We have a very manageable college basketball card on Friday night. There are days when there will be 100 + games, but that is not the case tonight. As long as COVID doesn’t get involved, we’re set for 11 games across five conferences – MAC, Big Ten, MAAC, A-10, and Mountain West.
One thing I want to mention briefly is the CBB totals market. We’ve seen a lot of significant totals movement based on the opening lines. There is a lot of over movement in the market tonight, like Buffalo/Ball State, Davidson/Richmond and Fresno State/UNLV. Totals are inherently less efficient than sides and ever since some new money moved into the market as college football wound down, the totals have been hit pretty aggressively.
Early moves on totals are primarily done by modelers or what I call the “quant crowd”. The people that have extensive spreadsheets or run simulations on how the game will play out. Most early line moves come via the quant crowd grabbing numbers that are perceived to have value against their projections in any sport, but you especially see it a lot with college basketball totals.
We’ve seen a few noteworthy spread moves, though not many. I’m a big believer in using line moves to provide context to the expectation of how the game will play out. Let’s highlight a couple:
Siena at Marist (-5, 130) - The Siena/Marist move stands out to me with Siena taking road money to move down from + 6 to + 5. The Saints have an improving trend line with three straight wins and their 3P defense has greatly improved of late, including a 22.5 percent mark against in MAAC play. Marist shoots the highest rate of 3s in the MAAC. This line move suggests to me that early bettors believe Marist will struggle from deep, while Siena, who is shooting 36.1 percent from 3, will do well.
Fresno State (-1.5, 130) at UNLV – Fresno State has been bet into a clear road favorite at Thomas & Mack for this one. UNLV has won five of six and all four of Fresno State’s losses have been on the road, but that isn’t stopping bettors from backing the Bulldogs. UNLV has had some big margins of victory recently, but lost to San Diego State with .803 points per possession on New Year’s Day and has lost all four games against Quadrant II or higher opponents, as defined by Bart Torvik. Fresno falls under that umbrella.
The total has gone up along with a move on Fresno State. UNLV ranks 272nd in Effective Field Goal Percentage on offense. Fresno is only 174th, but 53rd in eFG percentage defense. The correlation between the side and total move with a slow-tempo team like Fresno tells me that bettors believe Fresno has an efficient offensive performance, so you may want to consider a team total as well.
Use the side and total moves to visualize how the game could go and decide if you want to make a bet based on that analysis.