving too many favorites (who suddenly seem very affordable at “manageable” neutral court prices). 
  • Even if they spot a potential first round Cinderella, they chicken out and DON’T bet it because they would prefer to be getting more points. 

Does that sound like YOU in past Dances? You spoke truth to power (alone in your man cave) about Wichita State getting hosed while sharps were exploiting the softest numbers. When you finally got around to making your bets (was that on Wednesday, or Thursday morning?), you took almost all favorites. 

Once results started coming in, many of the underdogs you were thinking about betting scored upsets. You were telling your buddies, “I knew that was going to happen.” But you didn’t “know” with your money, where it matters most. 

Bet smarter this time around by spending Sunday preparing for the late-afternoon selection show. Study market prices from the past few days for all major conference tournaments to see how powers were priced in relation to other teams from their leagues. This will at least give you a sense of the national ledger. 

Position yourself to bet opening lines as they come up. Complain about bracket snubs Monday! Try to find the courage to bet talented underdogs you believe have a real shot to score upsets. Notice if you’re betting too many favorites out of habit. 

If you have time, it wouldn’t hurt to re-familiarize yourself with opening round results from recent Dances. There’s a calendar option on the scoreboard page at that lets you see game day point spreads and final scores from past seasons. If you only care about straight up results, it’s easy to do a web search for Wikipedia pages from every NCAA Tournament. 

Selection Sunday is great for fans. It’s a lot of work for sharps! Which are you going to be? 

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