Thursday March Madness Sharp Report

March 16, 2023 01:20 AM

Wake up with VSiN Daily Morning Bets, a quick 15-minute podcast posted at 7 a.m. ET highlighting the top games and biggest line moves of the day. For a full breakdown of Thursday's betting action be sure to catch the VSiN Market Insights Podcast at 3 p,m. ET. 

You can also track the VSiN Betting Splits for every game. 

In the meantime, let's examine where smart money is leaning for today's March Madness opening round ...

Title bets | Betting Guide | Bracket Guide | Round 1 previews 

12:15 p.m. ET: West Virginia (-2.5, 137.5) vs Maryland

This South Region matchup features 9-seed West Virginia (19-14) against 8-seed Maryland (21-12). This line opened with West Virginia listed as a 2-point neutral site favorite. Right off the bat, this opening line speaks volumes. Why is the 9-seed favored over the 8-seed? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Pros have embraced the fishy side, as we've seen West Virginia move from -2 to -2.5. Ken Pom has West Virginia winning by one point (72-71). He has West Virginia ranked 17th and Maryland 20th. West Virginia is -140 on the moneyline. West Virginia holds the edge offensively (76 PPG vs 70 PPG). West Virginia also holds a superior strength of schedule, coming from the ultra-competitive Big 12. Pros have also leaned under, dropping the total from 140 to 137.5. The under is receiving 48% of bets but 68% of money, a sharp contrarian discrepancy. Maryland plays at a very slow tempo (64.6 possessions per game). 

4:30 p.m. ET: Illinois vs Arkansas (-2, 144)

This West Region matchup features 9-seed Illinois (20-12) against 8-seed Arkansas (20-13). This line opened with Arkansas listed as a 3-point neutral site favorite. The public is rushing to the window to lay the points with the Razorbacks. However, despite receiving 69% of bets we've seen Arkansas fall from -3 to -2. This signals sharp reverse line movement on Illinois, with pros grabbing the points with the dog. Ken Pom has Arkansas winning by one point (73-72), which provides actionable value on Illinois plus the points. Illinois is one of the top contrarian plays of the day, receiving only 31% of bets. We've also seen the total dip from 144.5 to 144, signaling some under smart money. 

9:55 p.m. ET: Penn State vs Texas A&M (-2.5, 134.5)

This Midwest Region matchup features 10-seed Penn State (22-13) against 7-seed Texas A&M (25-9). This line opened with Texas A&M listed as a 3-point neutral site favorite. The public is split down the middle and doesn't know which side to take. However, despite this even betting we've seen Texas A&M fall from -3 to -2.5. In a vacuum, a line shouldn't move at all if the tickets are even. So we know this line move was caused by wiseguys taking the points with Penn State. It's also notable that the sharp move is toward the team with the worse seeding, evidence of "fishy" smart money. Ken Pom has Texas A&M winning by two points (71-69), which provides actionable value to Penn State plus the hook. Pros have also leaned over here, raising the total from 134 to 135. Penn State is 20-15 to the over this season. 

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The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.